Despite his reputation for rash decisions, brutal tactics, and intemperate behavior, Ulysses S. Grant was the only Union general who could win the war for Lincoln. Grant's aggressive strategies, swift movements and uncompromising battlefield attacks were praised in the North, feared in the South, and reviled by many of his own associates and staff.
General Grant is, perhaps, one of the most controversial, enigmatic, and misunderstood generals in our nation's history. In this new biography of Grant, acclaimed Civil War historian Edward G. Longacre examines Grant's early life, military training at West Point, and his later military career for insights into his great battlefield successes and his personal misfortune. Longacre, to a degree that no other historian has done before, investigates Grant's drinking as well as his devout religious affiliation with temperance movements, and the role these conflicting forces had on his military career and conduct.
Longacre's conclusions may surprise readers, but no one will doubt the research and scholarship behind them. As he has done in all his previous military biographies, Longacre challenges readers and scholars alike with a new perspective on the ever-fascinating life of General Grant.
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Edward Longacre's biography of Grant is enjoyable and interesting. Langacre describes Grant's early life, his life at West Point, his first taste of battle during the war with Mexico, his family life, and his life during the Civil War. The book does not cover Grant's life as president of the US, deferring to other authors.
Longacre, as with any well-covered famous person from history, tends to argue with historians and biographers whom you may or may not have read. This can be annoying if you are reading this book as a first introduction to Grant, or if you simply don't care for the arguments of academics.
Jonathan Walker's narration is slow and precise - perfect for listening to in the car. I recommend this book.
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The narrator makes this a worthwhile and entertaining listen. 5 stars. Was able to listen to the whole 12 hours with ease
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An unitiated's perspective
As someone not familiar with Grant or the Civil War, beyond high school history education, I found this book to be a nice introduction to the further study of both subjects, but not groundbreaking. The author does a very good job describing Grant's early life, as well as the period setting. I found the setting description to be very enlightening and colorful; it added a lot of life to the book. The presentation was also quite good, with only a single caveat - the reader did not differentiate between sentences, paragraphs or chapters, always pausing for the same amount. This made the reading a little monotonous. The largest flaw with the book, however, is the author's strong bias in favor of Grant. Grant is a likeable character in general, but the author went a little over the top passing his own moral judgments over people who hindered Grant in his private and professional lives. In addition, I felt that the author tried to excuse Grant's drinking. A smaller complaint on my part is the fact that the author focuses so tightly on Grant that he fails to paint a bigger picture of the Civil War setting. A few times I lost track of the overall military situation, and did not fully understand Grant's motives and actions that were dictated bu that situation. Still, this is a decent book, which I believe will benefit people with more prior knowledge of the subject matter than me.