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Ulysses S. Grant : Memoirs and Selected Letters : Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant / Selected Letters, 1839-1865

by Ulysses S. Grant

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,3221114,710 (4.3)35
Contains a chronology of Grant's life and military career, his memoirs, and 174 personal letters.
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» See also 35 mentions

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memoirs of early career and the Civil War
  ritaer | Aug 27, 2021 |
Originally read aboard Hawkbill, picked up over 4th of July weekend 2021. Read from the commencement of hostilities through Grant's taking command, and then picked through to the conclusion of the war.

The early narrative is more compelling as we read of the various attempts against Vicksburg, the stands of Thomas, and Sherman's dash.

Once in command Grant had more to worry about and is obviously more remote from the front.

An amazing American in the right place at the right time for his country. ( )
  kcshankd | Jul 15, 2021 |
I've only read a bit of Julius Caesar's Commentaries, but I think Mark Twain was right to put this on the same level. I gained a huge amount of respect for Grant for his clear, perceptive, and honest account of his service in the Mexican and Civil Wars. It really is a marvel of lucidity, and makes you respect the power of a plain prose style when it comes to such bloody subject matter. He doesn't talk about his Presidency or Reconstruction at all, which is sort of a shame, because while I would eagerly have read about him kicking rebel ass for hundreds of pages more, I was also curious to see what his takes on the huge challenges the country was undergoing during his tenure would have been. But it's plain to see that he was more of a soldier than anything else, and unlike Eisenhower he had some actual domestic challenges to deal with, so he wisely sticks to his strengths and delivers one of the more powerful books I've read by a President. Why are 19th century authors so good? ( )
  aaronarnold | May 11, 2021 |
In the course of reading American Ulysses, Whitehead’s biography of Ulysses S. Grant, I discovered that not only was Grant very intelligent and well read, but that he had penned memoirs, without the aid of a ghost writer, which were held in very high regard by presidential scholars. I purchased this memoir as a result.

I found the writing to be very well done, despite the fact that much of it was done as Grant suffered through the end stages of terminal cancer. The scope of the work is very limited, however, as it provides very little insight into his early, formative years, and concludes with the end of the Civil War. I was hoping for some account of his post-War and presidential years.

There is some extremely good and wise counsel within his writing, especially as relates to human nature and observations made throughout the military and political infighting surrounding the War.

My low rating derives from the narrow scope of the autobiography, coupled with the fact that the book is a chore to read, for one primary reason: A complete lack of any maps to supplement the voluminous descriptions of strategic and tactical maneuvering associated with many of the battles and campaigns described therein.

As I said, there are frequent outstanding observations sprinkled throughout the book, however, by far the bulk of the writing concerns specific Civil War battles, sometimes extending for dozens of pages, citing small towns, roads, directions, battalions, regiments and armies, without any frame of reference whatsoever. This book would be helped immeasurably by detailed maps which would help the reader follow the battle flows described in the narrative. Without the maps, this writing is largely worthless. ( )
  santhony | Sep 15, 2017 |
This is mainly an account of Grant's military campaigns both in Mexico and in the Civil War. His clear writing and excellent descriptions of troop movements and engagements make for absorbing reading. It helps to consult maps of the battles he describes and to have some general knowledge of these conflicts. It becomes clear that he was a skilled battlefield tactician, a hands-on general that kept in close contact with his officers, and a superb communicator whose unambiguous and detailed directives allowed the Union to prevail. To the surprise of many, Grant turned out to be an capable writer, but he seemed to have mastered many of these abilities before or during the time he was a general. Many of his messages reproduced here are impressive, written under extreme time pressure to boot.

The book itself of course was also written the time pressure of a
terminal illness.

Grant's point of view here is more of a journalist than it is a memoirist. He reveals very little of his personal life. He refers to his wife as Mrs. Grant on those few occasions when he refers to her at all. He describes one incident in which he had to visit his eldest son who was seriously ill, but the reader is left to wonder what the outcome was. (He survived.) Grant cared about his soldiers and wished to avoid placing their lives in any more danger than was necessary, but nowhere does he reflect deeply on this issue, on the carnage of the Civil War, or the way he was able to reconcile his duty as a commanding officer in a brutal war with values of compassion and humanity. He does characterize the confederate cause as one of the worst in human history, yet admires the bravery of the opposing forces. Grant undoubtedly reconciled all this in his own mind, but perhaps due to the conventions prevailing among military officers in the 19th century, he shares little of that with us. Having done so well as a historian, I at least wondered about Grant-from-within was like. ( )
  bkinetic | Dec 7, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Grant, Ulysses S.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
McFeely, Mary D.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McFeely, William S.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Paschall, RodIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
These volumes are dedicated to the American soldier and sailor.
First words
My family is American, and has been for generations, in all its branches, direct and collateral.
Quotations
"No terms except immediate and unconditional surrender. I propose to move immediately upon your works."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is an omnibus unique to the Library of America; therefore, all CK facts apply to this publication only.
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Contains a chronology of Grant's life and military career, his memoirs, and 174 personal letters.

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