Personal Memoirs: (A Modern Library E-Book)
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Mark Twain had known many of the great men of the Civil War and the Gilded Age, and esteemed none more highly than Ulysses S. Grant, who was modest, sensitive, generous, honest, and superlatively intelligent. Grant's courage, both moral and physical, was a matter of record. His genius as a general assured his immortality. In 1881, Twain urged Grant to write his memoirs.

No one is interested in me, Grant replied. Out of the army, out of office, and out of favor--that was his life now. He reminded Twain that the Military History of Ulysses S. Grant, written by his wartime assistant, Adam Badeau, had sold poorly. And John Russell Young's book, Around the World with General Grant, published in 1879, had been a complete flop.

Broke and sick--he began suffering agonizingly painful throat cancer in 1884-- Grant agreed to write four articles for the Century Magazine on some of his Civil War battles, and Century offered to publish his memoirs if only he'd write them. Twain was on a lecture tour when he heard that Grant might be willing to write a book and hurried back to New York to tell Grant that he could arrange for publication of the book by a small firm that he controlled. Grant accepted his offer because Twain had been the first person to suggest he write his memoirs.??

The inflexible will and powerful mind that helped make Grant a great general were stronger than the torturing pain, the sleepless nights, the terrors of death. Yet there was no sense of this heroic struggle in the narrative he produced with stubby pencils or by dictating to a secretary. The book was like the man himself--often humorous, frequently charming, always lucid, sometimes poignant, generous to his enemies, loyal to his friends. Twain was astonished when he discovered that Grant had produced a considerably longer book than he had contracted to write, but Grant had always tried to give more than was expected of him. He did so even now.

Grant finished his book in July 1885. The Memoirs were a triumph. The narrative has the directness and limpidity of the purest English prose as it was first crafted by William Tyndell and then spread throughout the English-speaking world in the King James version of the Bible.

Grant had reached deep into himself and into the world history of the Anglo-American people to grasp the core of its culture, the English language. He trusted in that narrative style that achieves its effects by never straining for effect, assembled it into vivid pictures sufficiently understated to allow an intelligent reader's imagination room to expand, and shaped a literary architecture with a born artist's eye.

His recollections were inevitably partial and selective. As with all memoirs, Grant's was at its best as a revelation of the way he remembered the events of his tumultuous life and the feelings they evoked in him as death drew near. Its truth was less in the details of what he recalled as in the story he had to tell, of justice triumphant over a great evil.

On July 23, 1885, several days after correcting the galley proofs of his book, Grant died in a summer cottage on the slopes of Mount McGregor, New York, surrounded by friends and family. The memoirs, published a few months later, have never been out of print.

Destitute and wracked by throat cancer, Ulysses S. Grant finished writing his Personal Memoirs shortly before his death in 1885. Today their clear prose stands as a model of autobiography. Civil War soldiers are often celebrated for the high literary quality of the letters they sent home from the front lines; Grant's own book is probably the best piece of writing produced by a participant in the War Between the States. Apart from Lincoln, no man deserves more credit for securing the Northern victory than Grant, and this chronicle of campaigns and battles tells how he did it. (The book also made a bundle of money for his family, which had been reeling from the failure of Grant's brokerage firm.) This is not an overview of the entire Civil War; as the North was beating the South on the third day of Gettysburg, for example, Grant was in Mississippi capturing Vicksburg. But it is a great piece of writing, one that can be appreciated even by readers with little interest in military history. --John J. Miller

Customer Reviews:

  • Great American History from two great Americans
    This book is alive! How many 125 year old books are still page turners? This one is. This was Grant's last great effort (and ghost-written with Mark Twain). What could be better? Twain has an energetic writing style that is still highly readable and Grant had an amazing life! It was a best-seller in its day and still makes for great reading today. No lover of American History can say their library is complete without this book. Want to splurge? Get the original through [a rare used book seller]....more info
  • Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant
    Very detailed and complete rendition of the chronology of his personal life as well as his military life. I learned details of both aspects of this era in history....more info
  • Compelling from start to end
    Almost without funds Ulysses S. Grant was aware that on his death from throat cancer his family would find themselves in a serious financial crisis - thus developed the impetus for putting pen to paper to write his Personal Memoirs. Shortly before his death he completed his memoirs and it is to our benefit that he was able to finish the task.

    I read Personal Memoirs with a fascination that was at times bordering on obsession. The book held me from first page to last, this due to the power of the words and the images that they painted. Grant writes with both eloquence and simplicity on his subject matter. He is clear and concise when other memoirs often flit about without a clear focus.

    For this reader as a non American who has not been raised with a Civil War bias - and I accept that not all US citizens will have such a bias - Personal Memoirs is refreshing in it's lack of romanticism - here is a man who `tells it like it is!' Grant it would seem felt that he had nothing to prove with his Memoirs, thus what he wrote is a no frills, honest account devoid of moralising and self-adoration.

    When communicating with the Confederate General who held Fort Donelson there was no ambiguity in Grants words "No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately upon your works." It is this direct approach which Grant was able to convey with such clarity within his memoirs. It is this that is so compelling about Personal Memoirs and indeed in itself gives us an insight into Grant the man

    Grant ends his introduction to Personal Memoirs by commenting "With these remarks I present these volumes to the public, asking no favor but hoping they will meet the approval of the reader." This book met my approval on every count and I recommend it to you highly....more info

  • Old wine in new bottles
    I'm a little irritated at the usually terrific Modern Library. They have hatched a new series of volumes on "War", with a general introduction by Caleb Carr. Apparently, however, aside from the slick covers, no attempt was made to provide the reader with any original material, such as maps, appendices, notes or other scholarly material. The edition of Grant's memoirs contains a new, curt, unhelpful introduction by Geoffrey Perret. (Perret offhandedly mentions that Grant's memory diverges from the facts on more than one occasion, but makes no attempt to further elucidate a matter that would obviously be of high interest to the reader.)The maps are old, crabbed and often difficult to follow; the geographically-challenged reader, such as myself, is often obliged to consult a road atlas to follow the Western campaigns. The memoirs themselves are terrific. Grant's plain, homely soldier's style, with dashes of self-deprecation and dry irony, is engrossing reading....more info
  • the greatness within a seemingly unremarkable man
    Although Grant doesn't blow his own horn, a close reading of his campaign accounts supports the "revisionist" view that far from being a butcher of men and Lee's inferior, Grant's victories (other than Shiloh) were tactical in nature, not brute force charges. (OK, there was Cold Harbor, but that was one mistake in a year-long campaign to destroy the South before the North lost its will to fight. Time was not on Grant's side.) Furthermore, Lee, Jackson, Johnson, et. al. always had the easier side of the equation, playing defense and disrupting the North's long lines of supply and communication.

    This is also an interesting study on how an apparently unremarkable person find greatness within himself when he is in his element, and how a great general can fail as a president because the leadership roles are quite different.

    There is a dry wit in much of Grant's writing which makes it a fun read even if you don't care for the details of his capture of Vicksburg and his eventual destruction of the South's Eastern armies. Grant does not shy away from describing the slogging nature of the war or his mastery of maneuver warfare....more info
  • When man and moment met.
    The book is for the most part wonderful. I was left with a clear understanding of how Grant got to his zenith in the Civil War, but I was left wondering what insights he had into his failed Presidency. As the book was finished 20 years after the war, this seems a curious oversight. It is, of course, an autobiography, so it is necessarily an unobjective view of things. Nonetheless, one message is clear: Grant was truly a man who met with a moment, but who clearly might easily have spent his life as an anonymous merchant in Ohio or as a mathematics instructor at West Point. Once assuming command of the Union Army, he was an efficient leader, but perhaps not a brilliant tactician. What he brought to the table was tenacity, a will to fight, something his predecessors lacked. He latched onto Lee and never let go, understanding that attrition would favor the wealthier and more populous Union. The result was victory, but at an awful toll. Grant's memoirs paints a picture of an honest, unassuming and sometimes sentimental man who was designed for this one mission. The rest of his life was unspectacular, and further reading into his Presidency reveals he had rather poor judgment in politics, but those who cherish this Union owe him a debt of eternal gratitude....more info
  • U S Grant Personal Memoirs
    Written by the dying hand of one of the chosen men of his time. For any scholar of Grant, Civil War or Military History, these readings are a must. Grant's military genius was without equal. Had his superiors, early on, had his keen foresight, the Civil War could have ended a year or two earlier. Another great read is "Grant" by Jean Smith....more info
  • average
    I was unaware that this book only covered information through the Civil War. I am quite aware of his war service,but not very knowledgeable of his life after the war. ...more info
  • America's Greatest General was a Wonderful Human Being
    As I read this book, which includes both volumes of General Grant's memoirs, I couldn't help but wonder how many thousands of people had read it before me over the past 120 some odd years and if they, too, came away as impressed with the general as I have been. And I couldn't help but wonder if they also came to see the general, not as the narrow caricature which has come down to us - as a failure in business, a cigar chewing drunk, a man who willingly led his men to slaughter, and a corrupt president - but as an intelligent, thoughtful, honest, humane, and brilliant leader whose primary failing seems to be that he found it almost impossible to speak ill of his fellow man.

    I learned more about American history by reading this book than I ever learned in school while, at the same time, learning it from a man who was actually helping to create that history before, during, and after the Civil War. In the process, I learned, for the first time, why America is considered by many to be an imperialist nation and why so many Mexicans feel that Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California should legitimately be part of Mexico. I also learned that unscrupulous and conniving politicians are nothing new to the American political scene and that even way back then many leaders, both military and political, placed their fortunes above the call of duty, honor, and country as many do now.

    I have often heard the question asked: "If you could have dinner with any historical figure, living or dead, who would it be?" Before reading this book, I would never have considered Ulysses S. Grant to be that person. Now, I'm not sure he wouldn't be very close to the top of my list. What an interesting man - very human, down to Earth, thoughtful, tolerant, and humble - yet brilliant. Based on my reading of his memoirs, he was simply the kind of man you'd like to have as your best friend, and if you had to fight a war he's the man you'd want to have to plan your strategy.

    I found this book to be interesting throughout, but I particularly enjoyed the early part of volume one, that part leading up to the time at which Grant first became a general, and the final chapter of volume two in which the general summed it all up. Those early chapters show Grant as the man he truly was, and that final chapter is an absolute must read.

    Bottom line: Any serious student of the Civil War must read this book, and anyone having the slightest interest in American history would certainly be wise to read it.
    ...more info
  • Clear Vision of an Executive
    I didn't become engrossed in the Civil War until I visited the Grant/Lee exhibit at the New York Historical Society this summer. There I first saw Grant's Personal Memoirs book displayed. It is an unbelievable, first-hand interpretation of war, leadership, and politics. I'm amazed at Grant's personal relationships with the southern generals, many that he knew from West Point and later fought against. One of my favorite quotes in the book, "The natural disposition of most people is to clothe a commander of a large army whom they do not know, with almost superhuman abilities. A large part of the National army, for instance, and most of the press of the country, clothed General Lee with just such qualities, but I had known him personally, and knew that he was mortal; and it was just as well that I felt this." page 116. Grant starts his book with the Mexican War where he gained experience fighting battles which eventually proves to serve him well in the Civil War. He provides his opinion of the war, southern politics and his feelings towards other generals. I love when he evaluates the actions and performances of generals on both sides just like a business executive would of employees and superiors. For example, Grant was almost arrested for not following orders of the commanding General Halleck. This reminds me of office politics we face during our business lives. Grant clearly lets the reader know his displeasure with Halleck whom he eventually outranks. He lets you know which generals were soldiers and which were not up to the task of fighting. Like Jim Collins in the book Good to Great, Grant tells you about effective generals that were humble. Of General Taylor he writes, ...he never made any great show or parade, either in uniform or retinue...he was known to every soldier in his army, and was respected by all." page 63. Of General Howard from the south, "It occured to me at once that Harris had been as much afraid of me as I had been of him...From that event to the close of the war, I never experienced trepidation upon confronting an enemy...I never forgot that he had as much reason to fear my forces as I had his. This lesson was valuable." page 149. Grant humbly lets the reader know how he was able to win battles, get promoted, and end the war. Basically, most generals on both sides were hesitant to attack where Grant attacked any chance he got. Page 35, "One of my superstitions had always been when I started to go anywhere, or to do anything, not to turn back, or stop until the thing intended was accomplished." President Lincoln eventually recognizes these qualities in Grant and makes in the top general of all the Union armies. Grant had a clear vision and plan and executed it quickly once he had the power to do it. You may be wondering why I gave it a 4 rather than a 5. Sometimes Grant gets into way too much detail about different things where the story and chapter drags on. But if you are patient, you will get by all of this and appreciate the intimacy and first hand experience of one of the most effective generals in US history....more info
  • Compelling, Humble and Well-Written
    Grant's memoirs are a must-read for any serious student of the Civil War. While praise is heaped upon Confederate generals such as Lee and Jackson, Grant's legacy has always been a little more uncertain. His reputation has been associated with allegations of drunkenness, and with an apparent unflinching ability to send men to their slaughter which this book helps to dispel.

    Lincoln loved Grant, as he was the first Union commander who seemed willing to fight it out with Lee's army, and who enjoyed any consistent success. When one considers Grant's predecessors at the helm of the Union army, one can understand Lincoln's enthusiasm. You had McClellan, who never read an exaggerated report of the enemy size he didn't believe; "Fighting Joe Hooker", flanked and embarrassed at Chancellorsville; Burnside, who foolishly sent wave after wave of Union soldiers across the Rappahanock to attack an impregnable stone wall at Fredericksburg; and Pope, who was soundly beaten at Manassas. Meanwhile, Grant caught Abe's attention with his successful siege of Vicksburg in the summer of 1863, as Meade was beating Lee at Gettysburg.

    Reading Grant's Memoirs is a fascinating experience, as the war, at least that part of it involving Grant, comes to life in the hands of a thoughtful commentator. Grant was obviously there, and he shares informative communications with his inferior officers (such as Sherman) and with the President. Grant sent many men to their doom to be sure, (the Wilderness campaign comes to mind as being especially bloody and ineffective), but overall you get the sense that Grant was respected by his men, who were happy to be marching forward and not backwards after a battle. He restored a sense of pride and accomplishment that was sorely lacking in the Union rank and file. He gave cogent reasons in his memoirs for the actions undertaken, sometimes admitting mistakes in humble fashion, and sometimes explaining why a siege would accomplish the same overall goal without unnecessary bloodshed.

    My only regret is that Grant didn't live long enough to write a companion memoir about his presidency, which was clearly outside the scope of this book. Readers who have gotten this far in the Amazon review process are no doubt aware that a broke Grant, stricken with painful throat cancer, wrote out his Memoirs of the Civil War right up until the end of his life to provide financially for his family, finishing the book days before he died. We should all be grateful that he was able to preserve these pages for prosperity, they are truly a model of military memoirs that I consider an extremely rewarding reading experience. When one considers the circumstances in which Grant composed this work, the end result is nothing short of miraculous....more info

  • Inspirational
    Nobody knows Ulysses S. Grant better than Ulysses S. Grant himself. Why bother reading numerous biographies of him when you can actually look inside his mind and learn of his thoughts, his feelings,and his concerns. Witness the incredible journey he made in his life: from an ill-paid shop clerk to the commander-in-chief of the Union Army, and to the 18th President of the United States. Grant was a man who never lost hope, who set his goals up in the sky and built a ladder to reach them. His memoirs are not only an account of the times he lived in, but also a reflection of his powerful character and his venerable spirit....more info
  • Remarkable Memoirs
    This has long been regarded as one of the better memoirs to come out of the post-Civil War period and I can see why. Grant seemed convinced that the course he was on, and more importantly, the course the Union was on, would lead to eventual victory. Grant wrote his memoirs in the hope of providing some financial security for his wife and family upon the event of his death, which came very soon after finishing his memoirs. This is a refreshingly honest, fair, and generally unpretentious account detailing his own role in this pivotal event in American history.

    We get a brief glimpse into his early years, his time as a student at West Point, his military service in the Mexican American War and the most well-known period of Grant's life, his service in the Union army during the Civil War. I found the early part of the book to be very illuminating as I did not know that much about his life before the Civil War. He could be very self-effacing, could admit weaknesses, in other words he just seems to come across as plain spoken and honest about himself. Throughout the book he utters what I considered to be very insightful and thoughtful comments. For example, he admitted the reputation attached to Lee by the Northern press and other Union commanders, but he realized that Lee was still human. He also relates his first encounter as a commander in the Union army as he's about to face the enemy and finds that the enemy was just as frightened as he was. Grant's attitudes toward the earlier war with Mexico and the Southerners' attachment to their cause also offer revealing sentiments.

    I'm not going to describe every campaign Grant was involved in, but you will encounter Grant in the western theatre first, with notable successes achieved at Forts Henry and Donelson, Shiloh, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and etc., up to his appointment as Lieutenant General and head of all U.S. armies in the field. The nearly epic battles fought between Lee and Grant in Virginia from the spring of 1864 up through Lee's surrender at Appomattox in April 1865 are obviously covered, though we also get information on Sherman's movements in Georgia and the Carolinas and other important sections where the war was being waged. I think it's fair to say there is a certain amount of spin or a sort of expectations game being displayed in Grant's memoirs, for example, how the Union armies usually always inflicted heavier casualties on the Confederates, how the North, despite its superiority in numbers, actually had many disadvantages and etc. Some of his points are very valid, but there can also be no doubt that his victories in Virginia came at very heavy costs in terms of Union casualties.

    Grant offers opinions on the quality of the soldiers and officers, both North and South. He also demonstrates throughout his memoirs his rather magnanimous feelings toward his opponents, the rights of Southern citizens and their property (i.e., showing restraint in terms of looting and wanton destruction of private property and etc.). Some of this, I'm sure, was an attempt to improve his own image, but no doubt, there had to be some truth in his sentiments expressed. The maps included in this volume are very detailed, but often difficult to read. As a military narrative of the movements, battles and strategies of the Union armies, this is a must read....more info
  • A Class Act
    I concur with the really good reader reviews above. I will add that what makes Grant's prose so engaging is that it is simple, unadorned, not self flattering, not pompous. It isn't pedantic, dull or uncertain either. In a word, it is Grant. It's probably the best way that you will get to know him. It is the portrait most often attempted by his supporters and the exact opposite of the portrait painted by his detractors. So, Grant presents himself and he is authentic.

    You cannot help admiring Grant for his strengths and endearing qualities, his military accomplishments and his everyman characteristics. If you take his version together with what may be valid criticisms from those less admiring, then you get a pretty well rounded view of Grant. You won't find anything in his autobiography that conflicts with that totality.

    Grant only covers his Civil War in this memoir, not his Presidency. He was in the last stages of a fatal throat cancer and trying to provide for his family. He had that clarity of a man writing to tell the truth about himself. No need to lie or hide. But that's also the reason that we don't hear about some of his grievances, disputes, recollections and characterizations of his contemporaries. We could have learned a lot from that but Grant is very forgiving and like a gentleman - he just won't tell....more info
  • If you only read one book on the Union war effort, read this one
    This is the amazing memoir by U.S. Grant, who rose from obscurity at the outbreak of the war to be the Union's brightest military light. It is slightly apologetic in tone, but much less so than it could have been, considering the degree of scrutiny Grant's command decisions had endured. Among his few regrets are the assaults upon Vicksburg and Cold Harbor.

    One telling anecdote comes from his early life, when he went to buy a colt from a Mr. Ralston. Upon arrival he tells Ralston, "Papa says I may offer you twenty dollars for the colt, but if you won't take that, I am to offer twenty-two and a half, and if you won't take that, to give you twenty-five." As the child is father to the man, so is the horse trader father to the general.
    ...more info
  • A wonderful book
    The story behind publishing of the autobiography of U.S. Grant is as fascinating as the book itself. We all owe Samuel Clemens "Mark Twain" a debt of gratitude for publishing a dying Grant's memories in spite of the financial consequences for his publishing company. It is a must read for anyone interested in American History as well as the Civil War. Every page is a fascinating look into the mind of a great, yet at times troubled, true American hero.
    ...more info
  • Well Written and Very Interesting
    Personal Memoirs by US Grant is a wonderful book. It is well written and very interesting. Grant does not use this book as a tool to make himself look great, but rather it is more like a military after action report where he expalins what has taken place. What is neat is he includes his decision making process for many of the major events. My esteem for President Grant was greatly enhanced by reading this book. It is must reading for any civil war or biography lover....more info
  • One of the Best Books Available on the Civil War
    I have never been much of a Civil War fan, but after reading "The Killer Angels" by Shaara, a historical fiction about Gettysburg, I was interested in following up with some non-fiction about the most important event in US History. This book kept me turning the pages from end to end. Despite its bulk (some 618 pages) I simply couldn't put the book down, as Grant's matter-of-fact description of the events that surrounded him was completely engrossing.

    Grant was not an extraordinary man or brilliant tactician, his soldiers did not have the same obsession with him that the South held for Lee, he simply saw the war for what it was, a campaign against a rebellion. He looked at the entire war in its entirety, from battlefront to battlefront, and he repeatedly used that to his advantage. Many times he makes reference to deploying troops to no clear end other than to occupy an enemies flank, this often as a junior with no authority over the battle as a whole. Grant was a man of action, who realized he had to take a step in order to walk a mile. He took the battle to the enemy, divised clear and necessary steps which were needed to win the war as a whole. He was a general who did not just see the war as independent sets of battles, but saw those battles as a means to ending the Civil War.

    One of my favorite parts of the text was watching the scope of Grant's vision widen. Starting with his actions in the Mexican American War his vision is very limited: he sees only the immediate battle, and his descriptions focus on minutiae reflecting his low rank. His vision escalates with his rank, until the end of the book, with the surrender of Lee, he sees and describes the entire army, and battles that would have once taken chapters to described are now dismissed in single sentences.

    My one disappointment with the book was that it ended with the surrender of Lee at Appomatox. I would have liked to learn more about his actions after the war, and especially learned more about his presidency. I wish that there were similar autobiographies by other presidents, and certainly feel that this one elevated my expectations of all other autobiographies!

    Favote Excerpts:

    "It is men who wait to be selected, and not those who seek, from whom we may always expect the most efficient service." - Grant (page 368)

    "All he wanted or had ever wanted was some one who would take the responsibility and act, and call on him for all the assistance needed, pledging himself to use all the power of the government in rendering such assistance." - Grant on Lincoln (page 370)

    "Wars product many stories of fiction, some of which are told until they are believed to be true." - Grant (page 577)

    "To maintain peace in the future it is necessary to be prepared for war." - Grant (page 614)

    "The war begot a spirit of independence and enterprise. The feeling now is, that a youth must cut loose from his old surroundings to enable him to get up in the world." - Grant (page 616)...more info

  • Better appreciation of a great American
    This book really provides incredible insight into Grant and what made him a great general. In a plainspoken & straightforward manner he gives a recount of his role in the war and his military philosophy (attack). Unlike a modern autobiography we get nothing personal or confessional (not necessarily a bad thing). Any mention of drinking, or his dismal presidency are omitted and his family gets only a paragraph or two; which is fine because no one is interested in Grant's parenting or presidenting tips....more info
  • Simplicity of character is sometimes the highest form
    Grant finished this lengthy memoir on the eve of his death from throat cancer. Impoverished at the time, the ex-President made his wife rich from the proceeds. Simple, straightforward, earnest narrative, sometimes ironic, sometimes colorful, always unpretentious. Inevitably self-justifying, but candid nonetheless.

    The most memorable anecdote describes his first action in the 1861-65 war. Although he was a combat veteran of the Mexican War fourteen years earlier, he was scared, almost frozen, as he led his men against the enemy position. When he arrived, the enemy had evacuated. "The reb commander was as scared as I was. It was a lesson that served me well for the next four years."

    Excellent general's-eye descriptions of the battles for Fort Donaldson, Shiloh, Vicksburg, Cold Harbor. His proudest contribution to the Union victory seems to be his strategy of "coordinated attack". He believed the early rebel success was due to the fragmentation of the National fources, which allowed the outmanned rebels to concentrate on one fragment at a time.

    Grant is full of forthright and fascinating judgments: he revered Lincoln and Sherman, detested Hallek, disliked Stanton but respected him.

    Civil war buff? Don't neglect this. ...more info
  • A book valuable to contemplate
    Civl War afficianados will be fascinated by Grant's detailed discussion of battles. The general reader will find value in the discovery of General Grant's personality. He doesn't boast of his attributes, but the fact that he succeeded as commander of the army of the Patomac where others dithered and failed -- even unusually able and intelligent men -- must make one wonder why, and the answer is revealed in the pages of this book. His discussion of the qualities of various generals is also valuable. Those of us who occupy competative professions will necessarilly find useful the discussion of the qualities of perserverence and courage it takes to successfully prosecute any difficult endeavor -- whether it is a battle for national unity, a jury trial, or even a sales campaign. Lest one think the answer is simply self-confidence, one must pause before Grant's humility and his revealed trepedation at the prospect of high command. Grant is also frank about his dread of his first military engagement of the Civil War, but he learned a valuable lesson when his enemy, who knew he was coming, melted away before he arrived to engage him. Grant learned that his enemy feared him as much as he feared his enemy, and this tempered his fright in future engagements. A person can be better for reading this book and absorbing its lessons, not to say that the book is at all preachy....more info
  • Grant
    I think this is the only real account you can get of the civil war. It's...Great! ...more info
  • Grant on Grant: The Most Impartial View of U.S. Grant
    It is surprising that the most balanced and impartial view of U.S. Grant should be written by Grant himself. His style of writing is clear and sparse, recounting fact as fact and without lengthy editorializing. A must read for any civil war buff or serious historian....more info
  • Powerful and Moving
    A must read for all Civil War buffs and those even remotely interested in history. The 600+ pages in this book (both volume I and II are included together) articulately spell out the military career of one of the United States' greatest generals. Grant's Memoirs are well-written, thoughtful, insightful, and offer more than a glimpse into the mind of U.S. Grant.

    Volume I opens with a heartfelt preface where Grant explains how his diminishing health pushed him to complete this work and "asking no favor but hoping (his remarks) will meet the approval of the reader." They most definitely do. Following the preface, the reader is given a (very) short review of his early childhood, life at West Point, and early Army life. The next one hundred pages are dedicated to the Mexican War followed by his resignation from the military and civilian life in Illinois. The remainder of Volume I and all of Volume II extensively deal with the War Between the States.

    I found Volume I (written before Grant realized he was critically ill) to be rich in detail of the various military campaigns (perhaps too detailed) and his ascension through the military ranks, but it is somewhat lacking in personal observations and insights. It even drags at times--but stick with it. The patient reader will not be dissapointed. Volume II hurls the reader into the conflict, reads rapidly, and is rife with Grant's personal observations and insights.

    This second volume picks up where the first left off--following Vicksburg to the campaigns in Tennessee to the Battle of the Wilderness to Sherman's March to the Sea to the Battle of Franklin right up to Appomattox and all the events of April and May 1865. These campaigns are told from the commanding general's perspective with great overview and detail. However, what really makes Volume II (and this volume is much more fast paced than the first) special are all the personal observations and insightful (rarely negative and always humble) comments about those Grant served with and against. Grant is thoughtful and displays much about himself as this great book draws to a close. An eloquently written, detailed, first-person account of the Civil War that offers much to those who read it.

    I cannot recommend this book highly enough....more info

  • The Great Union General can write.
    This is one of the best, if not the best autobigoraphy of any major military leader. This is the most insightfull view of the cival war, after all he was there. Grant writes in a clear detirmined tone, and is suprisingly modest and fair to all sides. The vast majority of the book is written about his military career. He gives one of the best acounts of the Mexican War, and a long and very descriptive account of his Cival War campains. He talks very little about his years in private life, or his years as president. He seemed to feel uncomforable out of uniform, and trusted the wrong people too much.

    Very few people come across as well as Grant in their autobiographies. One of the great military leaders this country has had. As a general, much like Washington. he was only a good but not brilliant tactian. What made him great was that he simply knew how to win, and did whatever he had to win. He understood that war is not about honor, it is about winning, and sending the troops home with their goal acomplished....more info