Josiah Bunting III
Ulysses S. Grant.
Times Books (Henry Holt) 166 pages, $20

What are we to make of Ulysses S. Grant? At thirty-nine he was seen as a wash-out—no job, no money, forced resignation from the U.S. military after occasional drinking binges, nearly destitute with a dependent wife and four children, ex-junior officer, ex-farmer, ex-woodcutter, ex-real-estate agent, and at last, in 1860, a rumpled leather store clerk in Galena, Illinois. Historians would be hard pressed to ascertain whether Grant or Sherman was the greater prewar failure, both meeting nothing but setbacks almost in direct proportion to the degree that they continued to exhibit talent, honesty, and hard work. Yet a little less than three years later by Congressional decree Grant was appointed Lieutenant-General in command of all Union forces. A mere seven years after he left Galena, at age forty-six, Grant...

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