David W. Blight is Class of 1954 Professor of American History at Yale and the author of many books, including Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory and American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era. His biography of Frederick Douglass, Prophet of Freedom, will be published in October. (May 2018)

IN THE REVIEW

The Silent Type

Ulysses S. Grant and his family, Long Branch, New Jersey, 1870

Grant

by Ron Chernow

The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant: The Complete Annotated Edition

edited by John F. Marszalek, with David S. Nolen and Louie P. Gallo
For a century and a half Ulysses S. Grant has been a baffling and inspiring presence in the American literary and historical imaginations. Born in 1822 and raised by a pious Methodist mother, as a young man he was quiet, given to depressions, and lacking much ambition. Only his love of horses seemed to animate him and give him a reason to excel in his education at West Point, which his scheming father desired for him more than he did. In his thirties, he was a complete failure, at times a drunkard, destined to die forgotten. He found his vocation and success on America’s killing fields; his meteoric trajectory in the Civil War makes him a remarkable case of a nobody who became almost everything.