Grant’s Final Victory: Ulysses S. Grant’s Heroic Last Year
by Charles Bracelen Flood
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Da Capo Press (October 11, 2011)
U.S. Grant never lacked determination. He simply refused to accept being beaten. He always had the energy to keep trying. During the Civil War, these traits brought him command of the Federal Army. The Overland Campaign proved that Grant would go forward no matter the obstacles. While the casualties were appalling, Grant understood that prolonging the war would be worse. Vicksburg showed Grant had an inventive mind that could search for the key to victory. At Shiloh, Grant infused the spirit of victory into men tasting defeat.
After the war, Grant twice elected President, lead by example. His refusal to participate in charges of treason against ranking CSA officials saved America from more hate and bitterness. He firmly supported the Freemen and tried to protect their rights. On leaving office, the Grants toured the world. In every nation, cheering crowd meet them, heads of state entertain them. Grant collaborated with one of the smartest men on Wall Street. Their firm Grant & Ward was the envy of most firms. Ward had an uncanny ability to anticipate trends and always paid high dividends. Grant became wealthy. His family well taken care of with a secure future, Grant looked forward to a happy comfortable life. Ward embezzled, lied and stole. One day, the bottom fell out, Grant & Ward was bankrupt. Grant, his family and friends saw their saving disappear in less than a week. After a short introduction, the book starts with the Grants looking for change in their New York City mansion. They literally do not have money to buy necessities.
Most know the basic story; Grant starts writing for Centaury magazine. This leads to a book, Mark Twain forces a good contract. Grant wins his race with death to finish the book. The book is a best seller and Julia Grant lives well on the royalties for the rest of her life. The author shows how little we really know. In doing this, he instructs and entertains by making the reader part of the family. This book is part historical fact, part cancer treatment, part medicine, part personal reminisce, part publishing business, part writing and scheming. The author keeps all the parts in the right place. He never loses sight of what is important but keeps the trivial and incidental to bring the book alive. This serious history with endnotes, Bibliography and index reads like a good novel.
Without trying to contrast the 1880s with the present, we understand how much medicine has changed. We see the public Grant, not as we remember him. The respect and affection the public had for Grant is astounding. Veterans both North and South loved him. The public, at the very least respect him and most loved him. The description of his funeral, the largest public event in America at that time is excellent. We see both the public display, the competition among cities to bury him and the planning that went into this event.
This excellent book recreates Grant’s last year and that world. After reading this book, my first edition takes on a completely new meaning.