GRANT: A BIOGRAPHY
by William S. McFeely
ISBN 978-0-945707-15-8 $35.00
591 pages including illustrations, notes,. bibliography and index.
This is a biography of a mid-nineteenth-century Ohio boy
who couldn’t hold a job but became the nation’s commanding general and later
its president. Ulysses Grant had gone to West Point largely because
his father despaired of making a successful businessman of him. He
came alive in the Mexican War, but afterward, on remote posts in the Pacific
Northwest, he slipped into depression and drinking. Back in Missouri
and Illinois, he moved down from farmer to rent collector to shop clerk.
He had married in 1848, and in 1860, two not-so-young Americans seemed settled
into quite failure.
The Civil War brought opportunity, and Grant’s simple strategy
- - to outkill and out- last the enemy - - prevailed. While nothing
in his earlier life suggested unusual ability, he was greatly successful,
to a point where the presidency was almost inevitable. But statecraft
was less arousing than war. Grant never mastered it and again failed.
He was a successful spokesman for neither business nor the interests of the
outsiders. He failed to secure the rights of his loyal black constituents,
and he was never able to find a voice with which to express what lay beneath
the frustrated energy of thousands of ordinary Americans, like himself,
for whom nothing save war had proved compelling. Leaving office, with
no battlefield before him, the hero traveled the world accepting the cheers
to which he had grown addicted. Not until his final battle did he become
truly engaged again, writing his Personal Memoirs while dying of cancer.
Much has been written about Grant, but no previous book has
grasped his personality in a way that explains and resolves the many enigmas
of his life. Here William S. McFeely gives us the real Grant - - an
ordinary and extraordinary man.