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Grant

By: Ron Chernow
Narrated by: Mark Bramhall
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Editorial reviews

Editors Select, October 2017

I always thought Grant was a mediocre general and a lackluster president. I now know how wrong I was! As a general, Grant was the epitome of military strategy and preparedness; after all, the Civil War didn’t win itself. As president, Grant strove to heal the nation’s rifts after the Civil War, using federal power to try to crush the KKK. Ron Chernow tells a fascinating tale of one man’s ever-present humanity against the backdrop of far-reaching historic events. Mark Bramhall’s energetic performance makes the audiobook fly. Thank you, President Grant, for all you did to stop the horrors of Reconstruction; I stand corrected. —Christina, Audible Editor

Publisher's summary

The #1 New York Times bestseller and New York Times Book Review 10 Best Books of 2017

“Eminently readable but thick with import . . . Grant hits like a Mack truck of knowledge.”—Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic

Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Chernow returns with a sweeping and dramatic portrait of one of our most compelling generals and presidents, Ulysses S. Grant.

Ulysses S. Grant's life has typically been misunderstood. All too often he is caricatured as a chronic loser and an inept businessman, or as the triumphant but brutal Union general of the Civil War. But these stereotypes don't come close to capturing him, as Chernow shows in his masterful biography, the first to provide a complete understanding of the general and president whose fortunes rose and fell with dizzying speed and frequency.

Before the Civil War, Grant was flailing. His business ventures had ended dismally, and despite distinguished service in the Mexican War he ended up resigning from the army in disgrace amid recurring accusations of drunkenness. But in war, Grant began to realize his remarkable potential, soaring through the ranks of the Union army, prevailing at the battle of Shiloh and in the Vicksburg campaign, and ultimately defeating the legendary Confederate general Robert E. Lee. Along the way, Grant endeared himself to President Lincoln and became his most trusted general and the strategic genius of the war effort. Grant’s military fame translated into a two-term presidency, but one plagued by corruption scandals involving his closest staff members.

More important, he sought freedom and justice for black Americans, working to crush the Ku Klux Klan and earning the admiration of Frederick Douglass, who called him “the vigilant, firm, impartial, and wise protector of my race.” After his presidency, he was again brought low by a dashing young swindler on Wall Street, only to resuscitate his image by working with Mark Twain to publish his memoirs, which are recognized as a masterpiece of the genre.

With lucidity, breadth, and meticulousness, Chernow finds the threads that bind these disparate stories together, shedding new light on the man whom Walt Whitman described as “nothing heroic... and yet the greatest hero.” Chernow’s probing portrait of Grant's lifelong struggle with alcoholism transforms our understanding of the man at the deepest level. This is America's greatest biographer, bringing movingly to life one of our finest but most underappreciated presidents. The definitive biography, Grant is a grand synthesis of painstaking research and literary brilliance that makes sense of all sides of Grant's life, explaining how this simple Midwesterner could at once be so ordinary and so extraordinary.

Named one of the best books of the year by Goodreads • Amazon • The New York Times • Newsday BookPage Barnes and Noble • Wall Street Journal

©2017 Ron Chernow (P)2017 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

“This is a good time for Ron Chernow’s fine biography of Ulysses S. Grant to appear . . . As history, it is remarkable, full of fascinating details sure to make it interesting both to those with the most cursory knowledge of Grant’s life and to those who have read his memoirs or any of several previous biographies . . . For all its scholarly and literary strengths, this book’s greatest service is to remind us of Grant’s significant achievements at the end of the war and after, which have too long been overlooked and are too important today to be left in the dark . . . As Americans continue the struggle to defend justice and equality in our tumultuous and divisive era, we need to know what Grant did when our country’s very existence hung in the balance. If we still believe in forming a more perfect union, his steady and courageous example is more valuable than ever.”—Bill Clinton, New York Times Book Review

Grant is vast and panoramic in ways that history buffs will love. Books of its caliber by writers of Chernow’s stature are rare, and this one qualifies as a major event . . . . Chernow is clearly out to find undiscovered nobility in his story, and he succeeds; he also finds uncannily prescient tragedy. There are ways in which Grant’s times eerily resemble our own . . . Indispensable.”—The New York Times

“Chernow tells all this rapidly and well; his talent is suited to Grant’s story . . . He is extraordinarily good on what could be called, unpejoratively, the Higher Gossip of History—he can uncannily detect the actual meaning beneath social interactions . . . Fluent and intelligent.”—Adam Gopnik, New Yorker