Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Grant” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.43  ·  Rating details ·  25,793 ratings  ·  3,101 reviews
Ulysses S. Grant's life has typically been misunderstood. All too often he is caricatured as a chronic loser and inept businessman, fond of drinking to excess; or as the triumphant but brutal Union general of the Civil War; or as a credulous and hapless president whose tenure came to symbolize the worst excesses of the Gilded Age. These stereotypes don't come close to capt ...more
Hardcover, 1074 pages
Published October 10th 2017 by Penguin Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Grant, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Joseph Rose If you closely read Ron White (and I admit to only having read portions of his work), you'll see that his depth of knowledge isn't that great and that…moreIf you closely read Ron White (and I admit to only having read portions of his work), you'll see that his depth of knowledge isn't that great and that he accepts all-too-willingly the glowing falsehoods of Grant's Memoirs and the earlier biographers. Especially in writing of Grant's military career, White makes unforced errors that show a lack of foundation.(less)
Emily Fuger Scores of people get advanced copies of books. I have a friend who's a top user of Goodreads, so because of that he's been sent advanced copies of boo…moreScores of people get advanced copies of books. I have a friend who's a top user of Goodreads, so because of that he's been sent advanced copies of books to read and review. Publishers want there to be a conversation starting about their book before the general population can buy it so they plenty comes up when they google it.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.43  · 
Rating details
 ·  25,793 ratings  ·  3,101 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Grant
“A man too broad for prejudice, too humane to despise the humblest, too great to be small at any point. In him the Negro found a protector, the Indian a friend, a vanquished foe a brother, an imperiled nation a savior.”
- Frederick Douglass on Ulysses S. Grant

This is the apotheosis of the Grantaissance.

For decades after his death, the reputation of Ulysses S. Grant – General of the United States Armies, two-term President of the United States, one of the most influential figures of his or any ot
Dec 03, 2017 added it
Shelves: presidents, civil-war
A mere ten years ago this would have been my Book of the Year. But I’m a different reader now. Not necessarily a better or smarter reader, just different. So I pause when I read a sentence like: As ever, his whole physiology sprang into action. Where is the editor to ask: Ron, do you really mean his whole physiology? Because that would be all the functions of a living organism, which is, you know, a whole lot of physiology. And, Ron, as ever? Do you really mean every single time? And, Ron, I’m g ...more
This book requires a serious time commitment. Grant lived 132 years ago, not so long in the course of things. Much had been written about him at the time, and much after. He himself wrote memoirs that are highly regarded and that showed his intelligence and shrewdness. His mother-in-law Dent, Julia’s mother, noticed that although he had failings (alcohol) and could sometimes get off-track career-wise (an inability to make money as an independent entrepreneur), he had a fine political mind. That ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
Ron Chernow's epic Grant is a masterful piece of scholarship which succeeds in bringing this much-maligned and misunderstood President into focus and making him indomitable (on the battlefield), incorruptible (with respect to rights for African Americans), and naïvely gullible.

Ulysses S Grant is truly a rags to riches story (or more accurately rags to potential to rags to riches to rags to equilibrium to death) which covers his childhood and first bankruptcy, his generalship during the Civil Wa
Diane S ☔
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lor-2019, 5000-2019
I've finished admidst an outpouring of tears. If only we could have cloned this man.
At 1074 pages this is one of the longest audio books, or for that matter a physical book that I finished. Plus, I could have continued reading more, so I think that is quite a testimony. I'm not going to attempt to explain this book or this man, one needs to experience that for themselves. So I'll just say that in my junior year of Highschool history class I learned little and what I remember is that he drank alo
Jun 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
By the end of Grant’s second term, white Democrats, through the “redeemer” movement, had reclaimed control of every southern state, winning in peacetime much of the power lost combat. They promulgated a view of the Civil War as a righteous cause that had nothing to do with slavery but only states’ rights—to which an incredulous James Longstreet once replied, “I never heard of any other cause of the quarrel than slavery.”

No myth-making here, just beautifully researched history. There’s no wa
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"When did [Grant] ever turn back? He was not that sort; he could no more turn back than time!"
- Walt Whitman, quoted in Ron Chernow, Grant


Ron Chernow delights in writing about complicated American Icons and money men. It might seem odd that Chernow would chose Grant after writing about Washinton, Hamilton, John D. Rockefeller, the Morgans and the Warburgs, but Chernow also loves rehabilitative writing. Just look at what his biography of Hamilton did (helped out mightily by Lin-Manuel Miranda).
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"he was nothing heroic....and yet the greatest hero."
Walt Whitman of Ulysses S. Grant

A blue ribbon historical biography by Ron Chernow, who is one of the only historical biographers in recent years to gain some public notoriety, from his Alexander Hamilton serving as the basis and inspiration for the still-SRO "Hamilton" on Broadway.

We read biographies, it seems to me, to remind us that the individual can matter and to learn what came to make the individuals who have mattered most. On both p
This is an exceptionally good book. It is well researched. It is comprehensive and thorough. It is so comprehensive and so thorough that one needs to take a break from it now and then. What this means perhaps, in reality though, is that the author should have in some parts lightened the tone, related a humorous incident or switched to a less ponderous topic, a topic easier to absorb, just for a while, to give the reader a bit of a break. Reading this book is a commitment and it is best to know t ...more
This is an excellent biography which I recommend to those who enjoy that genre or history in general or American history specifically. While focused on Grant as it should be, this book also provides needed background on the state of the United States when Grant was a child and as he grew, as these changes in turn affected Grant's life and decisions.

Truly an excellent biography, covering childhood through to burial, Grant's struggles to find a place in the world before the coming of the Civil War
I was born and raised in the southern part of the United States. The name U.S. Grant was spoken with disdain, whether it was in a familial conversation, at a historical site, or in a history class in high school or at university. Two Northern Generals, Grant and Sherman, have been firmly engrained in the minds of young southern minds as the worst two people who ever walked on American soil. You can imagine how excited I was, then, to receive this book - Grant - to read for review. What more did ...more
Steven Z.
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recently Ron Chernow was asked on the CBS morning news program if his new biography, GRANT could become a Broadway musical as his previous book HAMILTON had. His response was clearly no, but he left open the possibility of a movie. Whatever the case, Chernow has written the most comprehensive biography of the man credited with changing the course of, and winning the Civil War, then went on to support Lincoln’s reconstruction program, and assumed the presidency. The book is quite long, to the poi ...more
Christopher Saunders
Rehabilitating Ulysses Grant has become a cottage industry among biographers: in the past sixteen years alone, we've seen formidable studies by Jean Edward Smith, H.W. Brands, Brooks Simpson and Ronald C. White showing us that Grant, far from the drunken butcher-general and terrible president caricatured throughout the years, was a shrewd military leader and a well-intentioned, if not always effective Chief Executive. Ron Chernow's latest book covers little new ground, but a solid biography by a ...more
Laura Noggle
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Best biography I’ve read in my life.

"The Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant, widely viewed as a masterpiece, is probably the foremost military memoir in the English language, written in a clear, supple style that transcends the torment of its composition. Grant recognized the implausible course of his life, beginning his preface with the humble words 'Man proposes and God disposes.' He focused on his childhood, West Point, the Mexican War, and the Civil War, omitting his marriage, family life, presi
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Time to fairly reconsider Grant’s successes and failures

As a former history teacher, I had little esteem for Ulysses S. Grant’s presidency. With Ron Chernow’s newest biography of the 18th US President, I have reassessed my view of Grant, and admit, I was wrong. Traditionally Grant is remembered as the most important Union general who brought a decisive end to the Civil War, whose fame propelled him to a presidency that is remembered for corruption of many of his officials even though Grant wasn’
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, politics
A riveting, very well researched reappraisal of a man previously under appreciated by other biographers. The third biography of Grant I've read. Chernow's stands well above the rest for a sympathetic masterful appraisal of a complicated personality who in one turn is so many things: honest to a fault, a master battle strategist, an insightful critic of human nature and simultaneously fantastically gullible, a man who did his best to keep the Union whole and protect other races, a wonderful fathe ...more
I have read a number of biographies of both Ulysses Grant and his wife, Julia. Chernow’s is by far the most detailed and documented. I have always enjoyed Chernow’s biographies even if they are very long. Chernow always presents a rich sensitive portrait of his topic, in this case, Ulysses S. Grant.

The book is well written and meticulously researched. I was impressed how thoroughly he investigated the claims of Grant’s alcoholism. He pointed out what might have been true or false claims of his p
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like Twain, Walt Whitman was mesmerized by Grant and grouped him with George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the quartet of greatest Americans. “In all Homer and Shakespeare there is no fortune or personality really more picturesque or rapidly changing, more full of heroism, pathos, contrast,” he wrote...

Dismissed as a philistine, a boor, a drunk, and an incompetent, Grant has been subjected to pernicious stereotypes that grossly impede our understanding of the man. As
Dec 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

I was torn between 4 stars or 5 stars for this outstanding biography and decided to split the difference giving it 4.5 stars. The only demerits being that at times when it delved into politics I found it a little dry but that is probably me and has nothing to do with the authors writing talent. I read one other book by Ron Chernow, that being Alexander Hamilton. The research that went into this narrative is outstanding and the author's writing style is such that you feel as though you k
Mary J Starry
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book. Gave me a whole new perspective on both Grant's role during the Civil War and during his presidency. Helped me realize just how biased a view I learned about Reconstruction during my high school history classes. Never realized how much an impact Grant had on the passing of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments and civil rights laws. ...more
#2 Best Book I Read During 2020

A fascinating book, and this is the best of the three "people on the money" biographies Ron Chernow has written. As always, Chernow doesn't write a cradle to grave biography so much as use Grant as a lens to view a slice of American history.

All of it was great, but the section on the Civil War was brilliant and impossible to put down. When it comes to wars I generally enjoy the political side more than the battle side, but Chernow writes about battles in a way that
Chaunceton Bird
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This biography is as excellent as it is massive. Pulitzer Prize winning Ron Chernow presents one of the world's greatest citizens, Ulysses S. Grant, in stunning detail and eloquence. From his early days as a scrappy lower-class child, to his mid-life drunkery and business failures, to his triumphant victories in the civil war and presidency, Chernow covers it all. ...more
Melania 🍒
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I looooove biiiig books and I really like Grant (apparently) and I admire Chernow’s writing style and yeah... I loved pretty much everything about this 😊
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
With Grant, Mr. Chernow has once again delivered a masterpiece of biography. He looks a U.S. Grants life from the very beginning through to his completion of probably the best memoir of the Civil War ever written. The research is impeccable and the writing is so much better than your average biography that it is not fair to compare.

In looking at Grant's life, the author in my opinion looks at two main themes that seemed present throughout. One is his inability to handle alcohol and the other is
I had a little private celebration today as I finished this extraordinary book. I gave myself the afternoon off from Saturday chores and errands to sit down and read the final chapter, "Taps". It took me 3 months to finish this biography with frequent breaks to read other "lite" fare. The number of pages on the Goodreads description says 1073 but if the notes, bibliography & index are subtracted it's only 965 pages.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading. I had heard U.S. Grant was a
Scott  Hitchcock
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, history

Simply a masterful piece of history. I cannot imagine the countless hours put into the research of this book gathering perspective from every viewpoint possible. As with most things in life the thing that made it terrific is also the one criticism. Chernow gives us a perspective on why Grant failed at different junctures. It isn't that he was stupid or incompetent as many would portray him. It was that he trusted too freely.

In many I can see the author's point but I think he's fallen in l
Michael Austin
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2017
The sheer popularity of Ron Chernow, now known as the source of the most popular musical in the history of ever, ensures that both his new biography and its subject are going to be taken seriously in national conversation. The re-evaluation of Grant and Reconstruction that Chernow offers has been in progress for several decades among historians and experts. But Chernow is (quite literally now) a rock star--and that matters. Ulysses S. Grant deserves to be taken far more seriously as a president ...more
Peter Beck
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lincoln, presidents
Now that I have finished both “Washington” and “Grant,” I am ALMOST ready to declare Ron Chernow America’s greatest presidential biographer (I haven’t ready any Caro or Millard yet). If “Truman” was a slight letdown after “Adams,” “Grant” is the opposite. I skimmed Washington’s agrarian exploits while I devoured every sentence of “Grant,” even though it is 130 pages longer.

Chernow not only brings Grant and the fascinating people around him to life, but also provides superb accounts of the U.S.
Jun 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Ron Chernow’s “Grant” was published in 2017 to almost immediate acclaim and was named a Top 10 Book of the Year by The New York Times. Chernow is bestselling the author of “Alexander Hamilton,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Washington: A Life” and award-winning biographies of John D. Rockefeller and the J.P. Morgan and Warburg dynasties.

With a narrative spanning 959 pages (not counting the extensive bibliography or 4,500 end notes), this biography of Ulysses
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Classic Chernow—it’s beautiful and complex and makes dull things riveting. I feel like I understand the man and the time better, but it’s also classic Chernow in that he glosses over some really crucial economic issues. How can you write about Hamilton without going into the logic of banking and how central that was? Here too, he glosses over the gold standard debate, which was one of the most central
Issues of the time—almost every election after Grant hinged on it until the depression. Grant wa
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Best Current Historian/Biographer 2 42 Sep 27, 2018 09:06AM  
Wait for this or read American Ulysses? 1 52 Jul 26, 2017 10:48AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House
  • Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power
  • Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life, and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt
  • Truman
  • Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
  • Lincoln
  • The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism
  • The Wright Brothers
  • His Excellency: George Washington
  • Rutherford B. Hayes
  • John Adams
  • The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt
  • Theodore Rex
  • William Tecumseh Sherman: In the Service of My Country: A Life
  • 1776
  • Rutherford B. Hayes: Warrior and President
  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West
See similar books…
Ron Chernow was born in 1949 in Brooklyn, New York. After graduating with honors from Yale College and Cambridge University with degrees in English Literature, he began a prolific career as a freelance journalist. Between 1973 and 1982, Chernow published over sixty articles in national publications, including numerous cover stories. In the mid-80s Chernow went to work at the Twentieth Century Fund ...more

Articles featuring this book

Neal Stephenson is the bestselling author of the novels Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon, Seveneves, Reamde, Anathem, The System of...
33 likes · 7 comments
“Four Millions of people heretofore declared by the highest tribunal in the land, not citizens of the United States, nor eligible to become so, voters in every part of the land, the right not to be abridged by any state, is indeed a measure of grander importance than any other one act of the kind from the foundation of our free government to the present day . . . The adoption of the 15th Amendment . . . constitutes the most important event that has occurred, since the nation came into life.” It was a stunning statement of Grant’s faith in the new black electorate. He further urged Congress to promote popular education so that “all who possess and exercise political rights, shall have the opportunity to acquire the knowledge which will make their share in the government a blessing.” 6 likes
“In mid-May, he dictated a message for a reunion of the Grand Army of the Republic that had a touching, patriarchal tone: “Tell the boys that they probably will never look into my face again, nor hear my voice, but they are engraved on my heart, and I love them as my children.” 3 likes
More quotes…