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4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  4,439 ratings  ·  128 reviews
Ulysses S. Grant was the first four-star general in the history of the United States Army and the only president between Andrew Jackson and Woodrow Wilson to serve eight consecutive years in the White House. As general in chief, Grant revolutionized modern warfare. As president, he brought stability to the country after years of war and upheaval. Yet today Grant is remembe ...more
Paperback, 784 pages
Published April 9th 2002 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2001)
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I picked an interesting moment to read this book. Right now, all across America, people are subverting history to their own political ends. Some - I'm looking at you Rick Perry - are actually advocating succession, as though treason is some kind of joke. Others are wrapping themselves in the banner of our nation's revolutionaries, though I'm pretty sure most of them couldn't tell me the difference between the Battle of Princeton and the Battle of Brandywine Creek for all the tea in their tea par ...more
Jean Edward Smith's Grant is an impressive achievement in biography. Smith is a thorough researcher, thoughtful writer, and a first-class prose stylist. With this biography, he expanded the conventional picture of Grant, revealing him as a heroic figure who was strong, dedicated, resilient and persevering, yet also flawed. Grant was a tight-lipped stoic who seldom showed his feelings – but beneath that shell was a warm and sensitive man with artistic sensibilities, dedicated to his family, loyal ...more
Steven Peterson
I have read other biographies of U. S. Grant, but this ranks very high. The most important difference between this version and others is the more nuanced treatment of his presidency.

The book follows a pretty standard path. The guiding theme can be summarized thus (Page 15): "The biography emphasizes the continuity in Grant's life. The common thread is strength of character--an indomitable will that never flagged in the face of adversity."

The book adopts a chronological approach: It begins with h
Ulysses S. Grant may not have been a great president, but he was far better a president than I had ever before recognized, and he was unquestionably a great general, great American, and perhaps a great human being. I don't write off moral shortcomings of historical figures by claiming that "you can't hold them accountable to today's standards" - the heck we can't! We should indeed hold past leaders accountable to today's standards, just as we should have to answer to future generations. But even ...more
Jeremy Perron
All he really wanted to be was a mathematics professor. Had the life plan Ulysses S. Grant made while at West Point came true, the world would have never heard of the man who would become our eighteenth president. Moreover, the whole world would have been worse place then it is today. Grant's life is in itself a remarkable story that sparks an interest form the curious: a compassionate man who becomes one of world's most feared generals.

Smith brings to life an incredible Grant, one who is so ea

“Grant” is Jean Edward Smith’s 2001 biography of the eighteenth U.S. president. It was the 2002 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Biography. Smith taught at the University of Toronto for 35 years before joining the faculty of Marshall University where he is Professor of Political Science. The most recent of his dozen books are FDR and Eisenhower in War and Peace.

Smith’s biography is the most widely read of all the Ulysses S. Grant biographies and with goo
Engaging, it reads more like narrative history than biography. Grant was a man of strong character, modesty,formidable intellect, and rock-solid self-confidence. Although littered with typos, and the fact that many passages actually read almost verbatim like other books on Grant and the Civil War, in all I enjoyed the book.

Grant's military genius is indisputable , as is Smith's strong appreciation for it. Some of it was actually simple ( such as that instead of concentrating on the advantages he
Ulysses S. Grant has always been one of my favourite Civil War-era historical figures, along with Lincoln and Sherman. I always admired his courage and his honesty, his iron will and determination, his willingness to try unorthodox strategies, and most of all, his magnanimity to his defeated foe at Appomattox.

History has remembered him as a truly great general, a man who revolutionized modern warfare, the man who more than anyone else won the Civil War for the Union. But he also been remembered
Joanne Otto
This well researched, insightfully written biography has introduced me to a man I now consider to have been among our nation's greatest presidents. Again and again I found myself thinking, "Wow! I had no idea." Smith has done a great service for anyone interested in reading about American history in general, and specifically about the difference that a single resourceful and morally courageous individual can make in the course it takes. I highly recommend this book.
Well, I found a new chapter for Loewen's "Lies My Teacher Told Me". In school I got the standard treatment of Grant as a general and a president - the brutality, the drunkenness, the corruption, the et cetera. Smith's biography shows how far off base that treatment is. Under Grant's administration, the civil rights amendments (14 & 15) were enforced vigorously to the point of sending the Army in to put down the Ku Klux Klan and related groups, reversed longstanding policy of perpetually relo ...more
Ulysses Grant in my opinion is often one of the most misunderstood Presidents in our nations history. A failure in many business pursuits, he excelled only in military service. He was not a businessman, but was elected President because of his popularity for having won the Civil War.
Grants true passion was his family, and his reports of drinking during battles was brought on by his severe loneliness and desire to be with his family. A true testament to this man's character was the fact that w
Lewis Smith
I rarely read biographies twice, but this one is an exception. It is an enthralling tale of one of the most complex and consistently underestimated men in American history; a brilliant general, a devoted husband and father, and a tireless crusader for equality and civil rights for African-Americans at a time when such a stance was unpopular in the North and South alike. Smith not only looks at Grant's many achievements, but at his shortcomings as well, and analyzes why Grant has been consistentl ...more
Bryn Dunham
"Grant" is a wonderful biography of an amazing figure in American history. Jean Edward Smith has written a book that should appeal to everyone, not just history scholars. It is easy to read, flows well, and without a doubt paints a lucid and favorable portrait of Ulysses S. Grant. He was an amazing soldier, a respected president, and a loyal to a fault.

Liked: Besides covering his military campaigns and career, Smith expresses clearly and gives the reader a true sense of his personal character, c
Another excellent biography by Mr. Smith. His writing is so clear and fluid with just the right level of detail. At times he drills down on really interesting historical questions that other biographers gloss over. Smith also excels in his battle descriptions - giving the reader enough detail about troop formations to understand how each conflict evolved the way it did. The best examples of this are the discussions of Forts Donelson and Chattanooga.

Each phase of Grant's life is presented in a h
Czarny Pies
Aug 30, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: American history enthousiasts
Shelves: american-history
Dans cette excellente biographie, Jean Smith donne un juste portrait d'un president américain mal-aimé et souvent décrié comme étant un ivrogne. En fait, Ulsysses S. Grant a été un grand guerrier et un excellent president. De la meme manière que le Maréchal Zhubov a sauvé la Russie lors de la deuxième grande guerre mondiale, le general Grant a sauvé les Etats-Unis lors de la guerre de succession.

Les dirigéants de l'armée du Nord trouvaient toute prétexte pour ne pas d'engager l'armée du Sud. Ils
Mark Roth
This biography of Ulysses S. Grant was informative, well written, and does a thorough job of persuading the reader that Grant was an effective president as well as a successful army general.

History generally portrays Grant as a great army general but an ineffective and often drunk president whose administration was rocked by numerous scandals. However, the author effectively dispels this myth by pointing out the strength of Grant's character and how that directed him towards his goals, both as a
Jean Edward Smith's biography of Grant provides an excellent summation of his life by looking at the areas that defined him as a person. This is by no means a comprehensive biography of his generalship or presidential years but it does a thorough job of hitting all of the highlights. I will not go into excessive detail about all of the topics covered but there area few notable things to point out that Smith does well.

1. The Civil war years are covered succinctly and through the lens of how Grant
An interesting read about the man who saved the union. Smith makes several interesting arguments as to Grant's tarnished presidential legacy. He claims that Grant's presidency was slandered after Reconstruction's hasty end because "white supremacist" historians (Democrats by the way) were able to frame subsequent public opinion about the former general. Smith also points to his tendency to delegate, which worked great in war, but led to rampant corruption in his administration. Most importantly, ...more
Regina Lindsey
The very first presidential biography I read was one on Grant when I was ten years old.

While historically ranked near the bottom in lists of effective presidents, Grant was the only man re-elected between Lincoln and Wilson. He even came close to being nominated for a third term. What is most surprising is that the presidency was Grant's first forray in elected office.

Smith provides a good, readable overview of Grant. However, he falls into the easiest trap for a biography. I can appreicate ad
Tom Wilda
Prior to reading Grant, when I thought of President Grant I thought of him as one of the worst presidents, one tainted by scandal. But this book puts him in a different light. I found it very interesting. I particularly enjoyed reading about his days in the army, the Mexican War and the Civil War. He was a dismal failure in most things he tried as a civilian, but is presented as a brilliant success as a soldier and politician. Some later chapters that deal with specific policy decisions are a li ...more
Jessica (booneybear)
An excellent and very comprehensive biography on Ulysses S. Grant, who by the way ins't really Ulysses S. Grant but Hiram Ulysses Grant. I was completely surprised to find out the Mr. Grant was only 5' 7" tall and 135 lbs. He was this larger than life guy, but was little in stature.

This book covers everything from Grants meger beginnings, his time as a cadet at West Point and his hard times before the Civil War. Grant became the first ever four star general in the History of the United States a
I went into this book not knowing very much about Grant other than he was the winning General from the Civil War and that he later became President. After reading this biography, I now feel like I lived during his lifetime. What an exceptional man! He served as President after Andrew Johnson (who barely escaped being impeached) and he helped build the country back up as a united union. He was compassionate, fair, loyal and trustworthy--something we long for in our leaders today. I was touched by ...more
Abraham Lincoln was the President the nation needed at its darkest hour, the beginning of the Civil War and Grant was the general that Lincoln needed to win that war. Smith covers Grant's leadership, first in the west then as general of the army and defacto commander of the Army of the Potomac with detailed descriptions of both the strategy and the tactics that won the war for the North. He is particularly good on Grant's relationship with his subordinates--Grant was a very "hand's off" commande ...more
By reading this biography of Ulysses S. Grant, I believe people will learn new things about America, the Civil War, Reconstruction and the Grant Presidency, all of which I found interesting.

The book has 3 main parts. The first focuses on the American Civil War. In this section, Grant presented as a somewhat lucky general (at least at first) who won the war because he was more willing to sacrifice his own troops for the greater good than his Union predecessors. In addition, he seemed to be the fi
Josh Liller
An excellent biography of Ulysses Grant. It's something of an apologist biography, but does a good job of it.

Just a few months ago I read another apologist biography (Kozak's "Lemay") which was terrible, attempting to whitewash a controversial character into someone of essentially no flaws or mistakes. Smith's "Grant" avoids that trap, admitting Grant's flaws: honest to a fault, loyal to a fault, keeping his own council too often, confident in himself and his plans to the point of dangerously ig
Rylan Delong
I liked this book because i really learned alot about Grant, and how important he was in the civil war, but the thing i didnt like about the book is how the focused alot of the book on different battles instead of focusing more on his life and how he became general in the war. Other than that, i enjoyed the book, because it wasnt like i was just learning more about some old historic guy, but i felt like i was in his perspective in some of the battles because it is really discriptive.
Frederick Pauer
An absolutely astonishing and riveting biography,

I learned so much about this remarkable man from this book. Being a retired Army soldier it's easy to understand leadership and I can truly appreciate his genius at so many levels. The author also brought his human abilities and failing in focus and made the read, hard to put down. I thank him for made this such a worthwhile book to read and will recommend it to my old service buddies.
Janine Urban
A vast majority of this book is devoted to Grant's military life/history and the Civil War. So if you are looking for more information about his presidency, this may not be the choice. As it doesn't start until the mid to late 400s and the book is 628 pages. I was surprised at how trusting Grant was of others, especially given his attitude during the war; late in life he was caught up in an investment scam that left him bankrupt. He exemplifies someone rising from humble means (on more than one ...more
This highly-readable tome is a fine biography for a man many recognize as a great general but a less-than-spectacular president. Smith disagrees with this notion and while he does not excuse all of Grant's flaws, he does play up some of the greater accomplishments of Grant's presidency, such as his (at the time) highly progressive attitudes towards Indians and his foreign relations work. Smith presents Grant as a quiet, humble man who always played his cards close to his vest, was bad with his o ...more
Grant is one of my heroes. Historically, Grant has been a last place finisher in presidential ranking contests. I think he is getting a well-deserved upgrade in the eyes of history, thanks in part to historians like Smith. Smith makes a compelling argument that the early history on Grant was written by anti-Reconstructionists. Of all our presidents, Grant is second to none in demonstrating commitment to equal protection under the law. Unfortunately, for the Africans in America they suffered degr ...more
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Currently he is the John Marshall Professor of Political Science at Marshall University and professor emeritus at the University of Toronto after having served as professor of political economy there for thirty-five years. Smith also currently serves as professor of history and government at Ashland University.

A graduate of McKinley High School in Washington, D.C., Smith received an A.B. from Prin
More about Jean Edward Smith...
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