It is no surprise to Civil War students that Ulysses Grant’s reputation has soared over the last fifty years. During the past twenty years nearly all of his biographies have been favorable. They typically ignore, minimize, or deny his failings. Examples include those of Jean Smith, H. W. Brands, and Joan Waugh. Two more will apparently join the group later this year. One from Ron Chernow, who wrote the biography upon which the hit Broadway show Hamilton is based and the second will be Ronald White’s American Ulysses.
Nonetheless, several lesser-known authors have recently provided analyses that question Grant’s lofty reputation. They might persuade a venerable reader that Grant’s reputation, once too low, is presently too high. But a reader who first studied Grant in the past twenty-five years will be shocked and might infer that Grant’s reputation should be dropped to a new low.
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