Ulysses S. Grant
Triumph Over Adversity, 1822-1865
By Brooks D. Simpson
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780395659946, 560pp.)
Publication Date: February 2000
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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Washington, Lincoln, Grant--these were once the triumvirate of American nationalism. But, like his tomb on the Hudson, Grant's reputation has fallen into disrepair. The image many Americans hold of him is a caricature: someone "uniquely stupid," an insensitive butcher as a general, an incompetent mediocrity as president, and a drunk. Several efforts to counter this stereotype have often gone too far in the other direction, resulting in an equally distorted laudatory portrait of near-perfection. In reading the original sources, Brooks D. Simpson became convinced that Grant was neither a bumbling idiot who was the darling of fortune nor a flawless general who could do no wrong. Rather, he was a tangle of opposing qualities--a relentless warrior but a generous victor, a commander who drew upon uncommon common sense in drafting campaign plans and in winning battles, a soldier so sensitive to suffering that he could not stand to see the bloody hides at his father's tannery, a man who made mistakes and sometimes learned from them. Even as he waged war, he realized the broader political implications of the struggle; he came to believe that the preservation of the Union depended upon the destruction of slavery. Equally compelling is Grant's personal story--one of a man who struggled against great odds, bad luck, and personal humiliation, who sought joy and love in the arms of his wife and his children, and who was determined to overcome adversity and prevail over his detractors. "None of our public men have a story so strange as this," Owen Wister once observed; agreeing, William T. Sherman remarked that Grant remained a mystery even to himself. In the first of two volumes, Brooks Simpson brings Grant's story to life in an account that is readable, balanced, compelling, and definitive.
Brooks D. Simpson is a professor of History at Arizona State University and the author of Let Us Have Peace: Ulysses S. Grant and The Politics of War and Reconstruction. He resides in Chandler, Arizona.
"The military career of Ulysses S. Grant is truly an exceptional story...and the author tells it with obvious sympathy and feeling, but with appropriate historical objectivity and balance...Simpson's detailed analysis of Grant's drinking problem and the development of his character traits are among the more distinctive and valuable features of this book....Simpson also supplies full coverage of Grant's domestic life and his devotion to his wife and children...A masterly job...a detailed and exciting narrative of how one man succeeded, where so many had failed, in pinning the Union back together again." The New York Times
"In this first volume of a projected two, Brooks Simpson, a historian at Arizona State University, offers an engaging and judicious account of the Civil War hero for whom little in life, not even his name, came easily. " The Washington Post
"This is the best study of Grant's military career since Bruce Catton's two volumes; and on many matters it exceeds Catton, as a consequence of the immense amount of Civil War scholarship during the past thirty years, which Simpson has thoroughly mastered. He has provided us with perhaps the best treatment of Union military command and strategy now in print...One eagerly awaits Simpson's second volume for the rest of the story." New Republic