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Grant

de Ron Chernow

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2,265596,808 (4.47)73
Biography & Autobiography. History. Military. Nonfiction. HTML:The #1 New York Times bestseller and New York Times Book Review 10 Best Books of 2017
??Eminently readable but thick with import . . . Grant hits like a Mack truck of knowledge.? ??Ta-Nehisi CoatesThe Atlantic
Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Chernow returns with a sweeping and dramatic portrait of one of our most compelling generals and presidents, Ulysses S. Grant.
 
Ulysses S. Grant's life has typically been misunderstood. All too often he is caricatured as a chronic loser and an inept businessman, or as the triumphant but brutal Union general of the Civil War. But these stereotypes don't come close to capturing him, as Chernow shows in his masterful biography, the first to provide a complete understanding of the general and president whose fortunes rose and fell with dizzying speed and frequency.
 
Before the Civil War, Grant was flailing. His business ventures had ended dismally, and despite distinguished service in the Mexican War he ended up resigning from the army in disgrace amid recurring accusations of drunkenness. But in war, Grant began to realize his remarkable potential, soaring through the ranks of the Union army, prevailing at the battle of Shiloh and in the Vicksburg campaign, and ultimately defeating the legendary Confederate general Robert E. Lee. Along the way, Grant endeared himself to President Lincoln and became his most trusted general and the strategic genius of the war effort. Grant??s military fame translated into a two-term presidency, but one plagued by corruption scandals involving his closest staff members.
More important, he sought freedom and justice for black Americans, working to crush the Ku Klux Klan and earning the admiration of Frederick Douglass, who called him ??the vigilant, firm, impartial, and wise protector of my race.? After his presidency, he was again brought low by a dashing young swindler on Wall Street, only to resuscitate his image by working with Mark Twain to publish his memoirs, which are recognized as a masterpiece of the genre.
 
With lucidity, breadth, and meticulousness, Chernow finds the threads that bind these disparate stories together, shedding new light on the man whom Walt Whitman described as ??nothing heroic... and yet the greatest hero.? Chernow??s probing portrait of Grant's lifelong struggle with alcoholism transforms our understanding of the man at the deepest level. This is America's greatest biographer, bringing movingly to life one of our finest but most underappreciated presidents. The definitive biography, Grant is a grand synthesis of painstaking research and literary brilliance that makes sense of all sides of Grant's life, explaining how this simple Midwesterner could at once be so ordinary and so extraordinary.
Named one of the best books of the year by Goodreads ? Amazon ? The New York Times ? Newsday ? BookPage ? Barnes and
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» Mira també 73 mencions

Es mostren 1-5 de 59 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Known primarily as the general who accepted Lee's surrender at Appomattox, Ulysses Grant, in the hands of Ron Chernow, moves through his varied history as a man fully alive, capable of reaching into the future to influence a still troubled nation. ( )
  ben_r47 | Feb 22, 2024 |
A few hours ago, my wife and I returned from our annual sojourn to a warmer climate. As we so often do, we mixed in a little culture during our lengthy drive. This time, on our way home we took a detour through Alabama.

At the same time, I used the vacation to get through the mammoth biography of Ulysses S. Grant by Ron Chernow of “Alexander Hamilton” fame. I’ve read several of Chernow’s books including his biography of Alexander Hamilton, another of John D. Rockefeller, another on the Morgan banking dynasty, and yet another on the Warburg family of German and American financiers.

As a warmup for the biography I had gotten through a sizeable amount of Grant’s memoirs. The memoirs are excellent but there are clearly parts of the story that didn’t get told, and this was what I was hoping Chernow would fill in.

In addition to being the victor at Appomattox, Grant was 18th President of the United States and he served two terms. Grant’s tenure was marred by frequent bouts of corruption, largely by his appointees not Grant himself, and extreme violence in the South as his government rolled out the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the US Constitution.

These amendments included the official abolition of slavery, the guarantee of citizenship for former slaves, and the right to vote.

While all three were irritants to southerners, the last of the three threatened to severely alter the balance of power in municipal, state, and federal levels of government. Hooded riders in the newly formed Ku Klux Klan rode through the night shooting, lynching, whipping and dismembering blacks and Republicans who favoured equality before the law provisions for the four million newly enfranchised blacks.

Grant sent in troops to try to enforce the law and maintain a semblance of order in the south. The Federal Government sent in troops to ensure compliance and protect blacks.

And they succeeded…for a while. But eventually northerners lost their zeal for Reconstruction. Grant eventually left office and those who followed no longer had the will of the people behind them to enforce the law, even after passing the Civil Rights Act of 1875 that clearly forbade segregation.

And that’s the way things stood more or less for the next 80 years.

Carol and I drove into Montgomery, Alabama, hoping for a glimpse what changed things. We visited the Dexter Street Church where Martin Luther King began his career as a pastor, and where Rosa Parks bravely refused to yield her seat on the segregated Montgomery bus on September of 1955, launching the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and an early event in the Civil Rights movement.

We continued on to Selma, crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge that became the site of Bloody Sunday where on March 7 1965 peaceable marchers walked into the dogs and batons of local police and Alabama State Troopers.

At the east end of the bridge today is a small museum commemorating the events and in that museum is a genuine Ku Klux Klan robe complete with whip. It sent shivers down our backs. The KKK originated out of paroled Confederate soldiers in the 1860s. Grant and his commanders indicted thousands of those riders and the KKK disappeared….for a while. They reappeared in Jim Crow south in the 1920’s which took over that society. And throughout the early 20th century the beatings, the lynchings, the murders, rape, and intimidation continued unchecked. And few of the criminals were brought to justice.

Lastly we visited the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, where on September 15, 1965, while a Sunday school lesson was in progress in the church basements, racist things detonated a bomb that murdered four innocent children. They struck out at the church which become a centre for planning civil rights activities.

Bloody Sunday coaxed President Lyndon Johnson to shepherd through Congress first the Civil Rights Act and later the Voting Rights Act fulfilling what he believed was the intention of the Kennedy Administration before John Kennedy’s gruesome assassination.

The lessons of Grant and the Civil Rights movement were not lost on us. The clear line from the early violence perpetrated against newly enfranchised blacks, which Chernow highlights in the Grant story, to the violence of the 1950’s and 1960’s was not lost on us, nor is the current environment so heavy with the execution of Trayvon Martin, police profiling of blacks, and the gross incarceration rates of blacks from America’s inner cities.

So dispiriting about the progress of black voting rights these days includes the extreme gerrymandering of congressional districts in N. Carolina and elsewhere, the new state plans for enforcing identity cards for voters, and non-enforcement of provisions of the Voting Rights Act since the installation of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.

This what our March Break taught us this year.

While I did enjoy the biography immensely, several aspects of it left me puzzled. For example, after the south lost the war, Congress passed three amendments to the US Constitution, the 13th, 14th, and 15th. The 13th abolished slavery, which presumably was the point of the war; the 14th made four million blacks citizens of the United States, again not something that lacked logic given that the people were already there and for the most part had nowhere to go; and the 15th gave former male slaves the right to vote.

It was this last amendment that brought an orgy of violence across the south and forced Grant to send in the troops to restore a semblance of order. Here were these people, illiterate for the most part, without any means other than the sweat of their brow to stave off starvation, with no political or economic power to hurt anybody, and the response of many southerners was to beat them, lynch them, bash their brains out with the butt of rifles, to do anything in fact to keep them from organizing on behalf of the radical Republicans.

It wasn’t as though they were outsiders; they were integral part of the southern society before the war, in some situations integral part of families, especially women and children who were tied by blood to white planters. Aside from fight for their freedom, what did they do to deserve the violence.

Chernow makes the point that Grant was respected by the abolitionist North for having accomplished Lincoln’s goals; he was also lauded by the South for his honourable treatment of the Southern commanders and soldiers upon surrender. Yet it was these very same soldiers who later rode in the night in white robes to terrorize the black population. Letting them go home to their families, in retrospect doesn’t look like such a good idea, even if it appeared politic at the time.

And Chernow seems to accept the conclusion of historians that Grant’s success came because he knew most of the southern commanders and was able to anticipate their actions. He clearly didn’t anticipate their actions after surrender because many went on to rape and pillage and murder.

What Grant needed at the close of war was more political leadership than he got. And when as President he tried to enforce Reconstruction he needed a lot more time to succeed than Northern voters gave him and the Republicans.

The orgy of violence that characterized Reconstruction on the one hand I found surprising, but given what those Confederate (and Union) soldiers witnessed during war, and what we know about Post-Traumatic Stress today, it wasn’t all that surprising. People carried the nightmares of the battlefields to their deaths. The dead and the dying. The surgeons removing limbs when there were no effective anaesthesia. The noise and later the stench of the dead.

The book made me want to read more about Reconstruction, and about the lives of Confederates like Nathan Bedford Forrest. Bedford Forrest was among those southern commanders who rose from a non-military background. He was poor as a child, looked after his siblings while barely out of childhood himself, and eventually went on to become a wealthy horse trader. Bedford Forrest came to lead many successful cavalry charges, but when the war was over he went back to his home and business. Having been a slave trader he lost his livelihood and almost immediately began plotting against defenceless blacks. He commanded a force which slaughtered defenceless blacks at the end of the war. He became the first Grand Wizard of the KKK but later denounced violence against blacks toward the end of his life. ( )
  MylesKesten | Jan 23, 2024 |
I struggled with this book at times. The author does use quotes and illustrations to make the narrative quite entertaining, but from a historical perspective I have a lot to question when he's inserting his thoughts and opinions about what Grant thinks or feels. I also had difficulty getting through the war section, after reading better accounts from Shelby Foote and others. I know that Grant's drinking is a major issue, but the overwhelming reporting on every episode of drinking whether it was confirmed or not was quite tedious.
In regards to the audiobook, the narrator Bramhall did an excellent job. Well worth the listen.
Overall I would say this is a good read, especially if you're looking for an interesting story, but I would not use it for historical reference. ( )
  wvlibrarydude | Jan 14, 2024 |
A magnificent book, a book of a thousand accents which the narrator does an awesome job recreating. A rags to riches and almost back to rags the author vividly portrays era in which Grant lived. ( )
  charlie68 | Oct 12, 2023 |
This is an extraordinary piece of writing about an extraordinary man. The brief references to Ulysses Grant that I have encountered before never conveyed the deep significance of his life for the nation at its most endangered time. The combination of military genius, unshakable honesty, commitment to the welfare of African-Americans, love for ordinary life, and tragic inability to see the flaws in others makes for a riveting story. All of it against the backdrop of the momentous changes in the 19th century, which brought the US out of colonial obscurity to the national stage. ( )
  itheodore | Aug 5, 2023 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 59 (següent | mostra-les totes)
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.
 
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(Introduction) Even as other civil war generals rushed to publish their memoirs, flaunting their conquests and cashing in on their celebrity, Ulysses S. Grant refused to trumpet his accomplishments in print.
On April 27, 1822, Ulysses S. Grant was born in Point Pleasant, Ohio, tucked away in the rural southwestern corner of the state near Cincinnati.
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Biography & Autobiography. History. Military. Nonfiction. HTML:The #1 New York Times bestseller and New York Times Book Review 10 Best Books of 2017
??Eminently readable but thick with import . . . Grant hits like a Mack truck of knowledge.? ??Ta-Nehisi CoatesThe Atlantic
Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Chernow returns with a sweeping and dramatic portrait of one of our most compelling generals and presidents, Ulysses S. Grant.
 
Ulysses S. Grant's life has typically been misunderstood. All too often he is caricatured as a chronic loser and an inept businessman, or as the triumphant but brutal Union general of the Civil War. But these stereotypes don't come close to capturing him, as Chernow shows in his masterful biography, the first to provide a complete understanding of the general and president whose fortunes rose and fell with dizzying speed and frequency.
 
Before the Civil War, Grant was flailing. His business ventures had ended dismally, and despite distinguished service in the Mexican War he ended up resigning from the army in disgrace amid recurring accusations of drunkenness. But in war, Grant began to realize his remarkable potential, soaring through the ranks of the Union army, prevailing at the battle of Shiloh and in the Vicksburg campaign, and ultimately defeating the legendary Confederate general Robert E. Lee. Along the way, Grant endeared himself to President Lincoln and became his most trusted general and the strategic genius of the war effort. Grant??s military fame translated into a two-term presidency, but one plagued by corruption scandals involving his closest staff members.
More important, he sought freedom and justice for black Americans, working to crush the Ku Klux Klan and earning the admiration of Frederick Douglass, who called him ??the vigilant, firm, impartial, and wise protector of my race.? After his presidency, he was again brought low by a dashing young swindler on Wall Street, only to resuscitate his image by working with Mark Twain to publish his memoirs, which are recognized as a masterpiece of the genre.
 
With lucidity, breadth, and meticulousness, Chernow finds the threads that bind these disparate stories together, shedding new light on the man whom Walt Whitman described as ??nothing heroic... and yet the greatest hero.? Chernow??s probing portrait of Grant's lifelong struggle with alcoholism transforms our understanding of the man at the deepest level. This is America's greatest biographer, bringing movingly to life one of our finest but most underappreciated presidents. The definitive biography, Grant is a grand synthesis of painstaking research and literary brilliance that makes sense of all sides of Grant's life, explaining how this simple Midwesterner could at once be so ordinary and so extraordinary.
Named one of the best books of the year by Goodreads ? Amazon ? The New York Times ? Newsday ? BookPage ? Barnes and

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