Grant by Ron Chernow


Rate: 4.5/5


Medium: Audiobook/Kindle


Overview:

Having raved over two other Chernow books, Washington and Hamilton, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on his newest release, Grant.  I received this audiobook from my local library back in October and promptly listened to this marathon read over the next couple of weeks.  Alas, the return date snuck up on me and I had to fork over this long read a mere four hours short of finishing.  Over the next two months I waited patiently for my number to be called again, finally receiving the Kindle version a few weeks ago.  Prior to this read, I’d had an image of Grant in my head as a stumbling, corrupt, warmongering drunk.  I explicitly remember one of my teachers along the way talking of his constant inebriation and the fraudulent characters that filled his cabinet.  Needless to say, I went into this read with preconceived, and as a whole false, notions regarding the man I was about to learn a significant amount about.  While I’ve read countless books about the Civil War, none that I can recall focused on the Western Campaign or the Reconstruction time period.  In Grant, Chernow again masterfully delivered a massive quantity of information in a beautifully woven, eloquent manner that holds the reader apt throughout.  As Chernow focused on Grant’s involvement in the Western Campaign, I found my curiosity piqued and would Googling this battles I’d heard about, but knew little of the actual details, e.g., Shiloh, Vicksburg. The same can be said of Reconstruction, as I found myself shocked at how little I’d ever heard this time period discussed in my history classes.  As such, Grant contained a plethora of knowledge that served to deepen my understanding of this tumultuous time period.   Regarding the namesake of this book, Grant was an intriguing, unlikely character who seemed to be born at the right time in history to make such a significant impact.  Yes he did suffer from alcohol abuse, however from this account those episodes occurred after the conclusions of major battles or stressful events, all the while he attempted to surround himself with positive influences.  Later in life, he appears to have overcome this battle with little to no account of his binges occurring while he was President or on his amazing world travels.  Many wild tales of his drinking that did spring up throughout his life have had much doubt cast on them by historians due to the malicious intent of the reporter  or the individual not even being in the same city as the General during the aforementioned event.  With regard to the corruption that trailed Grant throughout his Presidency and after, Chernow paints a realistic portrait of Grant, new to the political realm, being overly naïve and blindly loyal.  As someone who is personally unfamiliar with political wiles, I can only image making similar mistakes as Grant, if I were thrust into a place of such power with little to no experience. Overall, while some of the political bickering and navigating later in Grant’s presidency grew rather tedious, as a whole, Chernow again delivers a delightful, detail packed read that transports the reader to another poignant time within our American history.


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23 comments

  1. I want him to write a book on Taft because people only seem to know that he was fat and had a mustache. He didn’t seem to be a great president but was on the supreme court and did other cool things. I also want to read all the other books by the author but haven’t gotten around to it yet. I did read an excellent book on John Adams. I believe that me history lessons of the US were a disgrace all around. Lovely review matey!
    x The Captain

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Bought this book as a holiday gift for my Dad; he’s loving it and has made many observations similar to yours. With two stellar recommendations, I look forward even more to borrowing it when he’s finished!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks to my parents and aunt gifting me money and gift cards for Christmas, I went on a shopping spree and Chernow’s Grant was one of the books I chose (over Ronald White’s own biography of Grant).

    I’ve read Grant’s Personal Memoirs, 6 years ago it was the last book I read without writing a review. Grant didn’t talk about his Presidency, he ended the book after the Civil War. But it’s considered one of the best Presidential memoirs, if not THE best, especially as he raced against the cancer killing him to finish it. If you want to read/hear from Grant himself, definitely read this book.

    Also I concur with the Captain about David McCullough’s John Adams.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. My husband has a room filled with Civil War books. I’ll share your post with him.

    Have you seen the award winning PBS series “The Civil War” by Ken Burns? It is amazing. Burns “uses contemporary cinematography in addition to thousands of archival photographs, paintings and newspaper images set to music to teach people about the Civil War. A number of well-known actors and actresses lend their voices to the production as they read contemporary quotes from historical figures, including Abraham Lincoln and Stonewall Jackson.”

    Liked by 1 person

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