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Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant - Volume 2
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2004
Format: Paperback
General Grant wrote this book while dying of throat cancer. He had been swindled by a dishonest Wall Street Broker and his trophies and possessions were stripped from him to satisfy the demands of his debtors. Bankrupt, suffering from a terminal illness and never passing a moment without acute pain, he produced this magnificent monument to his greatness. Those who denigrate Grant as a drunkard, butcher or bumbling President need to read this book in order to correct these errant assumptions. It is impossible to read this book and not realize that Grant was an inordinately intelligent man and one hell of a writer.
Grant's Memoirs are a deserved classic in American literature and considered the greatest military Memoirs ever penned, exceeding Caesar's Commentaries. Grant wrote as he lived: with clear, concise statements, unembellished with trivialities or frivolities. The only "criticism" the reader might have is that Grant bent over backwards not to wound the feelings of people in the book. He takes swipes at Joe Hooker and Jeff Davis, but what he left unsaid would have been far more interesting. A compelling and logical reason why Grant was so spare in his comments was because he was involved in a race with death. He didn't know how long he could live and therefore, "cut to the chase."
Grant's assessments of Lincoln, Sherman, Sheridan and other military leaders are brilliant and engrossing. His style, like the man himself, was inimitable and couldn't be copied. In everyday life, Grant was a very funny man, who liked to listen to jokes and tell them himself. His sense of the absurd was acute. It's no accident that he loved Mark Twain and the two hitched together very well. Twain and Grant shared a similar sense of humor, and Grant's witicisms in the Memoirs are frequent, unexpected and welcome. There are portions where you will literally laugh out loud.
Though Grant's Memoirs were written 119 years ago, they remain fresh, vibrant and an intensely good read. I have read them many times in my life and I never weary of the style and language that Grant employed. He was a military genius to be sure, but he was also a writer of supreme gifts, and these gifts shine through on every page of this testament to his greatness. All Americans should read this book and realize what we owe to Grant: he preserved the union with his decisive brilliance. In his honor, we should be eternally grateful.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
General Grant wrote this book while dying of throat cancer. He had been swindled by a dishonest Wall Street Broker and his trophies and possessions were stripped from him to satisfy the demands of his debtors. Bankrupt, suffering from a terminal illness and never passing a moment without acute pain, he produced this magnificent monument to his greatness. Those who denigrate Grant as a drunkard, butcher, bumbling President need to read this book in order to correct these errant assumptions. It is impossible to read this book and not realize that Grant was an inordinately intelligent man and one hell of a writer.
Grant's Memoirs are a deserved classic in American literature and considered the greatest military Memoirs ever penned, exceeding Caesar's Commentaries. Grant wrote as he lived: with clear, concise statements, unembellished with trivialities or frivolities. The only "criticism" the reader might have is that Grant bent over backwards not to wound the feelings of people in the book. He takes swipes at Joe Hooker and Jeff Davis, but what he left unsaid would have been far more interesting. A compelling and logical reason why Grant was so spare in his comments was because he was involved in a race with death. He didn't know how long he could live and therefore, "cut to the chase."
Grant's assessments of Lincoln, Sherman, Sheridan and other military leaders are brilliant and engrossing. His style, like the man himself, was inimitable and couldn't be copied. In everyday life, Grant was a very funny man, who liked to listen to jokes and tell them himself. His sense of the absurd was acute. It's no accident that he loved Mark Twain and the two hitched together very well. Twain and Grant shared a similar sense of humor, and Grant's witicisms in the Memoirs are frequent, unexpected and welcome. There are portions where you will literally laugh out loud.
Though Grant's Memoirs were written 113 years ago, they remain fresh, vibrant and an intensely good read. I have read them in! their entirity 30 times in my life and I never weary of the style and language that Grant employed. He was a military genius to be sure, but he was also a writer of supreme gifts, and these gifts shine through on every page of this testament to his greatness. All Americans should read this book and realize what we owe to Grant: he preserved the union with his decisive brilliance. In his honor, we should be eternally grateful.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2010
Format: Paperback
This memoir is both enjoyable and informative. If you come to the memoir with an understanding of the period it will be much more meaningful. This memoir works well on several levels -- it was written about 20 years after the Civil War, but the memories are still fresh and provide much incite into the personalities of the players on both sides. Grant again demonstrates his respect for both sides and states more than once that it was Americans on both sides in the war. He shows sensitivity to all involved. His writing is clear and most enjoyable. On a second level, the book reflects the language and culture of the period (in many ways a more civil period). While I own several hard copies of this book, my most recent reading of it was on my iPad and most enjoyable.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Grant's memoirs are well worth the read - however, this edition isn't. The courier print is virtually illegible, it is extremely small and light. Spend the extra ten dollars and buy a readable version that you can savor.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Grant was supposed to have written this very late in life, in fact he was dying. Yet his clarity of recall is amazing. Time, place, unit, officers, fortifications, conditions, orders, and much more. It is all there. Sometimes the specificity is almost clinical and detracts but there is tremendous history to be learned on every page. The language of the times, the mood of the country, the disposition of the combatants. Truly one of the best historical novels ever. He seems completely immune to embellishment for self-promotion. In fact he frequently details the insignificant parts he played in many a battle. As a Texan I found his discussion of Texas just after the defeat of Santa Anna to be the first time I have heard such amazing tales. This was in Vol. 1. But you wouldn't read Vol. 2 without reading Vol. 1 first. He revealed things never taught in my Texas public education. If you enjoy insight into how things really were in a bye gone era of American history this is one of the best books ever written.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
His personal remarks are very interesting, but there is entirely too much and too detailed information about every battle he was ever involved in; obviously much of the material was gathered from others. It was impossible to keep in mind who all of the persons mentioned were and how they were connected; it was difficult to believe some of the numbers of dead from each battle, given for both sides of the conflict. I was hoping for more of the interplay between Grant and Lincoln, but that was downplayed - not at all like has been reported in other sources.

It's worth reading (but I wouldn't try to read it again!)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Both volumes give a good account of Grant's campaigns in the Civil War. These books don't give any account of the great battles in the east that took place before Grant took command of the Army. Disapponted that he gave no account of his life after the Civil War.
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on February 3, 2015
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
It is highly noteworthy that while the first volume of his memoirs covered his family history and early life, the second volume ends at the end of the Civil War. It is hard to know if this was planned, or merely that Grant just ran out of time to write about Reconstruction in more detail than his few comments towards the end of this volume. Compared to the first volume, the second volume is a bit less organized, especially given that there is a somewhat undigested and very large appendix that partially recapitulates the contents of the rest of the volume while containing additional comments about the Trans-Mississippi front that didn’t make it into the main text, as well as a set of very thoughtful endnotes that give due praise and gracious comments to Lew Wallace and George Thomas, two generals widely seen as being shortchanged in Grant’s memoirs (Thomas is unfairly considered as being too slow, for example).

Like the first volume, this particular book is a worthwhile achievement of the highest order when it comes to the writing of memoirs. Grant shows a straightforward and honest view of constitutional law, is gracious towards most of his fellow officers (including those who, like Hunter, Butler, and Burnside, were not particularly qualified for high command but were loyal officers nonetheless), and includes plenty of anecdotes of great historical incident, including the greatest story about Braxton Bragg ever, where he has an episode of multiple personality and denies a personal request from himself in one of his other guises. For the anecdotes alone, including about Alexander Stephens, as well as its usually insightful commentary about other generals, this volume is worth the read.

In terms of its content, this book focuses on the last part of the Civil War, from Chattanooga to the war’s aftermath. It includes commentary on Grant’s overall leadership and desire to coordinate armies, his approval of Lincoln (who in turn greatly trusted him), his ability to trust some subordinates (like Sherman and Sheridan) while he did not trust others as well, and even some comments on geopolitics, such as the nature of European militaries and some harsh comments on Napoleon III. By and large, Grant is modest and gracious, seeks to correct historical wrongs and is happy to give credit to officers, including fairly obscure ones, like General Terry (the conqueror of Fort Fisher) and not take it all for himself. This memoir basically helps show others how to do it, and if I ever write a memoir, or read more of them, this is the standard to judge them by.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book is a good subject for the Civil War buff that delves into the personal accounts of a general from birth to retirement. This a must companion for "Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant, Volume One."
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on May 9, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Civil War at it's best from the best. I was always intending to read this. But, as a Civil War buff, i just found it too daunting and I felt that other, more interesting writers were gleaning Grant's tome for the juicy parts and putting them into the "better books'. i was wrong. Grant is a master with the page and plume. He's not exactly mark twain. But, he is readable! And he is exceptionally human. His personal "largeness" as a man and ex-President comes through. This nation was exceptionally fortunate to have him. History is even more fortunate that he managed to write this exhaustive work before he passed. For most of the writing, he was well on the way to the ever after, dying as he was from throat cancer. His courage is unquestionable. If you are a Civil War nut...read this ...you will not be disappointed.
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