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U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth by…

U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth (2009)

by Joan Waugh

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Very good overview of Grant's life and career as well as a very good review of how Grant's reputation has changed over the years Professor Waugh does a really good job showing how unbelievably popular Grant was in his time.

After his death southern historians did a very good job planting doubts about Grant's accomplishments into mainstream thought. Recently however Grant's reputation has been on the upswing - and deservedly so. This book is a continuation of that trend ( )
  mybucketlistofbooks | Jan 10, 2015 |
I'm not going into a full review of this book basically because the three parts - his life, his reputation, and his effect on history was IMO, though well-written, lacking in enough details to make a full review worthwhile.

What this book did document was the successful way that Grant directed the entire Union forces after taking charge in 1864. It seems that so many believe that Grant was an unfeeling man because of the vast numbers of soldiers that were killed in the battles nearing the end of the war, but his own words show how he felt the necessity of being victorious. "we all felt, even those who did not object to slavery, that it was a stain on the Union that men should be bought and sold like cattle...We were fighting an enemy with whom we could not make peace. We had to destroy him. No convention, no treaty was possible--- only destruction."

This book did show the difficulties that Grant went through to complete his memoirs. He had been diagnosed with threat cancer and his last years were filled with tremendous pain and discomfort. Completing the books which told his viewpoint of the war became, after his death, a massive bestseller which provided financially for his wife, Julia, and his family.

This book did not give sufficient details of the presidency of Ulysses Grant, however, it did justify the stature in which he was held in the hearts of his countrymen. ( )
  cyderry | Apr 20, 2012 |
I finished reading U. S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth by Joan Waugh, and I am glad I did read the whole thing. April 27 will be the 188th anniversary of the birth of Ulysses S. Grant in a small town in Ohio. For many years after this death in 1885, April 27 was celebrated as Grant Day by many across the country and around the world signifying the high esteem in which he was held for many years following his service in the Civil War and as a two-term President of the United States. Many saw Washington, Lincoln and Grant as "Father, Savior, Defender." During the twentieth-century, this assessment changed dramatically for many reasons. This book is a serious effort to set the record straight - laying our the history as it occurred, the good and the not-so-good - and how "history" has been recorded differently during subsequent periods of our national existence.

Among other things, this book is a Main Selection of the History Book Club, and a Selection of the Military Book Club and the Book-of-the-Month Club. I have been waiting for a new "unbiased" book on Grant for some time. I have found it in Waugh's book. The first third of the book is a nice summary of his life, including the war and his presidency. The last two thirds is a thorough analysis, based on review of primary source materials, of how Grant has been treated by history, historians and the media since that time. The controversy surrounding the building of Grant's Tomb/Memorial in New York City is used as platform to examine the events of the latter years of the nineteenth century as they considered the events surrounding the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the roles of white southerners, former slaves and veterans of both the Union and Confederate armies as they approached old age.

I give this book a strong positive recommendation for anyone willing to read objectively about the last 150 years of our U. S. history as we approach the Civil War Sesquicentennial next year!

This review was first posted on my blog: http://drbillsbookbazaar.blogspot.com/ ( )
  smithwil | Apr 25, 2010 |
Showing 3 of 3
Grant’s full vindication—which will render him one of the greatest presidents of his era, if not of all American history—still awaits. But when it comes, we will better understand our complicated history, and historians and citizens will have Joan Waugh to thank for helping to make this belated illumination possible.
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U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth is about a true hero, celebrated for his strength, his resolve, and his ability to overcome sever obstacles, banishing the possibility of failure.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0807833177, Hardcover)

At the time of his death, Ulysses S. Grant was the most famous person in America, considered by most citizens to be equal in stature to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Yet today his monuments are rarely visited, his military reputation is overshadowed by that of Robert E. Lee, and his presidency is permanently mired at the bottom of historical rankings.

In an insightful blend of biography and cultural history, Joan Waugh traces Grant's shifting national and international reputation, illuminating the role of memory in our understanding of American history. She captures a sense of what led nineteenth-century Americans to overlook Grant's obvious faults and hold him up as a critically important symbol of national reconciliation and unity. Waugh further shows that Grant's reputation and place in public memory closely parallel the rise and fall of the northern version of the Civil War story — in which the United States was the clear, morally superior victor and Grant was the emblem of that victory. After the failure of Reconstruction, the dominant Union myths about the war gave way to a southern version that emphasized a more sentimental remembrance of the honor and courage of both sides and ennobled the "Lost Cause." By the 1920s, Grant's reputation had plummeted.

Most Americans today are unaware of how revered Grant was in his lifetime. Joan Waugh uncovers the reasons behind the rise and fall of his renown, underscoring as well the fluctuating memory of the Civil War itself.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:49 -0400)

Most Americans today are unaware of how revered Grant was in his lifetime. Joan Waugh uncovers the reasons behind the rise and fall of his renown, underscoring as well the fluctuating memory of the Civil War itself.

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