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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Book Review - U. S. Grant by Joan Waugh

 Book Review
U. S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth 
by Joan Waugh

I finished reading U. S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth by Joan Waugh, and I am glad I did read the whole thing. April 27 will be the 188th anniversary of the birth of Ulysses S. Grant in a small town in Ohio. For many years after this death in 1885, April 27 was celebrated as Grant Day by many across the country and around the world signifying the high esteem in which he was held for many years following his service in the Civil War and as a two-term President of the United States. Many saw Washington, Lincoln and Grant as "Father, Savior, Defender." During the twentieth-century, this assessment changed dramatically for many reasons. This book is a serious effort to set the record straight - laying our the history as it occurred, the good and the not-so-good - and how "history" has been recorded differently during subsequent periods of our national existence.

Among other things, this book is a Main Selection of the History Book Club, and a Selection of the Military Book Club and the Book-of-the-Month Club. I have been waiting for a new "unbiased" book on Grant for some time. I have found it in Waugh's book. The first third of the book is a nice summary of his life, including the war and his presidency. The last two thirds is a thorough analysis, based on review of primary source materials, of how Grant has been treated by history, historians and the media since that time. The controversy surrounding the building of Grant's Tomb/Memorial in New York City is used as platform to examine the events of the latter years of the nineteenth century as they considered the events surrounding the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the roles of white southerners, former slaves and veterans of both the Union and Confederate armies as they approached old age.

I give this book a strong positive recommendation for anyone willing to read objectively about the last 150 years of our U. S. history as we approach the Civil War Sesquicentennial next year!

Happy Reading! ;-)

Dr. Bill


  1. Thank you for this wonderful review s well as the GoodReads recommendation. I am adding this to my TBR list.

  2. Good review. I like to learn history through books. I think it would be good to read about how history sometimes gets "modified" in presentation.