Book Review: Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant

Some of you might not know this, but I am a historian at heart. Even during my time in the Army I always felt the pull of the past. Every so often a figure comes along that changes the world around them, reshapes perceived destiny. Ulysses S Grant is such a man. Born of humble means, Grant had no aspirations for military life and certainly didn’t want to go to West Point.

Life seldom cares what we want, however. His memoirs cover his time in uniform- both stints. He served with distinction in the Mexican War before trying his hand at the civilian world. Grant was all but pressed back into service when the Civil War began and, through his actions, became the single greatest general in the North. His campaigns down through Mississippi are still taught.

Grant is candid in his writing, complementary when necessary, and refuses to speak ill of many people. His quality of character is evident in his tactical decisions. His ability to make subordinates want to follow is exemplary. This is the perfect read for amateur historians and anyone interested in one of the great figures of the American past. Though lengthy, it is easy to follow and stops with the surrender of the final Confederate army in Durham, North Carolina (Gen Johnstone surrendered to Gen Sherman. His army was the last remaining Confederate force in the field).

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