One of the Best Books Available on the Civil War : This book will keep you turning the pages from end to end. Despite its bulk you simply cant put the book down, as Grants matter-of-fact description of the events that surrounded him was completely engrossing.
Grant was not an extraordinary man or brilliant tactician, his soldiers did not have the same obsession with him that the South held for Lee, he simply saw the war for what it was, a campaign against a rebellion. He looked at the entire war in its entirety, from battlefront to battlefront, and he repeatedly used that to his advantage. Many times he makes reference to deploying troops to no clear end other than to occupy an enemies flank, this often as a junior with no authority over the battle as a whole. Grant was a man of action, who realized he had to take a step in order to walk a mile. He took the battle to the enemy, divised clear and necessary steps which were needed to win the war as a whole. He was a general who did not just see the war as independent sets of battles, but saw those battles as a means to ending the Civil War.
One of my favorite parts of the text was watching the scope of Grants vision widen. Starting with his actions in the Mexican American War his vision is very limited: he sees only the immediate battle, and his descriptions focus on minutiae reflecting his low rank. His vision escalates with his rank, until the end of the book, with the surrender of Lee, he sees and describes the entire army, and battles that would have once taken chapters to described are now dismissed in single sentences.
I wish that there were similar autobiographies by other presidents, and certainly feel that this one elevated my expectations of all other autobiographies!
It is men who wait to be selected, and not those who seek, from whom we may always expect the most efficient service. - Grant
All he wanted or had ever wanted was some one who would take the responsibility and act, and call on him for all the assistance needed, pledging himself to use all the power of the government in rendering such assistance. - Grant on Lincoln
Wars product many stories of fiction, some of which are told until they are believed to be true. - Grant
To maintain peace in the future it is necessary to be prepared for war. - Grant
The war begot a spirit of independence and enterprise. The feeling now is, that a youth must cut loose from his old surroundings to enable him to get up in the world. - Grant
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