- Paperback: 456 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace (October 12, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1438297076
- ISBN-13: 978-1438297071
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.2 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 901 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,345 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Complete Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant Paperback – October 12, 2009
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That is an understatement. U.S. Grant has a deceptively simple writing style which paints the world in which he lived in vivid colors. Grant describes his family background, early life, and the Mexican War in very vivid terms. Grant says very little about his presidency except he expresses some disappointment in his Administration's failure to purchase the Dominican Republic. He claims his purchase of that land would have been to remove blacks from the CONUS, but still give them a nice place to live under the protection of the American government. I found that comment extremely interesting. Apparently the goals of the American Colonization Society of the early 1800s were still around in the 1870s.
The best and most interesting part of the book is Grant's recollection of the Civil War. For those military professionals seeking to emulate his deeds, it is interesting to see what he finds concerning.
During the Civil War Grant mostly speaks of two overwhelming things:
1. Logistics: His accounts of his campaigns focus on trains, rations, ammunition, etc. more than any other detail. What is also interesting is that he organized the wagon trains for the Battle of the Wilderness so that the oxen wouldn't need their forage transported to them.
2. Personnel Actions: Grant thinks very hard about his subordinate officers. He calmly lays out his reasons for firing and hiring the various people and has an interesting read on all of them. Grant is also quite fair. Grant didn't like Prentiss, but Grant still commended Prentiss for his excellent defense at Shiloh's Hornet's Nest.
Grant defends his hard treatment of General Thomas during General Hood's attack into Nashville. It is interesting to read Grant's perspective and then go and read Thomas' perspective. One can decide who is right. Regardless, Thomas did win and Grant didn't replace him with John A. Logan. Grant also lays out his reasons for allowing Sheridan to relieve Gouverneur K. Warren.
Grant proved himself in the Civil War to be a master of internal politics & logistics. His men proved to be expert at the fighting and tactics.
Ultimately, this book is really interesting.
Grant has an interesting viewpoint and clearly sets out his life from its beginnings to the end of the Vicksburg campaign in this volume. His exposition of how things went in the Mexican war and his childhood show off Grant's personality well. They are at times a bit self-deprecating, but you always get the sense that Grant is struggling forward.
Grant writes in a clear way, and he has a nice way of using understatement and sly humor to give criticism, and gives credit where credit is due. He is always explaining how Sherman or Porter were of utmost importance in the campaign for Vicksburg, for example. If you have a Civil War interest, I would definitely recommend this book. If you don't, then this is more iffy.
One minor complaint for the edition I read is that it had no maps. It can be difficult to keep battles straight without good maps, and if you can, look at them while Grant is narrating. It really gives you a much clearer understanding.
Grant's memoirs are truly a clear and concise way of learning a great deal about the Civil War. He explains the thought process behind decisions, and gives credit where credit is due. He is a bit hard on George Thomas, but other than that, he is very gracious to all, but will give faint praise to those whom he believes did not perform well. The fact that he did this all while dying of throat cancer make it all the more impressive.
If you want to learn more about how the Civil War was fought by one of the most important generals of the time, then this book is an amazing resource. Grant writes clearly, and in a way that is rather engaging even though there are no writing "flourishes". He writes plainly, clearly, and in such a way that you can picture in your mind what is going on. This is no simple feat.
I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the US's Civil War.
The story of how Grant came to write this biography after being bankrupt and then diagnosed with cancer when he is encouraged by his friend to put down in writing his recollections and thoughts. That friend was Mark Twain