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Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph Over Adversity, 1822-1865

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  116 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Washington, Lincoln, Grant--these were once the triumvirate of American nationalism. But, like his tomb on the Hudson, Grant's reputation has fallen into disrepair. The image many Americans hold of him is a caricature: someone "uniquely stupid," an insensitive butcher as a general, an incompetent mediocrity as president, and a drunk. Several efforts to counter this ...more
Hardcover, 560 pages
Published February 21st 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Sean Chick
Apr 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
The book that nuanced the current wave of Grant hagiography. Compared to the rest it is the best of the breed in terms of research and analysis.
Marilyn Jess
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Masterful biography of US Grant, arguably, along with Abraham Lincoln, the best known American of the 19th century. Grant was certainly the hero of the American Civil War, as far as the world was concerned. There are two aspects of his generalship, up to 1865, which this book covers, that I will comment upon.

Author and historian Brooks D. Simpson writes as clearly as Grant does (have read Grant's best selling memoirs so I know this), and explains two periods of the Civil War I had never
Gregory Jones
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ulysses S. Grant is an iconic man of US History, so it is a monumental task to take on such a figure with a biography. Brooks Simpson offers a wonderful contribution to the overall canon on Grant's life. The book, justifiably, focuses on Grant's life as a general more than his life away from leadership, although there are details on that as well. The meat of the argument, from my reading, was that Grant's remarkable simplicity allowed him to accel in ways that other generals could not. In some ...more
May 06, 2013 rated it really liked it

Brooks Simpsons Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph Over Adversity, 1822-1865 was published in 2000 and is the first of two expected volumes on Grants life. Simpson is a historian and professor at Arizona State University. He has written a half-dozen books and is a noted authority on the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Because a second volume is (or at least once was) anticipated, this book does not cover Grants presidency or the drafting of his memoirs in the last
Josh Liller
Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Triumph Over Adversity" is the first half of a planned two-part biography of U.S. Grant by Brooks Simpson, covering his life through the end of the American Civil War. Only 78 pages (about 1/6th of the book) cover events up to the Civil War. Nearly 400 pages cover Grant during the war.

Grant is a strangely controversial figure: variously demonized as a butcher, belittled as a naive fool, gossiped about as a drunk, overly lauded at times by modern apologists. Simpson provides a refreshingly
Donna Davis
Everyone needs heroes, and Grant has long been one of mine. This outstanding biography by Brooks D. Simpson is engrossing, and Simpsons storytelling is well documented. I read several books at a go, but I found myself turning to this one oftener than my others. It is well organized and provides a balanced, meticulously researched look at Grants life through the end of the American Civil War. (Another volume that will deal with his presidency through the end of his life is planned, and I look ...more
Dennis Phillips
Sep 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: civil-war
Simpson has given us a very clear portrait of General Grant. The reader will see both Grant's weaknesses and his strengths. Most clearly one begins to see a man whose greatest asset was his self-confidence. This was a man who had faith in his own judgment but was more than willing to make changes in his plans as events he couldn't control came into play. He was probably not a greater tactician than many other Civil War generals were, but he made things happen. For example, General Rosecrans had ...more
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you are looking for one Grant biography to put on your shelves, make it this one. Simpson tells Grant's story in a lucid, meaningful way. I actually think I may reread this over the summer. Well written and thoroughly approachable.
Kendrick Hughes
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
excellent book on Grant, very good read
Sep 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
So what do you think you know about President Grant? Let me guess: Because your history teacher said so way back in the day, youre pretty sure he was a total slosh drunk. Who somehow drunkenly fumbled and stumbled his way to civil war success. No one says these days that Grant was a complete abstainer where alcohol is concerned, but more and more 21st-century civil war scholars are becoming convinced that many of the stories in which Grant is characterized as a complete booze hound significantly ...more
Aug 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
A readable and well-researched if narrowly focused and workmanlike biography of Grant, Simpson captures Grants complexity,and how Grant came from a store clerk in 1861 to lieutenant general and commander of the Union army. Although Grant comes off as dutiful to the point of passionless boredom in many works, Simpson fleshes out the many human sides to Grant, such as his relentless tenacity. Obviously, the bulk of the book deals with Grants military career, and Simpson has an easy command of the ...more
Donny Casey
Dec 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph over Adversity 1822-1865 lets the reader experience the Civil war through the eye of one of America's greatest leaders. This biography is the first of two in the set, and covers Grants life up until his presidency. The novel is writing in a way that engages the reader from the very beginning and in a way that seems like fiction rather than non fiction. Since the novel is written in this way I often found it hard to put the book down. The first thing you'll notice if you ...more
Oct 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
A great character study of a man who was never the best or brightest in his class or truly successful in any endeavor in which he engaged until presented with the greatest challenge of his life, one at which all of his supposed betters had proven themselves abject failures, and brilliantly did what no one else had been able to do: use the great might of the Union to mercilessly crush the Southern rebellion once and for all. I came away with much more respect for Grant. Recommended. (Note that ...more
Jan 14, 2016 rated it liked it
It was a long read but worth it. If it wasn't family, father, it was the personalities of the generals that he had to contend with.........most men would have packed it in but there was something in his soul that had the strength to continue.

I need to follow up with a book on his time as president which by all accounts was a bloody nightmare
Sep 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
An insightful, detailed, and well written account of one of the most enigmatic figures in 19th century America. The book provides a rich description of the battles and campaigns Grant served in or led, but never let's purely military matters detract what is essentially a human story.
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Brooks Donohue Simpson is an historian who is the ASU Foundation Professor of History at Arizona State University, specializing in studies of the American Civil War.

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