“Leaps straight onto the roster of essential reading for anyone even vaguely interested in Grant and the Civil War.”
—Ron Chernow, author of Grant
“Provides leadership lessons that can be obtained nowhere else… Ulysses Grant in his Memoirs gives us a unique glimpse of someone who found that the habit of reflection could serve as a force multiplier for leadership.”
—Thomas E. Ricks, Foreign Policy
Ulysses S. Grant’s memoirs, sold door-to-door by former Union soldiers, were once as ubiquitous in American households as the Bible. Mark Twain and Henry James hailed them as great literature, and countless presidents credit Grant with influencing their own writing. This is the first comprehensively annotated edition of Grant’s memoirs, clarifying the great military leader’s thoughts on his life and times through the end of the Civil War and offering his invaluable perspective on battlefield decision making. With annotations compiled by the editors of the Ulysses S. Grant Association’s Presidential Library, this definitive edition enriches our understanding of the pre-war years, the war with Mexico, and the Civil War. Grant provides essential insight into how rigorously these events tested America’s democratic institutions and the cohesion of its social order.
“What gives this peculiarly reticent book its power? Above all, authenticity… Grant’s style is strikingly modern in its economy.”
—T. J. Stiles, New York Times
“It’s been said that if you’re going to pick up one memoir of the Civil War, Grant’s is the one to read. Similarly, if you’re going to purchase one of the several annotated editions of his memoirs, this is the collection to own, read, and reread.”
As the first fully annotated edition of Ulysses S. Grant’s Personal Memoirs, this fine volume leaps straight onto the roster of essential reading for anyone even vaguely interested in Grant and the Civil War. The book is deeply researched, but it introduces its scholarship with a light touch that never interferes with the reader’s enjoyment of Grant’s fluent narrative. John F. Marszalek and the folks at the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library are building a formidable array of books illuminating many aspects of the general’s life.
A richly annotated new edition… What gives this peculiarly reticent book its power? Above all, authenticity. If Grant’s voice is never confessional, it almost never rings false… Grant’s style is strikingly modern in its economy.
[This] new edition, the most thoroughly annotated ever produced, provides the general reader and scholar alike with detailed access to the general’s early life and military career.
If Mark Twain called Grant’s Memoirs ‘a great, unique and unapproachable literary masterpiece,’ The Complete Annotated Edition is its ‘unique’ companion. Renowned Civil War historian John Marszalek and his team of editors are owed our gratitude. Their annotated edition will increase appreciation among both longtime admirers and a new generation discovering why Grant is winning his deserved place among American leaders.
Grant’s style is direct and plain, but it has a kind of quiet music to it, the indescribable quality of an authentic voice. There is a level of intimacy that no amount of confessional writing could guarantee. Grant’s assessment of the Civil War and the decisions that went into its waging is mostly brisk and engaging, but what really compelled me through the book were the psychological insights on nearly every page—both of the prominent men whom Grant encountered and of the masses of people whose desires and fears he recognized, sympathized with, and often exploited. Grant’s ability to be empathetic and ruthless in the span of a few sentences—coolly calculating the costs of losing lives against the benefits of pushing on; testing what Southerners could bear and what would make them break—is consistently on display. Whatever Grant hides in his memoir is less than what he reveals. He was a man who could cringe at the cruelty of a bullfight but was willing to send men into certain slaughter to gain a riverbank, a man who understood both dignity and disgrace.
Of the many editions of the memoirs, I recommend the annotated edition published by Harvard University Press overseen by John F. Marszalek, director of the U. S. Grant Presidential Library at Mississippi State, for its invaluable notes identifying almost every personage mentioned by Grant, expanding on incidents and events Grant glosses over and even correcting his occasional misstatements.
[R]espect for Grant can only be reinforced by reading…The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant. This is the best presidential memoir written, once earning praise from no less than Mark Twain… Grant wrote in a clear and logical style, much as he issued orders, which brings the day-to-day challenges and tremors of war to his readership with never a suggestion of embellishment.
A brilliant new annotated version.
The Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant provides leadership lessons that can be obtained nowhere else…Ulysses Grant in his Memoirs gives us a unique glimpse of someone who found that the habit of reflection could serve as a force multiplier for leadership.
Ron Chernow’s Grant has been a national bestseller, deservedly so, but we think that the new edition of The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, edited and annotated [by] John F. Marszalek[,] should share that spotlight. Possibly the best presidential memoir written, annotations by Marszalek with David Nolen and Louis Gallo illuminate and contextualize the memoir for the modern reader.
[Grant’s] memoirs, presented at last in an impressive scholarly edition by John F. Marszalek, were the fruit of a last triumphant battle…Grant’s own words restore him to the pantheon of great soldier-presidents. He stands alongside Washington, Andrew Jackson, Teddy Roosevelt and Eisenhower, a select company to which he has always rightfully belonged.
A worthy capstone to compliment the now completed thirty-two volume The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant…Marszalek, et. al., have done a thorough job in annotating Grant’s text…Readers of this well-constructed and highly recommended edition of Grant’s Memoirs will not fail to appreciate the man’s modesty, but they should also keep in mind that under that modesty lay a cold-blooded willingness to keep right on.
The most copious annotated edition of Grant’s indispensable memoirs to date… It’s been said that if you’re going to pick up one memoir of the Civil War, Grant’s is the one to read. Similarly, if you’re going to purchase one of the several annotated editions of his memoirs, this is the collection to own, read, and reread.
- 816 pages
- 6-3/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Belknap Press
- With David S. Nolen and Louie P. Gallo
- Preface by Frank J. Williams
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