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The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace Audible – Unabridged

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From New York Times best-selling author H. W. Brands, a masterful biography of the Civil War general and two-term president who saved the Union twice, on the battlefield and in the White House, holding the country together at two critical turning points in our history.

Ulysses Grant rose from obscurity to discover he had a genius for battle, and he propelled the Union to victory in the Civil War. After Abraham Lincoln's assassination and the disastrous brief presidency of Andrew Johnson, America turned to Grant again to unite the country, this time as president. In Brands' sweeping, majestic full biography, Grant emerges as a heroic figure who was fearlessly on the side of right. He was a beloved commander in the field but willing to make the troop sacrifices necessary to win the war, even in the face of storms of criticism. He worked valiantly to protect the rights of freedmen in the South; Brands calls him the last presidential defender of black civil rights for nearly a century. He played it straight with the American Indians, allowing them to shape their own fate even as the realities of Manifest Destiny meant the end of their way of life. He was an enormously popular president whose memoirs were a huge best seller; yet within decades of his death his reputation was in tatters, the victim of Southerners who resented his policies on Reconstruction. In this page-turning biography, Brands now reconsiders Grant's legacy and provides a compelling and intimate portrait of a man who saved the Union on the battlefield and consolidated that victory as a resolute and principled political leader.

©2012 H. W. Brands; 2012 Random House Audio

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118 of 123 people found the following review helpful By Tiger CK on October 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Man Who Saved the Union is the latest work from renowned presidential biographer H.W. Brands. It is an intriguing, comprehensive portrait of Ulysses Grant, the general who is credited for leading the North to victory on the battlefield during the Civil War and was eventually elected president.

Despite his achievements as a military commander and--in Brands' view--as a president Grant's reputation has been savaged by other historians. Scholars have claimed that he emerged triumphant in the Civil War only because of the North's superior manpower while emphasizing the scandals that plagued his tenure as president. The Man Who Saved the Union is, to some degree, a corrective to these views. Maintaining a high level of objectivity about its subject, the book praises some of Grants achievements on the battlefield and in the White House. Brands believes that what made grant a successful general was his strong sense of moral conviction and his willingness to take responsibility for his decisions. He describes Grant's rise in rank over the course of the Civil War through victories at Chattanooga, Vicksburg and elsewhere. Roughly the last third of the book is devoted to Grant's political career. In treating Grant the president, Brands mentions some of the scandals that tarnished his image but also emphasizes that Reconstruction did have some lasting achievements such as the fifteenth amendment. Brands does a good job here of crediting Grant for what he accomplished without neglecting the scandals that have tarnished Grant's reputation.

One of the strong points of the work is that in its recounting of Grant's life it not only reintroduces us to the general and president but also to the America that he lived in.
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65 of 70 people found the following review helpful By C. M Mills on October 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"The Man Who Saved the Union" is a new biography by Dr. H.W. Brands. Brands is a professor of history at the University of Texas who is a prolific chronicler of the great men of American history. Among his many bestseller popular biographies are oones on the lives of Benjamin Franklin; Andrew Jackson; Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This new book is a wonderful edition to his oeuvre. Brands writes with clarity, deep understanding of his subject and an encyclopedia mastery of primary sources. This book on Grant is the kind of biography which could spark a young person's love of history and the role of heroic figures in our nation's history.
Grant was born on April 27, 1822 in a small village in southern Ohio. His father Jesse was a tanner. Jesse used his influence to win Grant appointment to West Point as a cadet. The lad graduated in 1843 being known there more for his equestrian skills than academic plaudits in the classroom. Grant served under General Zachary Taylor in the Mexican War. He later served in lonely posts in the West where he had a propensity to face life in an alcoholic haze. Grant wed Julia Dent the daughter of a Missouri slaveholder. The couple had a wonderful marriage and there children did well in life. Son Fred even graduated from West Point. Daughter Nellie married a British aristocrat! When the Civil War began Grant was working in his father's tanning shop in Galena, Illinois. His past attempts as a farmer and real estate agent in St. Louis had not done well.
Grant won fan in the Civil War. His Western victories at Belmont; Forts Henry and Donelson; Shiloh, Vicksburg, Chattanooga won him the attention of President Lincoln who called the little Ohioan east to take on Robert E.
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71 of 80 people found the following review helpful By T. Green on October 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just finished this book, and I agree with other reviewers that there is nothing new here and that there is no insightful analysis of Grant. I have come to appreciate Grant very much, and I am glad for any book that tries to restore his unduly denigrated character, but Brands' book about TR was much better. This book seemed more like a series of vignettes about Grant than it did a cohesive analysis of and story about his life. I never felt pulled into the story of Grant's life like I did in Jean Edward Smith's book about Grant. And I thought it odd that some notable stories about Grant that truly illustrate his unique character were never mentioned, such as his message to President Lincoln that "whatever happens, there will be no turning back," or the excitement of the troops when Grant turned south at the conclusion of the Wilderness battles in May 1864. The best chapters were actually the very few that gave some insight to his family life, although I didn't think Brands gave enough emphasis to Grant's love for his wife throughout his career except to somewhat disparage Julia. And after noting Grant's concern about his daughter's marriage to an Englishman, he never returned to this issue and the subsequent problems with that marriage. In short, I never quite thought that Brands truly figured out Grant; I think Smith did.

Also, one other thing I thought odd about the book: there is a picture said to be Grant on a horse at City Point in the photos in the middle of the book, and the picture also is found on the title page at the front.
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