Personal Memoirs Of U.S. Grant
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Faced with cancer and financial ruin, Ulysses S. Grant wrote his memoirs to secure his family's future. Acclaimed by writers such as Mark Twain and Gertrude Stein, the memoirs demonstrated the intelligence, intense determination, and laconic modesty that made Grant the Union's foremost commander.

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:

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Now That's A President
    There's a natural tendency when reading a presidential autobiography to compare the subject to the current leader. In this case it is hard to believe that Grant and Clinton belong to the same species.

    Ulysses S. Grant embodied valor and probity on and off the battlefield. Bill Clinton has achieved historical profligacy in and out of his trousers. Modern day illuminati may scoff in disbelief at Grant's non-boastful statement that he never used profanity, but that is consistent with the integrity that guided his actions. Clinton will long be remembered for perpetuating the most obscene activities unimaginable within the confines of the Oval Office.

    While one dodged the draft, spent the war in England, and regularly lead protests against his the country, the other spent years demonstrating patriotic fortitude by fighting in an even more controversial and divisive war. Leading the Union army to victory in the Civil War, Grant stands as one as one of the most salient figures who prevented the United States from being permanently splintered. It's easy to wonder what he would think of today's widespread push for group rights that pose nearly as serious threat to the nation's cohesion. He commanded a willing army of magnanimous soldiers in a bloody war to bring the races together and now major efforts are underway to split them apart by rampant multicultural separatism a century later.

    Grant constantly displayed a steadfast devotion to his family just as Clinton repeated betrays his. The general saw his wife and children as often as he could during the war, and it was his desire to be reunited with his children who were then in New Jersey that kept him from accompanying Abraham Lincoln to the theater on that fateful night. Once during the war when his oldest son was fighting a life-threatening illness, he obtained permission to pay a visit but could not relinquish command of the military. Dedicated to both his duties as soldier and father (two areas where Clinton has proved less than stellar), he went to St. Louis and maintained control of the army via messengers and the telegraph.

    If for no other reason, this book warrants a read because it bears witness to a once-in-a-lifetime moment in history: Grant's first meeting with Lincoln. This momentous occasion was shared by the author's eldest son shortly after his recovery form the nearly fatal ailment.

    There are two major aspects of General Grant's life missing. His victory over alcoholism is not mentioned nor even alluded to. In the late 1800's this affliction was probably not widely viewed as a disease. Rather it was seen as a weakness of character. Grant most likely was ashamed of this deficiency and did not want to be seen either as immoral or a victim-another far cry of the current "it's not my fault that I can't keep my pants on" attitude of the present commander in chief. The second lacuna is his presidency. The book ends shortly after the war and throughout only passing references are made to his tenure in the highest office in the land. Grant knew he was dying when he wrote this work-it was his effort to provide for his widow (the deviation from Clintontonism here goes without saying), and the millions in royalties it earned fulfilled this final goal admirably. Perhaps cancer prevented the second volume which no doubt would have done justice his presidency. Still, this work is enough to explicitly contrast his differences from Clinton. The war record proves that Grant was a somewhat underrated president and a most extraordinary man; now we are stuck with a grossly overrated president who could not be underrated as a man....more info

  • American peace process
    Grant thought the war with Mexico was deceitful aggression, but he served America honorably. With Sherman's help he came to understand what the Civil war was about and how it had to be conducted - with unflinching brutality. Grant, a deeply humble and honest person, was intellectually superior to Lincoln. He and Sherman stand head and shoulders above Clausewitz. Grant wanted freed blacks to become dignified, self-supporting citizens and he set in motion a successful program to accomplish that. His compassionate wisdom was ignored and we are still a divided, rancorous and unjust nation as a result.

    Other nations later paid a terrible price for ignoring Grant's dogged defense of the Union; at Appomatox Lee had almost nothing to surrender since most southern soldiers had deserted. That's what war had become - not tactical brilliance but grinding down the opponents' will. Carnage. Petersburg pointed the way to the stalemate on the Marne; Shiloh reads like the Battle of the Bulge. If European leaders had learned from Grant there would be no disastrous Versailles to reinvigorate German will.

    Grant's personal reflections should be the basic American schoolbook. Well, maybe the maps could be improved. And the diary of General Pemberton's lady companion might be overlooked....more info

  • A Great Story Meets A Great Writer
    That U.S. Grant is telling one of history's great tragic and glorious stories as the key actor would make this book a fine piece in its own right. He has a gift for story telling that renders his Personal Memoirs compelling and engrossing. One of the best books I have read. It is remarkable from several levels. First, it is undeniably great history. The story of our Civil War is moving enough to leave a tremendous impression upon the reader in Grant's hands. Second, this book is a great study in management. Grant succeeded where scores failed at similar command levels throughout the Civil War. He did due to his: knowledge and focus on his mission; his ability to conceive plans that served his mission; his ability to have alternatives that stayed the course; his ability to learn from mistakes and experience; his calm in the face of stress and chaos; his decisiveness and his willingness to take reasonable risks.

    This book surprised me by being an excellent management study. The lessons which are easy to take away from the book are aplicable to anyone who is faced with mission definition and achievement. It should be must reading in MBA programs.

    Grant's lack of ego is surprising when compared to other Civil War figures and high achievers who have reflected on their lives and actions. By not only focusing on things that went right for Grant, the book has a tremendous credibility borne of real life trial and error, frustration, lessons learned and later employed.

    A great book....more info

  • Superb! Simply the best military memoir I've read.
    No less an eminent man of letters than Mark Twain called Ulysses S. Grant's "Personal Memoirs" "the best [memoirs] of any General's than Caesars." Having now read this outstanding work along with those of Julius Caesar, William T. Sherman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, Colin Powell and H. Norman Schwarzkopf, I must agree with Mark Twain's assessment. For sheer honesty, humility, and simple but powerful language, U.S. Grant's memoirs are without peer.

    Grant allows the reader to go along with him and live once again his experiences during the Mexican War and American Civil War. He interjects his own judgments and opinions sparingly, yet always honestly. Where he feels he made mistakes, he admits them freely, and his criticisms of his colleagues is always tempered by an obvious attitude of professionalism. The fact that Grant wrote a memoir of such eloquence while dying from cancer makes it all the more powerful a book.

    I found this modern library edition especially outstanding. The introductory notes by Caleb Carr and Geoffrey Perret, while brief, are extremely informative. Maps and etchings from the original 1885 Charles Webster & Co. edition are included, as is General Grant's report to Secretary of War Stanton on Civil War operations during 1864-65. This appendix makes fantastic reading by itself!

    I highly recommend this outstanding edition to all Civil War and military history enthusiasts. It is simply the best military memoir I've ever read....more info

  • The BEST book ever written in history!
    An incredible book by an incredible man. I have never read a greater, grander book in my life. He wrote it when he was dying, yet you'd never know it from the words in the book. The greatest reading experience in my life, bar none. Read this book to understand this beautiful man!...more info
  • Found volume 1 of A book written by U.S. Grant
    We have found volume 1 of a series of books written by U.S. Grant. The book is called " Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant. I was wondering the value or any information you have on this book to be e-mailed to me....more info
    General Grant's simplicity, clarity and generosity shine through every page. When I thought of his suffering as he wrote to repair his family's fortunes, I had tears in my eyes. Extraordinary! He is so generous to his collegues (exception: Gen Thomas) and even-handed. Gen. Grant *does* take exception to the view that he was "surprised" at Shiloh. I think he was, but I would never dream of saying so. I have read that he never drank when Mrs. Grant was present and that his superiors considered her a secret weapon.

    Reading General Grant's memoirs makes you feel better and ---yes!----proud to be an American....more info

  • Natural progression from Shaara books to Grant.
    Having never been much interested in the Civil War before reading "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara I have become entranced by first "trial by fire" of democracy. To understand why we do not live like the people in Kosovo, Chile or Jakarta you must understand how close we came in the 1860's....more info
  • Rates with the finest prose........
    Rates with the finest prose ever written by an American. Clear, far less self-aggrandizing than the memoirs of most other famous Civil War soldiers, & at times, when Grant salutes the valor of his men, very moving. Bob Rixon...more info
  • The Greatest Book I have Ever Read
    The greatest book I have ever read. Grant writes in a way I have never seen before. Simple, yet with details and great substance. Gives you great insite into who he was, and where he came from....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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Grant
    I think this is the only real account you can get of the civil war. It's...Great! ...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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Master of Strategy as Well as Language
    The plain fact is U.S. Grant seldom gets the credit he deserves as a general. Conducting offensive operations into enemy territory is far and away the most difficult strategic task a commander can master and Grant did it for 4 years with consistent success. Writers usually reduce his accomplishments by insisting it was entirely the superioity of numbers and equipment that gave him victories, completely ignoring the fact that every other Union general who attacked the south and failed had those same advantages. Add to his mastery of strategy the fact that he was quite simply one of the best writers of his day. His prose is elegant, clear, and impossible to misunderstand. This memoir is informative, honest, and wonderfully written. Mark Twain referred to it as the greatest book in the English language. Grant was a man whose qualities are not instantly apparent. When you study him enough, you learn that he was a man capable of intense concentration and inexhaustible determination. It is worth noting that during the war, Grant almost never moved an army back in the direction from which it had come. He only went forward, determined to complete whatever task he had been given. Grant's writing and his military career prove that sometimes simplicity is a special kind of genius....more info
  • Great book
    This is the best book I have ever read. It is the first book I bought that I actually highlighted quotes from. It is one of the best books on the War between the States from one of the most important figures in American History....more info
  • Do NOT I repeat DO NOT get this edition...
    Don't get me wrong, this is an incredible Memoir, but the edition that you want is the one by the Library of America. Yes you will pay a little more, but you will get a better quality edition, and you will get 200 pages of letters written by Grant, including letters sent to Lincoln and Halleck. These letters give you an even better insight of Grant the general/husband /person.

    If there is anyway at all possible that you can spend the extra $9 I recommend doing it. If you are on a shoe string budget then buy this edition. It is a 5 star memoir, even without the letters.

    I have a full review at the other edition, but I will say that I cannot recommend Grant's memoirs enough. It really is an awesome book.

    ...more info
  • The wielder of the terrible swift sword writes his memoirs
    I entirely agree with the praise that previous reviewers have heaped upon these extraordinary memoirs. It is beyond a shadow of doubt that the two finest autobiographical works in American history are this by Grant and the earlier one of Benjamin Franklin.

    Grant is a remarkable prose stylist who offers unforgettable set-pieces: life as an indifferent and non-soldierly cadet at West Point, downplayed heroics of a junior officer in the Mexican War, dreary days in far-off California, waiting fretfully in General McClellan's outer office while hoping that one of the gilded staff officers might notice him; taking command of his first regiment and being introduced to the troops as "United States" Grant, leading a brigade over a hill to discover that the enemy commander had been even more frightened of him than he had been of the Confederate, demanding the capitulation of his once and future friend Confederate Simon Bolivar Buckner to earn the name of "Unconditional Surrender" Grant, Grant as supreme commander offering a command to McClellan only to be turned down because Little Mac had the presidential bug, and finally that amazing, brilliantly etched scene in which the dusty Union generalissimo meets the magnificently turned-out Robert E. Lee in the living room of a house at Appomattox Court House.

    That said, I feel obliged to warn that neither Franklin nor Grant should be given their readers' absolute trust. About Franklin I shall say no more than that he was simultaneously one of the most admirable men who ever lived and more than a little bit of a scoundrel. Only such a man of corkscrew soul could have performed so exquisitely at the Court of Louis XVI during the War of Independence.

    Grant was not a man who wrote to justify his failures (such as about half the Yankees and almost all the Confederates) nor was he a man to re-fight ancient battles (such as Jubal Early), but he did have his pet peeves. Grant's method of dealing with them was to blot them out of history. During the war, one of the most prominent members of Grant's inner circle was John Rawlins, who often served as de facto chief of staff in an army which did not yet have a general staff. After the war, Grant took notice that Rawlins had often been far more concerned about Grant going on a bender than he'd been with fighting Confederates and, worse, that some thought Rawlins to be the brains behind Grant's military successes. Those were subjects about which Grant had become touchy, to say the least. In the memoirs, Rawlins is reduced to a faint figure in the background.

    Throughout the war, Grant had been friendly with and highly respectful of Henry Wager Halleck, known in the army as "Old Brains," for awhile his immediate superior in command. Grant believed that Halleck had protected him and supported him against attacks from envious generals and Washington politicians. When Grant was researching these memoirs by examining the War Department files, he came upon correspondence between Halleck, then commander of the western theater and McClellan, the overall Union commander. They had clucked like a pair of hens over the manifold sins of loutish, drunken, lazy, insubordinate Grant, almost to the point of dismissing him from command. Grant quietly blew a gasket. Halleck was hurled into the outer darkness with Rawlins.

    Grant, then, does not tell quite the whole story but, ah, what he does tell is magnificent. This is a true classic!

    Five stars....more info
  • Great Observations of Early America
    This book contains some great observations of early American life and attitudes. Also, since Grant was an Army officer out West for a couple of years, he includes some interesting descriptions of San Francisco, Oregon Territory, and Panama around 1850 if I remember correctly.

    Also, if you are interested in Grant's Mexican campaigns between Texas and Mexico City, this is a good perspective on that. It sure refreshed my memory on what that was all about.

    However, approximately 2/3 of the text is detailed descriptions about the Civil War, complete with every troop movement and minor skirmish. That gets old quickly. Thanks, Steve Willie, Olympia, WA...more info