My Review | Grant

GrantGrant by Ron Chernow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I didn’t know anything about Ulysses S. Grant, but I picked this book up in part because I was interested in what happened to the slaves right after they were emancipated. Former slaves had no money, no land, no prospects, no Internet, no cars. Well, this book touches on this subject, but — of course — the book is about a man. An important man in American history. It’s about General Grant who saved America. He fought the Civil War to end slavery. That’s what he believed and that’s how he conducted the war effort, to end slavery. Grant and General Grant did not fight the war over state’s rights, as the Daughters of the Confederacy would like you to believe. It was about saving the country and ending slavery.

Grant went to West Point and became a notable soldier in the war against Mexico. He resigned (kicked out) from the Army because of his drinking and experienced years of humiliating failure. He joined the Union Army and quickly rose in the ranks eventually becoming the leader of the entire Union Army. The book covers the battles and campaigns of the Civil War in great detail and I enjoyed the telling a great deal even though the war was brutal. Grant became a national hero and Lincoln himself worried that Grant would run for the Presidency.

Grant attempted to do right by the Black men with Reconstruction, providing civil rights to the recently freed men. He was not perfect. But I admired his successes, felt sick about his failures and broken hearted by his death.

After his two terms as President, Grant and his family went on a world tour that lasted two-and-a-half years. He was greeted as a hero and met with dignitaries throughout Europe, Russia, Africa, India, the Middle East, Japan and China as an unofficial diplomat for the United States. There were some issues in France because Grant was not a fan of Napoleon, but he visited Paris three times on his world tour, making numerous stops at the Louvre. He spent weeks traveling up the Nile in Egypt, where villagers called him, “The King of America.” He was always hurting for money throughout his life. When he was diagnosed with throat cancer, and his chances to survive were not good, he decided wrote his memoirs, because he rightly assumed the book would sell well and help his surviving family financially. His publisher was Mark Twain, a great admirer of the President. Twain created a very successful and unusual national marketing plan for the book. Books sales were remarkable. General Grant died just a few days after finishing writing the book. One more heroic, bittersweet act. Five stars.

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