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Meet General Grant by W. E. Woodward

Meet General Grant (1928)

by W. E. Woodward

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This biography of Grant extends into a history of his times. The writing is informed, elegant, readable, and interesting. And very quotable: "Certainly no man can be a Christian and a soldier at the same time, for the two ideas are wholly incompatible."

Unfortunately, it is marred by racism. The author claims that slavery harmed the Southern white man more than the slave! That it "civilized" the slave "in a shorter time than any savage race was ever civilized before." He says that slavery would not have worked in Kansas because slaves "lacked the intelligence to grow wheat successfully." He claims that blacks "became free without any effort of their own." His pro-Southern bias is evident when he says, "The South confronted the North with the insolence of poetry defying prose."

In his assessment of General Grant, the author tries to be fair but falls short. He praises him for his honesty and his tenacity in battle, while insulting his intelligence. "There were extensive portions of his mentality which appear to have been dormant all his life." He states that Grant was a pacifist who lacked the initiative to abandon his military career. "My opinion is that his mind was that of a mechanic or engineer, rather than that of a soldier." Woodward has little regard for other Union brass. General Halleck, for example, was "a large emptiness surrounded by an education."

This book does not rise far enough above nineteenth century racism, but it does otherwise give a good account of Grant's life and times. ( )
  pjsullivan | Aug 28, 2011 |
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