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Grant Hardcover – October 10, 2017
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“This is a good time for Ron Chernow’s fine biography of Ulysses S. Grant to appear… As history, it is remarkable, full of fascinating details sure to make it interesting both to those with the most cursory knowledge of Grant’s life and to those who have read his memoirs or any of several previous biographies… For all its scholarly and literary strengths, this book’s greatest service is to remind us of Grant’s significant achievements at the end of the war and after, which have too long been overlooked and are too important today to be left in the dark… As Americans continue the struggle to defend justice and equality in our tumultuous and divisive era, we need to know what Grant did when our country’s very existence hung in the balance. If we still believe in forming a more perfect union, his steady and courageous example is more valuable than ever.”—Bill Clinton, New York Times Book Review
“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
“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
“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
Ron Chernow is the prizewinning author of six previous books and the recipient of the 2015 National Humanities Medal. His first book, The House of Morgan, won the National Book Award, Washington: A Life won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography, and Alexander Hamilton—the inspiration for the Broadway musical—won the American History Book Prize. A past president of PEN America, Chernow has been the recipient of eight honorary doctorates. He resides in Brooklyn, New York.
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The book is well researched and comprehensive though tainted by a harmful plot. The author presented both sides of the alcohol topic but the subject could have been handled without having it omnipresent. I became weary of his pounding away at this chapter after chapter.
Grant suffered enough of this from rumor mongers and back stabbers in his lifetime in spite of being an extremely moral man and one of the greatest Americans, one to whom we all owe a huge debt. Whatever Grant’s problem with alcohol he fought to control it, including seeking the help of others. And there is no credible evidence that it ever affected his judgment or performance in important situations. He deserves better and the author, of all people, certainly knows this. By comparison Grant's almost naive trust of others was a much bigger problem for him.
Another negative is the author’s overuse of obscure words. He seems to favor showing off over readability.
In spite of this, I would rate the Kindle version of the book as 4.5 stars if that were possible.
Finally, I originally purchased the hardcopy version of this book. Its mass was too cumbersome to read except at a desk or table. I returned it. I rated it one-star at that time. I had to replace that review in order to post this one. That should not be the case. You should be able to rate each separately. You are rating a product, not just its contents.
I subsequently bought the Kindle version. To date I have preferred physical books to ebooks. I may be changing my mind about that. I already have shelves full of books. As things turned out, I read much of this book on my Android tablet in various medical facilities during appointments for my wife. It would have been totally impractical to haul the hardcover book around.
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.