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Personal Memoirs

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  3,208 Ratings  ·  326 Reviews
"One of the most unflinching studies of war in our literature."  --William McFeeley


Among the autobiographies of great military figures, Ulysses S. Grant's is certainly one of the finest, and it is arguably the most notable literary achievement of any American president: a lucid, compelling, and brutally honest chronicle of triumph and failure. From his frontier boyhood to
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Paperback, 736 pages
Published May 4th 1999 by Modern Library (first published 1885)
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Eric
There is one West Pointer, I think in Missouri, little known, and whom I hope the Northern people will not find out. I mean Sam Grant. I knew him well at the Academy and in Mexico. I should fear him more than any of their officers I have yet heard of. (Rebel Gen. Ewell, May 1861)


Grant’s Personal Memoirs (1885) define understatement but not modesty. Grant shows rather than tells what a badass he is. In recounting the war, Grant rarely quotes himself or relates his conversation but to a drop some
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Ted
Mar 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The cause of the great War of the Rebellion against the United States will have to be attributed to slavery… It is probably well that we had the war when we did… our republican institutions were regarded [by the nations of Europe] as experiments … and monarchical Europe generally believed that our republic was a rope of sand that would part the moment the slightest strain was brought upon it. Now it has shown itself capable of dealing with one of the greatest wars that was ever made…



President Gr
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Jan-Maat
I read this because of a review. The reviewer wrote that they had read this book to their Father while in was in hospital. The image of that situation struck me. What with one thing and another it was the kind of thing I could imagine doing myself.

The use of language is very direct and precise, there's a clear sense of narrative direction. The earliest recollection of his West Point years and service during the Mexico War link into the Civil War story. It was of course written partly in reaction
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Justin
Dec 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Twain famously compared Grant's Personal Memoirs to Caesar's De Bello Gallico, to stress not only the quality of the work, but more importantly to increase book sales. The comparison makes sense superficially: both memoirs were written by the leading generals of the day in a concise economy of style; both men were instrumental in cementing their respective nations' transformation from republic to Empire; and the works of both men were celebrated by the foremost men of letters of the day (Cicero' ...more
GoldGato
Mar 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, autumn, war, memoir
Stunning. I thought Julius Caesar and Winston Churchill could write of war and leadership but Grant's memoirs blew me away. Written while he was dying in an effort to provide future funds for his family, the great American Civil War general created a classic review of his life in a style that reminded me of an old John Ford western. Stoic, efficient, self-effacing. My image of him changed, as I knew only of his victory in war and failure in politics.

They say that managers do the thing right, wh
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Clif Hostetler
Jun 29, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Within the genre of memoirs, I've always had the impression that this book stands out as a historically significant example. Mark Twain even maintained that it should be considered equal in profoundness to Julius Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico, (Commentaries on the Gallic Wars.) In the late 19th century Grant's memoir was a leading best seller.

As a child I remember seeing this tome perched on a prominent high shelf in the local rural town library and wondering to myself if anybody ever r
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Caroline
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, history
This is often mentioned as one of the two great military memoirs, along with Caesar’s Gallic Wars, and I can see why. The two authors combine the same crystal clear description of events, the masterful strategy, the commentary on the events that put them in the field, and the perceptive evaluation of the characters of their own warriors and the leaders of the enemy. And, as in Caesar’s later Civil War commentary, they both have experience fighting men they once served with. But in Grant’s case h ...more
Rob
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Civil War geeks.
An interesting book that is well written but not a personal memoir in the modern sense. This is not a tell all, voyeuristic baring of the soul. Grant is a 19th Century American. I have to admit to liking the 19th Century Americans. They were down to earth blistering realistic people. He assumed that his potential readers were more interested in why he was famous. He was not famous for being famous. He was famous for prosecuting the war to a successful conclusion for the Union. What he thought ab ...more
William S.
May 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is often called the finest presidential memoir. It doesn't, however, deal with the Grant presidency at all. Instead, it is his recollection of Civil War events, written in a race of time against his approaching death from throat cancer. With that focus, the book is magnificent - and a surprise. The strategic thinking about his famous battles is clear and comprehensible. Having read many books about the Civil War, I found myself shaking my head many times and noting "so that's how - and ...more
Daniel
Dec 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History Buffs and lovers of Biographies
One of the greatest books I have read, it holds a surprising literary quality that few biographies hold. He puts you in the battlefield, and his vivid memory added by his brilliant expression, brings you back to the 1860's. READ IT!
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Ulysses Simpson Grant (born Hiram Ulysses Grant) was general-in-chief of the Union Army from 1864 to 1869 during the American Civil War and the 18th President of the United States from 1869 to 1877.

The son of an Appalachian Ohio tanner, Grant entered the United States Military Academy at age 17. In 1846, three years after graduating, Grant served as a lieutenant in the Mexican–American War under W
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More about Ulysses S. Grant...
“But my later experience has taught me two lessons: first, that things are seen plainer after the events have occurred; second, that the most confident critics are generally those who know the least about the matter criticised.” 19 likes
“There are many men who would have done better than I did under the circumstances in which I found myself. If I had never held command, if I had fallen, there were 10,000 behind who would have followed the contest to the end and never surrendered the Union.” 8 likes
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