Monday, October 01, 2012
The Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant
Thankfully, I discovered that Grant was as good an author as promised. His style was unadorned by any grand statements or flowery language, unlike some nineteenth century texts. He had a good story of importance to American readers and told it well. He did go into a bit more detail than I wanted in describing some battles, but this is precisely what will interest some other readers. I most enjoyed reading about the every day lives of soldiers in both the U.S.-Mexican War and the Civil War.
Grant's account of the War with Mexico is particularly interesting because he served alongside many men who would later be leaders of the Confederate forces. He even went mountain climbing with them during the quiet spells during the campaign to take Mexico City. Most of them had been at West Point together. His account referenced events of the next war, as he assessed the leadership qualities of these comrades.
I enjoy reading about places, and Grant granted me a view of early Texas which I enjoyed, my being a student who enjoyed a year of Texas history in junior high school. I also found descriptions of pre-Civil War Missouri very interesting - I visited some of the places when I worked in Columbia.
Volume one of the memoirs reports his military life through the conquest of Vicksburg in 1863. Volume two tells his story through the end of the Civil War. He does not write about his presidency in his memoirs. I read from The Library of America volume Grant: Memoirs and Selected Letters, which also adds a Grant chronology and the text of notes that Grant wrote to the doctor who nursed him through his final illness.
Grant, Ulysses S. Grant: Memoirs and Selected Letters. Library of America, 1990. 1199p. ISBN 0940450585.