Why Grant?” William S. McFeely asked rhetorically in the introduction to his 1981 biography of the Union Army general-in-chief and eighteenth President of the United States. Somewhere around 120 Grant biographies had already been published by then. Twenty years later, Jean Edward Smith stated (in the preface to his own eponymously titled Grant biography) that the number was by then up to 134. Writing in a 2012 review of yet another entry, the Columbia University historian Eric Foner noted that “no fewer than seven [Grant] biographies” had appeared since Smith’s tally in 2001. Extrapolating from these figures, it would appear that Ronald C. White, Jr.’s American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant is at least the one hundred forty-second Grant biography, raising yet again McFeely’s essential question: “Why Grant?” Do we really need another Grant...

 

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