Book Review: Insights from An Underappreciated Leader

April 1, 2019 11:01 AM

Ulysses S. Grant, Civil War hero and two-term president, presents biographers with a formidable challenge—false records and a path well-worn by previous chroniclers. Yet, Ron Chernow has masterfully sifted through copious sources to compile an even-handed account of a complex leader, in his book "Grant."

From his straightforward analysis of Grant’s alcohol problems to his repeatedly naïve relationships with patently corrupt friends, Chernow’s dispassionate words generate empathy for and disappointment in Grant as a leader and a man. That Grant is underappreciated as a president now seems clear, but even his stellar military record suffers from misunderstanding.

While Grant’s early life can make tedious reading, it formed the character of a truly pivotal American leader forever in the shadow of Lincoln and tasked with the daunting work of healing a broken nation. Grant’s overlooked legacy of civil rights, foreign policy and visionary decisions as a leader surprise as much as his abiding flaws as a man. His is an American story of importance and timeliness, well worth the investment this detailed masterpiece demands.



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