U. S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth (Civil War America)

by Joan Waugh

Hardcover, 2009




The University of North Carolina Press, (2009)


At the time of his death, Ulysses S. Grant was the most famous person in America, considered by most citizens to be equal in stature to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Yet today his monuments are rarely visited, his military reputation is overshadowed by that of Robert E. Lee, and his presidency is permanently mired at the bottom of historical rankings. Joan Waugh uncovers the reasons behind the rise and fall of Grant's renown, underscoring as well the fluctuating memory of the Civil War itself.

Media reviews

Grant’s full vindication—which will render him one of the greatest presidents of his era, if not of all American history—still awaits. But when it comes, we will better understand our complicated history, and historians and citizens will have Joan Waugh to thank for helping to make this belated illumination possible.

User reviews

LibraryThing member cyderry
I'm not going into a full review of this book basically because the three parts - his life, his reputation, and his effect on history was IMO, though well-written, lacking in enough details to make a full review worthwhile.

What this book did document was the successful way that Grant directed the entire Union forces after taking charge in 1864. It seems that so many believe that Grant was an unfeeling man because of the vast numbers of soldiers that were killed in the battles nearing the end of the war, but his own words show how he felt the necessity of being victorious. "we all felt, even those who did not object to slavery, that it was a stain on the Union that men should be bought and sold like cattle...We were fighting an enemy with whom we could not make peace. We had to destroy him. No convention, no treaty was possible--- only destruction."

This book did show the difficulties that Grant went through to complete his memoirs. He had been diagnosed with threat cancer and his last years were filled with tremendous pain and discomfort. Completing the books which told his viewpoint of the war became, after his death, a massive bestseller which provided financially for his wife, Julia, and his family.

This book did not give sufficient details of the presidency of Ulysses Grant, however, it did justify the stature in which he was held in the hearts of his countrymen.
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LibraryThing member mybucketlistofbooks
Very good overview of Grant's life and career as well as a very good review of how Grant's reputation has changed over the years Professor Waugh does a really good job showing how unbelievably popular Grant was in his time.

After his death southern historians did a very good job planting doubts about Grant's accomplishments into mainstream thought. Recently however Grant's reputation has been on the upswing - and deservedly so. This book is a continuation of that trend… (more)


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