Best biography of Ulysses S. Grant?

David Moore

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Good luck to anyone trying to find a recommendation of good Grant biographies in all this.

Could we create a separate thread for debunking Grant, so that people can get what they think they'll get from the title of the thread?
There actually were quite a number of biographies mentioned. Good biography doesn't necessarily mean not critical of Grant.
 

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Lnwlf

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Good luck to anyone trying to find a recommendation of good Grant biographies in all this.
Could we create a separate thread for debunking Grant, so that people can get what they think they'll get from the title of the thread?
(borrowed this from Canadian, and gave it red to make it official)

You have been warned.

Posted as Moderator
 
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"There is no doubt that Rose did exhaustive research while writing this book. He pulled from hundreds, if not thousands, of manuscripts, newspapers, government and official publications, unpublished dissertations, books, articles, and Internet resources; a daunting feat for any historian. However, it is clear that his research did not shape his conclusion; instead, his conclusion shaped his research."

Louis Gallo
Mississippi State University
https://muse.jhu.edu/article/629440
Sounds exactly like the Joe Rose I argued with in Yahoo groups for years.
 
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Ned Baldwin wrote his review before he even finished reading Frank Varney's book. I think he now says he did finish the book but most people would say one should write the review after having read the book in question.
If a book is obviously a piece of trash after reading half of it I see no problem calling it for what it is.

Baldwin also said he might have to write "multiple blogs to show how bad it is." To my knowledge he hasn't done that either.
I wrote two more on the topic. Are you really craving that I wrote more about how atrocious it is?

***Edited***
 
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I also have to say I believe there is a group dedicated to stopping any negative commentary about USG on any online CW fora. (Ned Baldwin attacked Varney on Brett Schulte’s blog. Al Mackey (Cash) attacked me first -without having read my book- on his blog. The point isn’t whether the criticism was valid but that it was almost immediate without being fully familiar with the books in question. They have every right to do that but it suggests a defend Grant at all costs strategy that inevitably leads to circular arguments and ad hominem attacks because no possiblity of someone criticizing Grant is tolerated.
I believe there is a group dedicated to pushing negative commentary about USG who will resort to shoddy scholarship and attacks on people like me.

I tolerate criticism of Grant, I dont tolerate crappy scholarship. I even consider myself a critic of Grant - did anyone read my blog series on Grant and he Red River campaign?
 

bdtex

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"I am looking to find a good biography of U.S. Grant. I am not a big fan of Ron Chernow because I don't trust his objectivity. Anyone have some suggestions?"

That is the OP that started this thread. The member who posted it has been a member of CivilWarTalk for 12 days. How about simply responding to his question with the best biography of U.S. Grant in your opinion and stop criticizing other responders' opinions. 2 Moderator warnings have been posted and 98 posts have been deleted. Threadbans are next.
 
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Sort of the point. This is the "baby with the bathwater" fallacy. The question should be did Maury write that? If so then what the critic has found is a typo. It is and it is. To declare there is nothing of value over a typo is showing ones bias. One is seeking any reason to dismiss the work, and typos will do.

However, Varney's thesis that Grant systematically manipulated the records to paint himself in a better light is widely accepted, if not usually called into focus.
Maury wrote multiple things about the event in question. The author quoted one of those things, yet attributed it as something else, footnoted an unrelated source and didnt include the actual source in the bibliography though the bibliography did include another Maury source that said something different. To say that this is just an inadvertent result of typing errors strains credibility; its not a typo, its shoddy work. And its not an isolated event. Throughout the book the documentation and sourcing is poor.

Secondly, the multiple things Maury wrote about the event arent consistent (for example compare his 1872 article with his 1894 memoirs as I did in the blog post) or accurate (for example, the quote Varney uses says "we got back to Tupelo", though in fact Maury and his command did not go to Tupelo after Iuka). Yet Varney provides us with absolutely no analysis about these differences or inaccuracies in what Maury wrote. Instead he presents it as fact and uses it to offset his opinion of what Grant wrote - the Maury quote is followed by "In contrast, much of what Grant said about the battle of Iuka was false." This is indicative of the poor analysis in the book.

The thesis of history book should be based on solid documentation and sensible analysis. If those things are no good, then the thesis is no good either. Thus your allegation of the "baby with the bathwater" doesn't apply because once the documentation and analysis are tossed out, there is no "baby". What shows bias is the attitude that documentation and analysis are irrelevant as long as the thesis is appealing.
 
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I am looking to find a good biography of U.S. Grant. I am not a big fan of Ron Chernow because I don't trust his objectivity. Anyone have some suggestions?
You have been very badly served in the convoluted answers to your question, and I apologize (because of my national character, perhaps..).
I’m no expert but I hope others will chime in with just the facts.

Brooks D. Simpson is widely recognized for his biography of Grant’s early years, Triumph Over Adversity. It’s succinct and authoritative, very readable, not a hagiography as some claim. His volume on the later years is eagerly awaited.

On the longer side is American Ulysses by Ronald C. White. It happened to be the first full biography I read of Grant, and White did a good job of bringing him to life without trying to psychoanalise him.

H.W. Brands wrote an interesting book on the years between the war and Grant’s Presidency, Let Us Have Peace.

Jean Edward Smith wrote a good biography called Grant.

On the Presidency Charles W. Calhoun came out with The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant less than a year ago.

I’m also rather fond of a book written in the 1990s by a lawyer named Frank Scaturro, President Grant Reconsidered, which does a terrific job of cutting through some of the horse manure commonly believed about Grant.

MvFeely’s biography Grant came out in 1991. Although he won a Pulitzer Prize the book has been criticized for being too negative about Grant, and some have attributed that to the anti war sentiment in the wake of the Vietnam War.

I’m sure I’ve left something out.
 

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Has anyone read the Grant book by Jean Edward Smith. I found a copy at a thrift store for a dollar. Too good to pass it up but I haven't read any of it yet. Anyone have an opinion on this one.
 

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Joshism

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If McFeely was really so obviously problematic suppression would be unnecessary.
What is obviously problematic to an experienced academic or amateur Grant buff may not be obviously problematic to a casual reader.

If a book did not get published by a major publisher, there are probably some defects that the publisher was not willing to fix.
Or the topic is simply too obscure for a publisher to find it worthwhile. But for a figure of Grant's stature, anything that no major academic or general publisher wants to touch either has already been said or isn't worth saying (probably because it's wrong).
 
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I wonder if any other historical figure invites as much vitriol as Grant does.
I am absolutely astonished by it. I have been paying more attention to Grant this month for a couple of reasons, including a road trip that went through Galena and some prep work for the upcoming school year, and it has really hit me unexpectedly smack in the face. I wonder how many Americans, with our casual understanding of the Civil War and its figures, realize it. As a mostly-lurker here, I'm indebted (again) to this forum for further enlarging my knowledge. I think it's important for us teachers to make sure students realize these debates are still fiercely alive so many years after all these people are dead.
 

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