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The Best Writings of Ulysses S. Grant

The Best Writings of Ulysses S. Grant

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Edited by John F. Marszalek


Hardcover (Other formats: E-book)
234 pages, 6 x 9, 20 illustrations

World of Ulysses S. Grant


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About the Book

Famous for his military acumen and for his part in saving the Union during the American Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant also remains known for his two-volume memoirs, considered among the greatest military memoirs ever written. Grant’s other writings, however, have not received the same acclaim, even though they show the same literary skill. Originally published in the thirty-two volumes of The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, the letters and speeches are the major source of information about Grant’s life and era and have played a key role in elevating his reputation to that of the leading general of the Civil War and the first of the modern presidents. In this collection, editor John F. Marszalek presents excerpts from Grant’s  most insightful and skillfully composed writings and provides perspective through introductory comments tying each piece to the next. The result is a fascinating overview of Grant’s life and career.

In sixteen chronological chapters, selections from Grant’s letters and other writings reveal his personal thoughts on the major events of his momentous life, including the start of the Civil War, the capture of Vicksburg, Lincoln’s reelection, Lee’s surrender, his terms as president, the Panic of 1873, and his bouts of mouth and throat cancer. Throughout, Grant’s prose reveals clearly the power of his words and his ability to present them well. Although some historians have maligned his presidency as one of the most corrupt periods in American history, these writings reinforce Grant’s greatness as a general, demonstrate the importance of his presidency, and show him to be one of the driving forces of the nineteenth century.

With this compendium, Marszalek not only celebrates the literary talent of one of America’s greatest military figures but also vindicates an individual who, for so long, has been unfairly denigrated. A concise reference for students of American history and Civil War enthusiasts as well as a valuable introduction for those who are new to Grant’s writings, this volume provides intriguing insight into one of the nineteenth century’s most important Americans.


John F. Marszalek is a Giles Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at Mississippi State University, the executive director of the Ulysses S. Grant Association's Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library, Mississippi State University, and the editor of The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant. He is the author or editor of sixteen books, including Sherman: A Soldier’s Passion for Order.


"This book is full of  enlightening anecdotes. The Best Writings of Ulysses S Grant is one of the finest volumes on the life and times of this great leader. It is well overdue and will be appreciated by students of the Civil War and Grant." —Command Sergeant Major James H. Clifford, USA-Ret, The Journal of Army History

“As admirers of Grant’s Personal Memoirs have long appreciated, the man's career was inseparable from his unusual command of the English language. In an expertly selected anthology of his letters, editor John F. Marszalek has captured the many moods and voices of Grant’s pithy writing—his wit, charm, grit, and wisdom as well as the aching pathos that often accompanied his outsize success. Whether dealing with the general, president, or simple family man, this compact and delightfully readable volume gives readers the essence of one of American history’s most original figures. I surrendered unconditionally to its appeal.”—Ron Chernow, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Washington: A Life

“The distinguished Civil War historian John Marszalek has drawn upon his deep understanding of the writings of U. S. Grant to present some of the most revealing—and in many cases, most appealing—passages from letters and other documents that span Grant’s life from youth to the brink of death. On view here is Grant not only as great military commander but also as adept political leader, defender of racial justice and American democracy, loyal friend, and loving family man. Altogether this book is a fine addition to the Grant literature.”—Charles W. Calhoun, author of From Bloody Shirt to Full Dinner Pail: The Transformation of Politics and Governance in the Gilded Age

“If Grant’s Personal Memoirs is the gold standard of presidential memoirs, his other writings have languished in obscurity for too long. No more. Who better to illuminate the larger library of Grant’s writings than John Marszalek? An eminent Civil War historian, and the managing editor of the Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, he provides an insightful narrative thread that guides readers to the varied prose of an American hero just now emerging from the shadows into a renewed light of appreciation.”—Ronald C. White Jr., author of A. Lincoln: A Biography

“This concise introduction to the writings of Ulysses S. Grant offers a rich glimpse into his public and private life, revealing a man more Americans deserve to know better.”—Brooks D. Simpson, ASU Foundation Professor of History, Arizona State University