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In his time, Ulysses S. Grant was routinely grouped with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in the "Trinity of Great American Leaders." But the battlefield commander-turned-commander-in-chief fell out of favor in the twentieth century. In American Ulysses, Ronald C. White argues that we need to once more revise our estimates of him in the twenty-first. Based on seven years of research with primary documents--some of them never examined by previous Grant scholars--this is destined to become the Grant biography of our time. White, a biographer exceptionally skilled at writing momentous history from the inside out, shows Grant to be a generous, curious, introspective man and leader--a willing delegator with a natural gift for managing the rampaging egos of his fellow officers. His wife, Julia Dent Grant, long marginalized in the historic record, emerges in her own right as a spirited and influential partner. Grant was not only a brilliant general but also a passionate defender of equal rights in post-Civil War America. After winning election to the White House in 1868, he used the power of the federal government to battle the Ku Klux Klan. He was the first president to state that the government's policy toward American Indians was immoral, and the first ex-president to embark on a world tour, and he cemented his reputation for courage by racing against death to complete his Personal Memoirs. Published by Mark Twain, it is widely considered to be the greatest autobiography by an American leader, but its place in Grant's life story has never been fully explored--until now. One of those rare books that successfully recast our impression of an iconic historical figure, American Ulysses gives us a finely honed, three-dimensional portrait of Grant the man--husband, father, leader, writer--that should set the standard by which all future biographies of him will be measured. Praise for American Ulysses " Ronald C. White] portrays a deeply introspective man of ideals, a man of measured thought and careful action who found himself in the crosshairs of American history at its most crucial moment."--USA Today "White delineates Grant's virtues better than any author before. . . . By the end, readers will see how fortunate the nation was that Grant went into the world--to save the Union, to lead it and, on his deathbed, to write one of the finest memoirs in all of American letters."--The New York Times Book Review "Ronald White has restored Ulysses S. Grant to his proper place in history with a biography whose breadth and tone suit the man perfectly. Like Grant himself, this book will have staying power."--The Wall Street Journal "Magisterial . . . Grant's esteem in the eyes of historians has increased significantly in the last generation. . . . American Ulysses] is the newest heavyweight champion in this movement."--The Boston Globe "Superb . . . illuminating, inspiring and deeply moving."--Chicago Tribune "In this sympathetic, rigorously sourced biography, White . . . conveys the essence of Grant the man and Grant the warrior."--Newsday
- ISBN-13: 9781400069026
- ISBN-10: 1400069025
- Publisher: Random House
- Publish Date: October 2016
- Page Count: 864
- Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-07-18
- Reviewer: Staff
Concerned that Grant, a Civil War general and two-term U.S. president, “has slipped from our American memory,” White (A. Lincoln), a historian and fellow at the Huntington Library, has crafted an exhaustive biography that offers a reevaluation of Grant’s life. Presenting Grant as “exceptional,” White excels at depicting the public man: his life as a soldier, as a businessman, as a politician. The author’s style is fluid and engaging, which makes this behemoth a page-turner. His mastery of history is clear on every page. Yet the eight years of Grant’s presidency receive far less attention than his four years of Civil War service, which suggests that Grant was less exceptional at the former than the latter. Also, White periodically includes details that come across as extraneous, though military aficionados will revel in the painstaking battle recreations. And he’s less successful in describing Grant’s private life. Critical of other biographies for shortchanging Julia Dent Grant, White doesn’t do much better. She and their children remain in the background, woven in as brief asides. It’s the same with religion, which seemed to matter to Grant—but exactly how isn’t clear. Impressive for its breadth, if not always its depth, White’s is a remarkable biography of a remarkable life. Maps & illus. (Oct.)