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Original Essays | April 11, 2014

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Ulysses S. Grant: The Unlikely Hero (Eminent Lives)

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Ulysses S. Grant: The Unlikely Hero (Eminent Lives) Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In this concise, vivid, and brilliantly readable biography, New York Timesbestselling author Michael Korda sheds new light on the life of Ulysses S. Grant — a man who is consistently ranked as one of the greatest American generals and as one of our weaker presidents.

The son of a tanner in Ohio, soft-spoken, taciturn, given to drink, easily hurt and embarrassed, Ulysses S. Grant was the most unlikely of heroes. But, as Korda vividly demonstrates, Grant also possessed remarkable tenacity, decisiveness, a willingness to tackle conflict head-on, and a ruthlessly objective way of evaluating military situations. These characteristics are what enabled a shy and awkward boy to overcome his unhappy years as a West Point cadet and his lack of early success in the army. They propelled him through the ranks of military leadership to victory at Fort Donaldson, Shiloh, and Missionary Ridge; drove him in his epic pursuit of Lee to Appomattox; and eventually guided him to the presidency. Korda writes that it was Grant, with his slouchy hat, rumpled uniform, unkempt beard, and omnipresent cigar, who understood like no other man — Lincoln excepted — that the Civil War would be long and bloody, and would be won not by fancy maneuvers or clever strategy but by confronting the Confederate army in the field and defeating it.

Despite his battlefield successes, Grant is often dismissed as a failed president. Examining his leadership in the White House, however, both within the context of his time and in contrast to more recent American presidents, Korda shows that, although Grant's two terms were riddled with political and financial scandals, he managed to exert a calming influence on a country that had only recently emerged from civil war, and that he sought — above all things — peace between North and South, and between the United States and the rest of the world.

Korda concludes that Grant was both a military genius and an ordinary American, a warrior without arrogance or vainglory, a general who excelled at fighting and hated what he was doing — in short, a hero only America could have produced. It is at once a unique portrait of Grant and a rousing and illuminating study of his times — and of the great war he did so much to win.

Review:

"This little book will inevitably be compared with Josiah Bunting's similarly short biography of one of the world's greatest military figures (Forecasts, June 14). The marriage of author and subject works well, although Korda (Horse People: Scenes from the Riding Life, etc.) doesn't have much new to say about Lincoln's favorite general. That's not surprising, since everyone now writes about Grant in the shadow of Edmund Wilson, who gave new fame to Grant's memoirs, and William McFeely, who has written the best full biography to date. Even so, Korda freshly characterizes his man without psychologizing an unpromising subject. Grant was, after all, unyieldingly stolid and tight-lipped. While his qualities of directness and taciturnity made him a great general, they didn't yield up a fascinating man or a great president. Korda does about as good a job of bringing Grant to life as possible and handles all the essential set pieces — Grant as Mexican War officer, Civil War general, president and author of masterful memoirs on the eve of his death — with much skill. He's less perceptive than Bunting about Grant's presidency and occasionally puts unnecessary erudition on display, but on the whole this is a highly readable, accurate study of the man. FYI: This title launches the new Eminent Lives series, edited by James Atlas." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Book News Annotation:

Simon & Schuster's editor-in-chief offers insights into Grant (1822- 85), 18th president of the US. Beginning this concise biography with speculation about how Grant might have felt about his tomb being used as the backdrop for a recent pop concert, Korda traces his upbringing, victories as a Civil War general, and shortcomings as president (e.g., failure to grasp economics) in the context of the times. The author urges politicians contemplating the use of force to first read Grant. Lacks an index.
Annotation 2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

One of the first two volumes in Harper’ s Eminent Lives series, Korda brings his acclaimed storytelling talents to the life of Ulysses S. Grant - a man who managed to end the Civil War on a note of grace, serve two terms as president, write one of the most successful military memoirs in American literature, and is today remembered as a brilliant general but a failed president.

Ulysses S. Grant was the first officer since George Washington to become a four-star general in the United States Army, and the only president between Andrew Jackson and Woodrow Wilson to serve eight consecutive years in the White House. In this succinct and vivid biography, Michael Korda considers Grant’ s character and reconciles the conflicting evaluations of his leadership abilities.

Grant’ s life played out as a true Horatio Alger story. Despite his humble background as the son of a tanner in Ohio, his lack of early success in the army, and assorted failed business ventures, his unwavering determination propelled him through the ranks of military leadership and into the presidency. But while the general’ s tenacity and steadfastness contributed to his success on the battlefield, it both aided and crippled his effectiveness in the White House.

Assessing Grant both within the context of his time and in contrast to more recent American leaders, Korda casts a benevolent eye on Grant’ s presidency while at the same time conceding his weaknesses. He suggests that though the general’ s second term ended in financial and political scandals, the fact remains that for eight years Grant exerted a calming influence on a country that had only just emerged from a horrendous civil war.Ulysses S. Grant is an even-handed and stirring portrait of a man who guided America through a pivotal juncture in its history.

Synopsis:

One of the first two volumes in Harper's Eminent Lives series, Korda brings his acclaimed storytelling talents to the life of Ulysses S. Grant – a man who managed to end the Civil War on a note of grace, serve two terms as president, write one of the most successful military memoirs in American literature, and is today remembered as a brilliant general but a failed president.

Ulysses S. Grant was the first officer since George Washington to become a four–star general in the United States Army, and the only president between Andrew Jackson and Woodrow Wilson to serve eight consecutive years in the White House. In this succinct and vivid biography, Michael Korda considers Grant's character and reconciles the conflicting evaluations of his leadership abilities.

Grant's life played out as a true Horatio Alger story. Despite his humble background as the son of a tanner in Ohio, his lack of early success in the army, and assorted failed business ventures, his unwavering determination propelled him through the ranks of military leadership and into the presidency. But while the general's tenacity and steadfastness contributed to his success on the battlefield, it both aided and crippled his effectiveness in the White House.

Assessing Grant both within the context of his time and in contrast to more recent American leaders, Korda casts a benevolent eye on Grant's presidency while at the same time conceding his weaknesses. He suggests that though the general's second term ended in financial and political scandals, the fact remains that for eight years Grant exerted a calming influence on a country that had only just emerged from a horrendous civil war. Ulysses S. Grant is an even–handed and stirring portrait of a man who guided America through a pivotal juncture in its history.

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Michael Korda's books include Ike, Charmed Lives, Horse People, Ulysses S. Grant, and Journey to a Revolution. Educated at Le Rosey in Switzerland and at Magdalen College, Oxford, he served in the Royal Air Force. He lives with his wife, Margaret, in Dutchess County, New York.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780060590154
Author:
Korda, Michael
Publisher:
Harper Collins
Author:
by Michael Korda
Location:
New York
Subject:
United States - Civil War
Subject:
Presidents
Subject:
Generals
Subject:
Political leadership
Subject:
United States - Reconstruction Period (1865-1877)
Subject:
Presidents & Heads of State
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Presidents -- United States.
Subject:
Biography-Presidents and Heads of State
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Series:
Eminent Lives
Series Volume:
239
Publication Date:
20040928
Binding:
Book
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
176
Dimensions:
7.42x5.34x.72 in. .59 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Biography » Presidents and Heads of State
History and Social Science » Military » Civil War » General
History and Social Science » US History » 1800 to Civil War
History and Social Science » US History » 1860 to 1920
History and Social Science » US History » 19th Century
History and Social Science » US History » US Presidency

Ulysses S. Grant: The Unlikely Hero (Eminent Lives) Used Hardcover
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$12.95 In Stock
Product details 176 pages Eminent Lives - English 9780060590154 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "This little book will inevitably be compared with Josiah Bunting's similarly short biography of one of the world's greatest military figures (Forecasts, June 14). The marriage of author and subject works well, although Korda (Horse People: Scenes from the Riding Life, etc.) doesn't have much new to say about Lincoln's favorite general. That's not surprising, since everyone now writes about Grant in the shadow of Edmund Wilson, who gave new fame to Grant's memoirs, and William McFeely, who has written the best full biography to date. Even so, Korda freshly characterizes his man without psychologizing an unpromising subject. Grant was, after all, unyieldingly stolid and tight-lipped. While his qualities of directness and taciturnity made him a great general, they didn't yield up a fascinating man or a great president. Korda does about as good a job of bringing Grant to life as possible and handles all the essential set pieces — Grant as Mexican War officer, Civil War general, president and author of masterful memoirs on the eve of his death — with much skill. He's less perceptive than Bunting about Grant's presidency and occasionally puts unnecessary erudition on display, but on the whole this is a highly readable, accurate study of the man. FYI: This title launches the new Eminent Lives series, edited by James Atlas." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , One of the first two volumes in Harper’ s Eminent Lives series, Korda brings his acclaimed storytelling talents to the life of Ulysses S. Grant - a man who managed to end the Civil War on a note of grace, serve two terms as president, write one of the most successful military memoirs in American literature, and is today remembered as a brilliant general but a failed president.

Ulysses S. Grant was the first officer since George Washington to become a four-star general in the United States Army, and the only president between Andrew Jackson and Woodrow Wilson to serve eight consecutive years in the White House. In this succinct and vivid biography, Michael Korda considers Grant’ s character and reconciles the conflicting evaluations of his leadership abilities.

Grant’ s life played out as a true Horatio Alger story. Despite his humble background as the son of a tanner in Ohio, his lack of early success in the army, and assorted failed business ventures, his unwavering determination propelled him through the ranks of military leadership and into the presidency. But while the general’ s tenacity and steadfastness contributed to his success on the battlefield, it both aided and crippled his effectiveness in the White House.

Assessing Grant both within the context of his time and in contrast to more recent American leaders, Korda casts a benevolent eye on Grant’ s presidency while at the same time conceding his weaknesses. He suggests that though the general’ s second term ended in financial and political scandals, the fact remains that for eight years Grant exerted a calming influence on a country that had only just emerged from a horrendous civil war.Ulysses S. Grant is an even-handed and stirring portrait of a man who guided America through a pivotal juncture in its history.

"Synopsis" by , One of the first two volumes in Harper's Eminent Lives series, Korda brings his acclaimed storytelling talents to the life of Ulysses S. Grant – a man who managed to end the Civil War on a note of grace, serve two terms as president, write one of the most successful military memoirs in American literature, and is today remembered as a brilliant general but a failed president.

Ulysses S. Grant was the first officer since George Washington to become a four–star general in the United States Army, and the only president between Andrew Jackson and Woodrow Wilson to serve eight consecutive years in the White House. In this succinct and vivid biography, Michael Korda considers Grant's character and reconciles the conflicting evaluations of his leadership abilities.

Grant's life played out as a true Horatio Alger story. Despite his humble background as the son of a tanner in Ohio, his lack of early success in the army, and assorted failed business ventures, his unwavering determination propelled him through the ranks of military leadership and into the presidency. But while the general's tenacity and steadfastness contributed to his success on the battlefield, it both aided and crippled his effectiveness in the White House.

Assessing Grant both within the context of his time and in contrast to more recent American leaders, Korda casts a benevolent eye on Grant's presidency while at the same time conceding his weaknesses. He suggests that though the general's second term ended in financial and political scandals, the fact remains that for eight years Grant exerted a calming influence on a country that had only just emerged from a horrendous civil war. Ulysses S. Grant is an even–handed and stirring portrait of a man who guided America through a pivotal juncture in its history.

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