Ulysses S. Grant, The Unlikely Hero, by Michael Korda

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This biography of President Grant starts with a quote of his: “I read but few lives of great men because biographers do now, as a rule, tell enough about the formative period of life. What I want to konw is what a man did as a boy.”

Well, not me. I find the childhood parts of biographies pretty uninteresting. I like the parts about the interesting things these people did. And I have to say that it’s a good thing that this particular bio is only 150 pages long, because, as presidents go, Grant was not a particularly interesting one. He did some interesting things — was in the army, fought in Texas, got booted because of a drinking problem — and turned out to be a solid, if not brilliant Civil War general, helped mostly by the numerical superiority of the North — and was the president who presided over Reconstruction. But beyond that, not too much interesting about the man. Didn’t have a lot of his own political views, didn’t do much after his presidency. But I suppose you have to say that he cared a lot about healing the country after the Civil War, and took actions that certainly weren’t punitive, and probably went a long way towards making it one nation again.

Anyway, I don’t mean to sound like I didn’t like the book — it’s pretty well-written, and I read it in a day and a half — just tough, slightly mundane content to work with, in terms of presidential biographies. Next in the Boring Lives of Presidents Series: James K. Polk.

Just kidding.

2 Replies to “Ulysses S. Grant, The Unlikely Hero, by Michael Korda”

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