Josh Liller's Reviews > Grant

Grant by Jean Edward Smith
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's review
Mar 11, 11

really liked it
bookshelves: biography, politics, military, civil-war
Read from February 02 to March 10, 2011

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 ignoring possible actions of his opponents.

Smith counters much of the criticism of Grant's military and political career and points to successes and popularity, which included his near nomination for a 3rd presidential term in both 1876 and 1880.

Smith does use alot of footnotes. I've seen worse overuse of footnotes, but I think he still uses far too many. The chapters on Grant's presidency also seem organized more by topic than chronologically which gets a little confusing at times. And while much common criticism of Grant is dealt with at appropriate points in the book, a final chapter about Grant's legacy and the decline of his popularity in the 1900s would have been a good thing.

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Reading Progress

02/02/2011 page 59
8.0% "So far so good."
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