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“Grant is vast and panoramic in ways that history buffs will love. Books of its caliber by writers of Chernow’s stature are rare, and this one qualifies as a major event…. Chernow is clearly out to find undiscovered nobility in his story, and he succeeds; he also finds uncannily prescient tragedy. There are ways in which Grant’s times eerily resemble our own…Indispensable.”—The New York Times
“Chernow tells all this rapidly and well; his talent is suited to Grant’s story… He is extraordinarily good on what could be called, unpejoratively, the Higher Gossip of History—he can uncannily detect the actual meaning beneath social interactions… Fluent and intelligent.”—Adam Gopnik, New Yorker
“Marvelous…. Chernow’s biography gives us a deep look into this complicated but straightforward man, and into a troubled time in our history that still echoes today.”—Thomas E. Ricks, Foreign Policy
“Chernow rewards the reader with considerable life-and-times background, clear-eyed perspective, sympathy that stops short of sycophancy, and gritty and intimate details.”—The Boston Globe
“A triumph: a sympathetic but clear-eyed biography that will be the starting point for all future studies of this enigmatic man… Chernow [is] one of the finest biographical writers in American history.”—Foreign Affairs
“Ron Chernow's monumental biography of the 18th president is essential to understanding our race-conscious nation today.”—Bloomberg
“Ron Chernow...has written an expansive new life of Grant. It is a work of striking anecdotes, skillful pacing, and poignant judgments.”—David W. Blight, The New York Review of Books
“Arriving at a moment when excitable individuals and hysterical mobs are demonstrating crudeness in assessing historical figures, Chernow’s book is a tutorial on measured, mature judgment…. Chernow’s ‘Grant’ is a gift to a nation much in need of measured judgments about its past.”—George Will, The Washington Post
“Chernow’s Grant is as relevant a modern figure as his Hamilton. His Grant is a reminder that the very best American leaders can be, and should be, self-made, hard-working, modest for themselves and ambitious for their nation, future-looking, tolerant, and with a heart for the poor ....Chernow turns the life of yet another misunderstood figure from U.S. currency into narrative gold.”—Slate
“Eminently readable but thick with import... Grant hits like a Mack truck of knowledge.”—Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic
“Ron Chernow’s biography reminds our 21st-century selves of the distinction between character and personality.”—National Review
“Chernow’s special gift is to present a complete and compelling picture of his subjects. His biographies do not offer up marble deities on a pedestal; he gives us flesh and blood human beings and helps us understand what made them tick. Just as he did with George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, Chernow brings Ulysses S. Grant to life. At the end of the book, the reader feels as if he knows the man…. A magnificent book… ….This is richly rewarding and compelling reading.”—Christian Science Monitor
“In 1948, a survey of historians ranked Ulysses S. Grant as the second-worst American president. Corruption had badly tarred his administration, just as it had that of the man at the bottom, Warren Harding. But recent surveys have been kinder. Grant now lands in the middle, thanks to his extraordinarily progressive work on race relations….Ron Chernow’s 1,100-page biography may crown Grant’s restoration….Mr. Chernow argues persuasively that Grant has been badly misunderstood.”—The Economist
“Chernow writes definitive biography of Ulysses S. Grant… [An] essential read… restores Grant to the pantheon of great Americans.”—Newsday
“A landmark work….Chernow impressively examines Grant’s sensitivities and complexities and helps us to better understand an underappreciated man and underrated president who served his country extraordinarily well…. monumental and gripping...in every respect, which even at nearly 1,000 pages, is not a sentence too long."—American Scholar
“Grant's true story needed desperately to be told. Thanks to a great historian, it has.”—Chris Matthews, Parade Magazine
“Full of personal and professional insights into a president and military leader that readers will find simultaneously flawed, relatable, and inspiring.”—Money Magazine
“Reading Ron Chernow's new biography, a truly mammoth examination of the life of Ulysses S. Grant, one is struck by the humanity - both the pitiful frailty and the incredible strength - of its subject.”—Philadelphia Inquirer
“Masterful and often poignant .… Chernow's gracefully written biography, which promises to be the definitive work on Grant for years to come, is fully equal to the man's remarkable story.”— Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Reading this compelling book, it’s hard to imagine that we’ll continue to define Grant by these scandals rather than all he accomplished in winning the war and doing his best to make peace, on inclusive terms that would be fair to all.”—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“[A] beautifully written portrait….Chernow doesn’t gloss over Grant’s struggle with alcoholism or his tendency to trust shady operators. However, his willingness to protect the gains of freemen and to fight the KKK was an example of the moral courage he consistently displayed. This is a superb tribute to Grant, whose greatness is earning increased appreciation.”—Booklist, Starred Review
“A stupendous new biography...Fascinating and immensely readable…. uncommonly compelling and timely…. Chernow’s biography is replete with fascinating details and insightful political analysis, a combination that brings Grant and his time to life…. put Grant on your must-read list.”—BookPage
“The definitive biography for the foreseeable future.”—Publishers Weekly
About the Author
- File size : 28359 KB
- Publication date : October 10, 2017
- Print length : 1097 pages
- Publisher : Penguin Books; Reprint edition (October 10, 2017)
- Word Wise : Enabled
- ASIN : B06W2J89PV
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Language: : English
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #6,465 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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In Chernow’s highly entertaining, highly readable biography, Grant becomes a flesh and blood, 3-dimensional, complex force of nature. In fact, he presents the whole, colorful mid-19th Century America in vivid hues, especially Grant’s numerous Civil War battles. And the people who were part of Grant’s life, some decent and attractive, some scurrilous and repellant, are sharply drawn. Chernow does away with rumor, gossip, mystery, and myth to give us Grant the boy, the youth, the young lieutenant, the general, the president, the seer, and finally the greatest American memoir writer of the 19th Century. And as for the book’s length, forget about it: those 900+ pages go by too quickly. You’ll close the book with a slight feeling of closing the book on a friend and wishing the experience had lasted longer.
Grant was a complex man: both brilliant and naive; overly trusting in civilian life while able to perfectly predict what others would do on the battlefield; a man who claimed to have no great political ambitions yet was a rare (at the time) two term president. Chernow reminds us of the personal connections of the generals of both the North and South- Grant attended West Point and fought in the Mexican War alongside William T. Sherman, Robert E Lee, and a veritable who's who of later Civil War leaders. The best man at his wedding was James Longstreet, who would go on to be a great Southern general in the war. Chernow also brings front and center Grant's hard work for African Americans, supporting the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, with equality and voting rights among his lifelong crusades. While Lincoln is remembered in American history as the President who ended slavery, readers of Grant will see that President U.S. Grant should be remembered as a tireless proponent of civil rights and militant enemy of the Ku Klux Klan.
Chernow doesn't turn away from Grant's failures in civilian life: his poverty before rejoining the army for the Civil War, his constant struggle with alcoholism, or Grant's repeated mistakes in trusting the wrong people in matters of finance- and occasionally in government. Grant's personal traits: pride, stubbornness, loyalty among others are shown as what made him the greatest general of his time, but also caused a steep learning curve as President.
Readers of Stephen W. Sears' Lincoln's Lieutenants will find this a perfect companion to their understanding of the generals of the Civil War, their successes and failures, radically different personalities, and their relationships with Lincoln. It continues to amaze me how individual personalities and personal ambitions shape the course of military history.
Fans of history, biographies, and military history will rejoice in this new biography of General Grant- which will stand unchallenged as his definitive biography for a long time. An easy, flowing narrative, Ron Chernow's Grant will change the average American's view of Grant forever.
Top reviews from other countries
This covers his entire life and the first half where it explores his childhood and his years as a civil war general were fascinating. You see why he was respected so much and discover the innovative methods he developed to fight and win the war for the north. The part of this book that covers his presidential years was extremely dry and where the author could recount an incident with more brevity, he often didn’t. It became ridiculous to read of events where it became almost like ‘he said this, then he said that, then he said this’, whereas an actual narrative account of the event would suffice and illustrate the point being explored. The last part which covers his life after the presidency was interesting as Grant travelled the world and became the first defacto foreign relations diplomat.
You do get the feeling the author did a lot of research for this book and couldn’t bear to leave any of it out, but I feel it would have benefited from a more strict edit and being half the length. I have no problems with long books, as some of my other reviews show, but only when they genuinely require it and books as dry and unnecessarily long as this leave me a little frustrated as my time (like all of us) is precious. Saying this, I did find it a fascinating life story and parts of this book had me gripped and were written with real verve (mainly the aforementioned Civil war years). It was great to learn more about an American president who often slips through the cracks of historical biographies and if you enjoy reading about American history, politics or the civil war, then give this a go. Just be prepared for a big time commitment and to power through the more dry parts.
With so many pages the author risks getting bogged into detail and losing the bigger oicture throughout. And that is exactly what happens. Chernow dwells on Grant’s alleged problem with alcohol spending page after page on the reliability of witness statements and to the extent where you sit there and say “OK Ron! I get the picture. Conclude and move on”.
The price of all this is that the section on the civil war becomes yet another missed opportunity to write a great story. Although the civil war is central to the book, it becomes almost only a side issue as opposed to focusing on the wider strategic picture. Why were Grant’s battles important? And what degrees of freedom did they give Lincoln and other generals?
As far as alcoholism is concerned, it is an interesting question. Do I believe that Grant could have been a stark raving alcoholic and at the same time commanded very successfully a huge army of 200,000 men? Won major battles, where he commanded and led from the front? Become Lincoln’s most trusted soldier? And sat two terms as President of the United States? Common sense would dictate no.
So, in conclusion: way too long; nowhere near Chernow’s finest book and you are left with the impression that he was paid per page rather than paid for quality.