Monday, November 6, 2017

Grant: The 'Drunk' Who Preserved The Union

Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden offers a good review in the Washington Times of Ron Chernow’s Grant.

At hand is a masterpiece of biography, the best of the genre that I have encountered in almost seven decades of reading. Ron Chernow’s book should vault Ulysses S. Grant into a deserved but long-denied position in the front rank of great American presidents.

Grant’s legacy long suffered for two reasons: his reputation of being a heavy driver, only partially deserved, and multiple scandals that marred his two-term presidency, although he was not personally involved any of the affairs. Mr. Chernow’s detailed book examines both issues in a detail I have not seen in earlier biographies, and he essentially acquits Grant.

The “drunk” label was plastered on Grant with good cause. During the Mexican war, the West Point graduate earned a record for gallantry. Then he was assigned to a remote base in California, far from his wife. A business deal soured, costing him what meager money he possessed. A binge followed, and he was dismissed from the Army.

...To insure a future for his wife, Grant spent his last years writing a memoir of his Civil War experiences. And here is the most moving section of Mr. Chernow’s masterful work. Grant wrote as he was dying of painful cancer of the tongue. Barely able to speak beyond a whisper or hold a pen, he produced a work that Mr. Chernow calls “the foremost military memoir in the English language.” The two-volume work quickly sold 300,00 copies and left his widow a fortune of $450,000. The memoir continues to sell.

In brief: the deserved resurrection of a decent man whose military acumen preserved the Union.

You can read the rest of the review via the below link:

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