April 27, 1822 – Birth of Ulysses S. Grant and Review of “Grant” by Ron Chernow

Chernow’s book follows closely on the heels of a similarly weighty biography by Ronald C. White. The question is, why do we need two new books of this depth? The answer is: both have the goal of “rehabilitating” Grant’s reputation from its historical downward slide, but each has a slightly different emphasis. Chernow’s book is more thorough [in the audio version, 38 compact discs unabridged versus 22] and is less complimentary to Grant. Nevertheless, it seems clear Chernow would agree with White that Grant’s diminished reputation is not commensurate with his great achievements for the nation, nor with the magnanimity of Grant’s character. White is less focused on explaining why Grant’s reputation has receded over time, and more on setting forth a new way to evaluate him. Chernow not only provides more historical context for Grant’s life, but frequently interjects theories as to the reasons why Grant’s reputation…

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