January 30, 2013

Review: The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace


The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace
The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace by H.W. Brands

My rating: 2 of 5 stars



NOT Brands' best work

First, there's one majorly wrong historical interpretation. Seeing that made me read the rest of this book in general with a more critical eye.

And that is that Brands perpetuates the myth that Gen. George Thomas had a McClellan-like sloth in the days before the Battle of Nashville in January, 1865. This myth has been convincingly refuted for some time.

Other issues I have with the book? I think Brands is too charitable on Grant's Reconstruction work as president, and doesn't delve enough into issues of how good a president he was in general, vis-a-vis things like naivete about corruption in his staff and cabinet, etc. In fact, the book is kind of thin on in-depth coverage of his presidency in general.

Also, other than noting Grant's devotion to his wife, Julia, he delves little into their marriage and questions about how much her vanity, etc., may have "driven" him.

And, with that, "thin" is perhaps indeed about the best overall way to describe the book beyond errors of historical interpretation.

Compared to a Brands work like "The Age of Gold," this was a disappointment.



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