Josh Liller's Reviews > Grant

Grant by Jean Edward Smith
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's review
May 11, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: biography, politics, military, civil-war

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

May 11, 2010 – Shelved
August 25, 2010 – Shelved as: biography
November 20, 2010 – Shelved as: politics
November 20, 2010 – Shelved as: military
February 2, 2011 – Started Reading
February 2, 2011 – Shelved as: civil-war
February 2, 2011 –
page 59
7.53% "So far so good."
February 11, 2011 –
page 365
March 10, 2011 – Finished Reading

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