1. Welcome to the CivilWarTalk, a forum for questions and discussions about the American Civil War! Become a member today for full access to all of our resources, it's fast, simple, and absolutely free!
Dismiss Notice
Join and Become a Patron at CivilWarTalk!
Support this site with a monthly or yearly subscription! Active Patrons get to browse the site Ad free!
START BY JOINING NOW!

Best biography of Ulysses S. Grant?

Discussion in 'Book & Movie Review Tent' started by veritasbulldog82, Jul 12, 2018.

  1. veritasbulldog82

    veritasbulldog82 Private

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2018
    Messages:
    47
    I am looking to find a good biography of U.S. Grant. I am not a big fan of Ron Chernow because I don't trust his objectivity. Anyone have some suggestions?
     

  2. (Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
  3. cash

    cash Brev. Brig. Gen'l

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2005
    Messages:
    32,715
    Location:
    Right here.
    Brooks Simpson, Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph Over Adversity, 1822-1865.

    Volume 2, Fruits of Victory, is in the works.
     
  4. Skarpskytten

    Skarpskytten Private

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2016
    Messages:
    33
    Location:
    Växjö, Sweden
  5. 67th Tigers

    67th Tigers 2nd Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2006
    Messages:
    3,034
    The most balanced Grant biography remains McFeely's. It's sympathetic to Grant, but not overly so.
     
    Harvey Johnson likes this.
  6. cash

    cash Brev. Brig. Gen'l

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2005
    Messages:
    32,715
    Location:
    Right here.
    That's a false statement.
     
    Pat Young and Bee like this.
  7. Bee

    Bee Captain Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2015
    Messages:
    6,173
    Well, since @67th Tigers insists on repeating a false statement about the McFeely biography, I am bound by truth to re-state the facts.

    The facts:

    "Grant's contemporaries," asserts historian Brooks Simpson, "would have had a difficult time recognizing the man described in McFeely's book"

    That quote comes from a fabulous in-depth analysis that Prof. Simpson did on the McFeely book, in which he quotes passages, and uses primary source to refute them.
     
  8. 67th Tigers

    67th Tigers 2nd Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2006
    Messages:
    3,034
    The OP wanted a non-hagiographic biography of Grant. McFeely's was the last biography to really consider Grant's flaws.
     
    Harvey Johnson likes this.
  9. cash

    cash Brev. Brig. Gen'l

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2005
    Messages:
    32,715
    Location:
    Right here.
    That's untrue.
     
  10. cash

    cash Brev. Brig. Gen'l

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2005
    Messages:
    32,715
    Location:
    Right here.
    McFeely's book was a hatchet job. It didn't consider Giant's faults, it manufactured them.

    McFeely mishandled evidence throughout the book. It's a poor example of biography.
     
    johan_steele, Jimklag and Bee like this.
  11. Bee

    Bee Captain Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2015
    Messages:
    6,173
    When choosing your biography, keep in mind that the Papers of U S Grant were not finished being edited until 2000+. The Simpson biography was one of the first (if not thee first) to be released in that era. At the time of McFeely's release (which includes the Grant Presidency) the PUSG had only been edited up to Reconstruction.
     
    Joshism, cash and MaryDee like this.
  12. David Moore

    David Moore First Sergeant

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2014
    Messages:
    1,705
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    Don’t limit yourself to one book. Grant is an important figure in US history and his military reputation has waxed and waned over the last 150 years. Ultimately one reads for ones’s own education.
    You have to decide how much you want to know about him.
     
    Pat Young likes this.
  13. 67th Tigers

    67th Tigers 2nd Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2006
    Messages:
    3,034
    Last time this came up the best example with was a dispute about an account of an conversation Grant's brother had.

    Whilst of course a few points could be disputed, and there are a few typos, there is no evidence of anything like what you allege. If there was I think Simpson's 1987 paper would have found it. As it was he could provide a few counterarguments, but for one of them Simpson claims Grant was unaware that the Federal Army suffered casualties for two days after the 3rd July assault at Cold Harbor. If that's true it speaks to something else, but it obviously isn't. For another the fact that Grant decided he didn't want to sleep in an active hospital with the pools of blood and amputations occurring it his prospective bedroom is mustered as evidence of Grant not being indifferent to the plight of the wounded. They are not great counterarguments.

    McFeely's book is obviously not a hatchet job. Yes, you don't like McFeely shining a light into a dark corner, but that's why McFeely is important.
     
    Harvey Johnson likes this.
  14. cash

    cash Brev. Brig. Gen'l

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2005
    Messages:
    32,715
    Location:
    Right here.
    Pure baloney. Brooks Simpson wrote two articles detailing McFeely's mishandling of evidence.

    As usual, don't trust McClellan fanboys on history.
     
  15. wausaubob

    wausaubob Captain

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2017
    Messages:
    6,092
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    One poster doesn't trust Mr. Chernow and another poster uses the term "hagiography". How is this anything other than a discussion about finding a depiction of Grant that conforms to certain preconceived ideas?
     
    Booklady, Jimklag, Joshism and 2 others like this.
  16. Bee

    Bee Captain Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2015
    Messages:
    6,173
    I agree. I found the Simpson biography was good for the war and Chernow did well with the Grant presidency. These are not only readings on Grant that I have done, but they are the combination that I like thus far.
     
    Jimklag, Eric Calistri and cash like this.
  17. 67th Tigers

    67th Tigers 2nd Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2006
    Messages:
    3,034
    Really? There is only one listed in Simpson's publication list, his 1987 paper. It certainly contains no suggestion of "mishandling of evidence", but rather a weak attempt to provide a counterargument by overconcluding from a few references. Is there a second paper that he doesn't put on his publication list?
     
  18. matthew mckeon

    matthew mckeon Brigadier General Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2005
    Messages:
    12,754
    There is the new annotated publication of Grant's Personal Memoirs. I read the Memoirs about twenty years ago, they are definitely worth reading, although maybe not what you want to start with.
     
    Joshism, Pat Young and DanSBHawk like this.
  19. cash

    cash Brev. Brig. Gen'l

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2005
    Messages:
    32,715
    Location:
    Right here.
    Well, I don't know where you pulled this alleged publication list from. I simply read what he wrote. If by "his 1987 paper" you mean the article in Civil War History titled "Butcher? Racist? An Examination of William S. McFeely's Grant: A Biography," you haven't told the truth about all the problems identified in the article. The article is filled with corrections to McFeely's fumbles.

    He wrote another article that answered McFeely's inaccuracies in Civil War History in 1990 titled " 'The Doom of Slavery': Ulysses S. Grant, War Aims, and Emancipation, 1861-1863."
     
    Pat Young likes this.
  20. Bee

    Bee Captain Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2015
    Messages:
    6,173
    That "weak attempt" of an article is about 20 pages long, each of them containing 3 to 4 footnotes- most of them primary source.

    All of this is discussed in the original Best Biography on Grant as Commander thread.
     
    Joshism, Pat Young and cash like this.
  21. 67th Tigers

    67th Tigers 2nd Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2006
    Messages:
    3,034
    His C.V., or is that his alleged C.V.?

    Did he write a second paper in 1987?

    You appear not to have read it. It bears no resemblance to what you claim. It was his first publication as a Ph.D. student, and it shows. Simpson tackles two threads:

    1. He tries to attack McFeely's argument that Grant "simply shut off the horrors of war for which he was responsible" using the following evidence:

    1a. A tale of giving Brandy to a wounded officer and a rebel soldier, which Catton used (original source is this 1898 magazine, and the officer, if real, must be 2Lt Joseph Hanger)
    1b. Grant decided not to sleep in an active hospital during the Battle of Shiloh
    1c. The observations of Horace Porter, although whilst Simpson references pgs 63-4 he neglects a direct statement from Porter that Grant couldn't stand the sight of the wounded.
    1d. He tries to claim that Grant was unaware of the wounded at Cold Harbor because there was no written communication about them until the 5th.

    2. That Grant was indifferent to the plight of slaves (which I won't address).

    For point 1, Simpson's arguments are weak. He has produced no evidence that seriously challenges McFeely's conclusions because all the evidence produced simply doesn't challenge it.

    McFeely is mentioned once in that paper, as a reference to Simpson's 1987 paper. McFeely's writings are not mentioned at all in the 1990 paper.

    [​IMG]
     
    Harvey Johnson likes this.

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)

Share This Page


(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)