Coming this fall: Grant by Ron Chernow

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StephenColbert27

First Sergeant
Read more here.
"Ron Chernow, the historian who helped inspire the musical "Hamilton," has a biography of Ulysses S. Grant coming out in October...

Penguin Press is calling the book "Grant" and plans to release it Oct. 17, the publisher told The Associated Press on Wednesday. Chernow's previous book, "Washington: A Life," won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011. His 2004 work on Alexander Hamilton was the basis for Lin-Manuel Miranda's Tony Award-winning Broadway smash, for which Chernow served as historical consultant.

Chernow's new book will likely be the most high-profile effort yet to change the reputation of the country's 18th president. As Penguin noted in its press release, Grant has been "caricatured as a chronic loser and inept businessman," a drunk whose Civil War heroism was overshadowed by his legacy as a "credulous and hapless president whose tenure came to symbolize the worst excesses of the Gilded Age.""

Clearly the book will continue the recent trend of rehabilitating Grant's reputation that began in the 60's. As someone who has read and gotten a lot out of both Chernow's books on Washington and Hamilton, I look forward to this volume on Grant with anticipation of a good, well-researched, and fair biography, especially in regards to his actions as Chief Executive.
 

Bruce Vail

1st Lieutenant
Joined
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Chernow has a reputation of taking tarnished historical figures and trying to make them seem not so bad -- most notably J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller.

His book on George Washington won a Pulitzer Prize, so I guess he has upped his game in recent years.
 
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Drew

Major
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Oct 22, 2012
I look forward to this volume on Grant with anticipation of a good, well-researched, and fair biography,
You lost me here. I suppose it will be 'fair' when U.S. Grant walks on water. Nothing else will do, eh?

I'll withhold judgement until we see the actual book. Thanks for posting it.
 

StephenColbert27

First Sergeant
You lost me here. I suppose it will be 'fair' when U.S. Grant walks on water. Nothing else will do, eh?

I'll withhold judgement until we see the actual book. Thanks for posting it.
This is true; I was stating opinion without direct evidence. I am basing it upon the other two books the author has written on Washington and Hamilton, both of which I thought did a good job of showing the strengths of the two men while not shying away from their weaknesses. While I should admit my bias, in that I admire Grant, he was far from a perfect individual, and made several mistakes throughout his life (as General and President), some of which are inexcusable. This I freely confess. However, with this book, I am more interested in what Chernow has to say about his presidency.
 
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Drew

Major
Joined
Oct 22, 2012
with this book, I am more interested in what Chernow has to say about his presidency.
It may be interesting, for sure. I've got Chernow's work on Rockefeller, noted above. It's entertaining, but it's really just that, entertainment.

I'll await his book on Grant with guarded optimism, but the very idea of anyone jockeying over $100 theatre tickets to see how truly wonderful he was makes me shudder.

Like I said, optimism is the best course here.
 
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StephenColbert27

First Sergeant
It may be interesting, for sure. I've got Chernow's work on Rockefeller, noted above. It's entertaining, but it's really just that, entertainment.

I'll await his book on Grant with guarded optimism, but the very idea of anyone jockeying over $100 theatre tickets to see how truly wonderful he was makes me shudder.

Like I said, optimism is the best course here.
I will defer to your judgement on his book on Rockefeller, since I have not read it. Other than that, agreed. However, I will say that rapping does not quite seem Grant's style. :tongue:
 

Dave Wilma

2nd Lieutenant
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Location
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I am reading Ron White's American Ulysses and have read Jean Edward Smith's Grant. I would like to look at Rose's book, Grand Under Fire. Four books all with recent scholarship.
 
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Bruce Vail

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You lost me here. I suppose it will be 'fair' when U.S. Grant walks on water. Nothing else will do, eh?

I'll withhold judgement until we see the actual book. Thanks for posting it.
I am betting that Chernow's book will reflect the most recent movement to rehabilitate Grant's reputation, which seemed to peak right around the time he signed the book contract.

This is very tiresome, in my own admittedly prejudiced view. Grant was certainly a great General (a general's job is to win battles, after all) but his presidential administration was a disgrace. You can't polish that turd no matter how hard you try...
 

Dave Wilma

2nd Lieutenant
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Location
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his presidential administration was a disgrace. You can't polish that turd no matter how hard you try...
I wonder if the appraisal of Grant's presidency isn't influenced by the fact he was Grant. While the Lost Cause was building up Lee and tearing down Longstreet having the man who beat them also torn down suited their narrative. How did the administration measure up to the next five presidencies or the one preceding it? Not so bad I'm thinking.
 
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Joshism

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Chernow's biography of Washington is outstanding so hopefully his Grant biography will be too. (Hamilton is still To Read.) He gave a very human look at Washington, a man much of our country has long deified. So I too would think he will give Grant a fair shake.

That said, we sure seem to have gotten alot of general biographies of Grant in recent years. Seems excessive. How many of these biographies really have something new to say on the subject?

At least the Grant-Jews and Grant-Rosecrans books tried to really focus on particular aspects of his life that had not gotten much attention.
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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When books on historical figures I do not care for are released, I just do not read them. Seems a waste of time plus would irritate me.

I don't know. So what, if there are a few authors intent on dredging History for Grant's body and an autopsy? It kind of feels like, instead of an effort to rehabilitate Grant's image, prowling cemeteries with a flashlight and a hammer, to see which coffins may have the lids beginning to be pried off.
 
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Bruce Vail

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I wonder if the appraisal of Grant's presidency isn't influenced by the fact he was Grant. While the Lost Cause was building up Lee and tearing down Longstreet having the man who beat them also torn down suited their narrative. How did the administration measure up to the next five presidencies or the one preceding it? Not so bad I'm thinking.
Absolutely true that Grant's reputation as president suffered from a lot of Lost Cause nonsense, but even Grant's best friends were reduced to blaming his political naivete and faithless associates for the many mistakes of his presidency.

There have been numerous attempts to rehabilitate Grant's presidential years over the generations. They've all failed -- for good reason.
 
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DanSBHawk

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Grant is a fascinating and historically significant person... I have no problem with additional books written about him, and look forward to this one. Thanks for the heads-up.

I don't think the merits or demerits of his presidency are settled. We tend to judge things like civil rights, and racism, and the rights of Native Americans, and expansionism, through modern filters. The perceptions of these things are changing even now. On the other hand, the corruption by others during his administration was more symptomatic of that whole gilded-age time. It doesn't really mean as much now in terms of judging his presidency accurately.

I think his presidential terms will continue to be re-evaluated, and that's fine.
 

KansasFreestater

1st Lieutenant
And will we have another musical? Somehow "Ulysses S Grant" doesn't have the rhythm of "Alexander Hamilton"!
It would be pretty ironic if there were a musical about Grant, since the man himself had a brain that couldn't even process music!

But, oh, how I'd love to see a movie that would do for Ulysses Grant what Spielberg's Lincoln did for Abraham Lincoln. Spielberg was inspired by Doris Kearns Goodwin's book about Lincoln. Maybe some superstar director will be inspired by Chernow's book about Grant?? I'm sure hoping so.
 
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