It would have been easy to wrap up my President’s week blog with a most deserving biography, Truman by David McCullough. Few could question that salute. However, Jean Edward Smith author of GRANT will get the honor of closing out President’s Week. Smith’s work is a remarkable eye opener and a re-evaluation of General in Chief Grant and President Grant.
Lovers of history understand that time often serves former presidents better than the present. Then again, history is not a science but rather observations of mortals. Smith’s full-scale biography of Grant sheds tremendous perspective regarding his accomplishments on the battlefield and as the first two term president since Andrew Jackson. The detailed study of Grant’s childhood and early life provide the framework for this great piece of historical writing.
I must admit that before tackling Grant I had somewhat of a dim view of his presidency based in great part upon popular conceptions. What Jean Edward Smith accomplished so well in this biography was to reconcile many of these popular views with the facts. As just one example, few would remember that following the disastrous Andrew Johnson term after Lincoln’s assassination, Grant did more to help Reconstruction than anyone and the same was true for his efforts to enforce constitutional freedoms to the newly freed slaves as American Citizens. In retrospect, Grant’s accomplishments as president are outlined as remarkable as his on the battlefield!
If you love American History, you will do yourself a great favor by heading for the library or Amazon. Not only is GRANT the story of his presidency but it is a battle by battle description of Grant’s skilful leadership during the Civil War. Jean Edward Smith is a scholar and you will come away from his book with a scholarly view of Grant at this important time and place in American History.