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4.55  ·  Rating details ·  12,135 ratings  ·  1,958 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
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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…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)

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4.55  · 
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 ·  12,135 ratings  ·  1,958 reviews

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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
Dec 03, 2017 added it
Shelves: civil-war, presidents
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
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). G
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 poi
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
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
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
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
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
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 a
Melania 🍒
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
Scott  Hitchcock
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, nonfiction

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
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
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
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is, in my opinion, better than Chernow's Hamilton, and it has transformed my understanding of Grant.

Grant's strategy in the destruction of the South's armies was head and shoulders above every other Union general's approach to defeating the Confederacy, and his self-effacing manner, combined with a decisiveness and coolness under fire rarely equaled in the history of American generalship, made him the immovable object that ended Lee's hopes for success. The book goes far to dispel the
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.
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
Sean Chick
Nov 20, 2017 rated it did not like it
The deification of Ulysses S. Grant has now reached apotheosis. For decades readers have been treated to sympathetic portrayals of Grant. Although popular enough books, the kind of work that can inspire a heavily biased but well composed musical is at long last here. In the war to make Grant great again, this is Appomattox the sequel.

I will give Chernow some credit. He is a solid writer, if a bit too detailed at times. Unlike the other Grant apologists he does not sweep his drinking under the ru
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is quite a biography. When I was young they taught me Grant's role, especially in his Presidency years, to be significantly less important than I believe it was. And to completely over blow his alcoholism as "practiced". But regardless of my former nuance of detail considering Grant or how he has been taught, this book made him come alive. It holds depth of his times too, to an incredible degree.

He seemed to be the very best of the best that is human when under extreme and completely "prese
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
At over 1074 pages, the book reads like a dream and was sad to see the book end. Grant is portrayed with all his triumphs and faults and like Robert Caro's LBJ bios-you actually feel like you know Grant and could converse with him about the Civil War, his Presidency and his family.

A true masterpiece for any history buff and can not give this a higher recommendation.
Feb 20, 2018 rated it liked it
My favorite part of the book was Chernow’s chronicle of Grant’s rise to fame and greatness in the Civil War. He was a man of action and cool under fire. Rather than delay to wait for reinforcements from Washington, Grant preferred to attack. Lincoln really admired Grant for this quality. Too many GAR General Officers had reasons why they could not do something but not Grant.

Grant figured out in one of his first engagements that the enemy feared him as much as he feared them. From that moment on,
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: listened-to
Ron Chernow's "Grant" is exactly the kind of masterpiece I've come to expect from one of the world's preeminent historians. President Grant has been one of my favorite presidents ever since I read "The Man who Saved the Union." Chernow's account has less hero worship than that account but I suspect we get a much more accurate reading of who Grant really was: A functional alcoholic who was an amazing leader in war and peace who's achilles heel was his naive sense of trust. Because he felt like an ...more
Sep 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-biography
Two thousand seventeen was a difficult year in many ways, and I chose to make it even more difficult by reading not one but two brick-like biographies of Grant: this one, and American Ulysses by Ronald White, both of which were supplied free of charge via those generous people at NetGalley. As fascinating as Grant is, this is not a life choice I can recommend to others in good conscience.

Chernow is a rock star of Presidential historians, largely on the reflected glory he received when his biog
Craig Pearson
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Thank you to Netgalley for this book. This is the perfect adjunct to Grant's autobiography 'Memoirs'. The details and background that Chernow gives to fill out missing details in Grant's life is amazing. Chernow does give heavy emphasis to Grant's perceived or actual alcoholism. The author does use every possible word in the English language so be prepared with a dictionary while reading. As an example, he used the word 'adumbrating' which I at first thought was totally made up. It means 'foresh ...more
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Alexander Hamilton is a hard act to follow, but Chernow lives up to the expectations. Meticulously researched, the book is overflowing with details, insight, and analysis. This is backed up with extensive source notes. It took me almost three months to finish reading the biography: it's a book to be savored, not devoured. I've come away with a newfound respect for Ulysses, and highly recommend it.

This book was generally provided by NetGalley.
11811 (Eleven)
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Chernow is my favorite biographer. I’ll read anything he writes. The subject is irrelevant.
Donna Davis
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: those with a lot of prior knowledge.
Tempted to add this title to my Southern fiction shelf. For a Pulitzer winner to be so careless with his facts is egregious. I got 200 pages or so in, and I found a glaring error. To be honest, I thought maybe it was me. I haven't taught the American Civil War in 8 years now; am I slipping? Because I could swear that the famous tidbit about a single battle killing more soldiers than the American Revolution, War of 1812, and war with Mexico all added together was about the battle of Antietam, yet ...more
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 w
Bryan Craig
When this book came out, I noticed some scholars complained that Chernow said nothing new about Grant. Historians have been revising Grant's image as president for a couple of decades.

This is true, and the book is not perfect. If you know a lot about Grant, then Chernow doesn't bring a lot of new material to the table. However, what Chernow does do is bring a majestic biography that provides solid scholarship that reflects revisionism in Grant's presidency and the ability to reach mass audiences
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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
“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.” 5 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
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