The best books on the life of Ulysses S. Grant

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve written ten books, four of them prize-winning best sellers, but this is my first book on the Civil War. Fortunately, it’s been generously received. The Wall Street Journal declared it “an epic story” and “rattling good history,” while Pulitzer Prize-winning James M. McPherson declared it “the fullest and best history of the Vicksburg campaign.“ Another Pulitzer receipient, David Blight, praised it for its “sizzling and persuasive prose. Miller has found the way,” he said, “to write both military and emancipation history in one profound package.”


I wrote...

Vicksburg: Grant's Campaign That Broke the Confederacy

By Donald L. Miller,

Book cover of Vicksburg: Grant's Campaign That Broke the Confederacy

What is my book about?

This is the story of the epic Union campaign that recaptured the Mississippi River in the summer of 1863 and elevated Grant to command of all Union armies. Grant captured an entire rebel army at Vicksburg the day after Meade defeated Lee at Gettysburg, and he smashed beyond repair the slave oligarchy in Mississippi, freeing over 100,000 slaves, and putting 26,000 of them in Union blue. In his Personal Memoirs, he called Vicksburg the most important campaign of the war.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant

Donald L. Miller Why did I love this book?

Grant gives us his own military story in his luminous Personal Memoirs. A literary masterwork, it remains the essential work on the pre-presidential Grant, the struggling civilian, and the successful general. Not to be missed is the new, heavily anointed edition prepared by historian John E. Marszalek and his team of researchers at the Ulysses S. Grant Association’s U. S. Grant Presidential Library at Mississippi State University.

By John F. Marszalek, Ulysses S. Grant,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"This fine volume leaps straight onto the roster of essential reading for anyone even vaguely interested in Grant and the Civil War. The book is deeply researched, but it introduces its scholarship with a light touch that never interferes with the reader's enjoyment of Grant's fluent narrative."-Ron Chernow, author of Grant

Ulysses S. Grant's memoirs, sold door-to-door by former Union soldiers, were once as ubiquitous in American households as the Bible. Mark Twain, Gertrude Stein, Henry James, and Edmund Wilson hailed them as great literature, and countless presidents, including Clinton and George W. Bush, credit Grant with influencing their own…


Book cover of Grant Moves South

Donald L. Miller Why did I love this book?

The war’s greatest military historian takes on its greatest military figure in Bruce Catton’s spirited two-volume classic: Grant Moves South and Grant Takes Command. Written decades ago, these paired volumes remain the finest historical account of Grant’s triumphant Civil War career. In the opening volume, we meet the recently minted brigadier in September 1861 as he prepares to join his army at desolate Cairo, Illinois, having just recovered from a succession of crushing personal failures. In the concluding volume, we leave him at Petersburg Virginia in April 1865, after he demolishes R. E. Lee’s army in the climactic battle of the war. Wannabe revisionists think Catton is outdated. Don’t believe them.

By Bruce Catton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Grant Moves South as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the first part of the military biography of Ulysses S. Grant and follows Grant from the summer of 1861 when he takes on his first Civil War command through battles at Belmont, Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Corinth and Vicksburg to the summer of 1863. The author has used letters, diaries and despatches in order to provide a rounded picture of this general's personality. "Grant Takes Command" forms the second part of this biography.


Book cover of Campaigning with Grant

Donald L. Miller Why did I love this book?

Horace Porter’s Campaigning With Grant is exactly that—a close-up, “you are there” account of Grant’s titanic campaign against Lee, as seen through the eyes of one of the General-in-Chief’s most trusted military aides. Captain (later General) Porter worshipped his commander and presents him here without disabling flaws. But in flowing prose, he gives us a richly-realized portrait of the general as he commands with authority in the field, and later in the day, meets informally with his young staff—his military family— around a blazing fire in front of his headquarters at City Point, Virginia, just outside besieged Petersburg. On several occasions, Lincoln slips down by steamer from Washington to confer with Grant and joins the fireside conclaves. Seated on a low campstool, dressed all in black, he stretches out and expounds, with surprising erudition, upon military ordnance before capping the evening with hilarious tales of his Illinois youth.

Porter gives a graphic description of City Point, and that’s important. A tiny steamboat stop on the James River in 1861, it was transformed by Grant’s logistics staff into a gigantic shipping and supply center for the eastern army. Its harbor was one of the busiest on the continent, and from a cramped two-room wooden hut on a high bluff overlooking the harbor Grant directs the Union war effort—all of it, the fighting in every theater—a feat made possible by the miracle of telegraphy.

By Horace Porter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Campaigning with Grant as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Horace Porter (1837-1921) graduated from West Point in 1860 and was skilled enough to rise through the ranks of the Union army to become a brigadier general during the Civil War. Porter also won the Medal of Honor for rallying troops at the Battle of Chickamauga, allowing wagon trains and guns to escape. But Porter is remembered today for his service during the last year of the war, becoming one of the staff members for General Ulysses S. Grant. Porter earned the general’s admiration and ended up being President Grant’s chief of staff. Porter later wrote a captivating account in…


Book cover of Ulysses S. Grant; His Life and Character

Donald L. Miller Why did I love this book?

Published in 1898 and now largely forgotten, this book is the only oral history we have of Grant. Garland, a substantial nineteenth-century literary figure, spent two years locating and interviewing people who knew Grant—generals and privates, family and neighbors in St. Louis and Galena, Illinois. Grant was a self-enclosed man, but he opened up to those he knew and trusted. It would be impossible to write a reliable life study of him without consulting Garland’s superb biography, or reading the transcripts of his interviews, which can be found in his papers at the University of Southern California’s Doheny Memorial Library.

By Hamlin Garland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ulysses S. Grant; His Life and Character as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and…


Book cover of U. S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth

Donald L. Miller Why did I love this book?

Grant has a host of outstanding modern biographers, among them Brooks D. Simpson, Ron Chernow, and Jean Edward Smith. While not a full-scale life study, Joan's book is indispensable. A rich blend of biography and cultural history, it imaginatively integrates Grant’s military and political careers and offers a timely and provocative treatment of the man’s image and memory. A pleasure to read, it is vivid, concise, and alive with fresh thinking. If you’re approaching Grant for the first time, read his Memoirs and then pick up a copy of Waugh’s outstanding book.

By Joan Waugh,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked U. S. Grant as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the time of his death, Ulysses S. Grant was the most famous person in America, considered by most citizens to be equal in stature to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Yet today his monuments are rarely visited, his military reputation is overshadowed by that of Robert E. Lee, and his presidency is permanently mired at the bottom of historical rankings. In an insightful blend of biography and cultural history, Joan Waugh traces Grant's shifting national and international reputation, illuminating the role of memory in our understanding of American history. Using a wide range of written and visual sources--newspaper articles,…


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Creativity, Teaching, and Natural Inspiration

By Mark Doherty,

Book cover of Creativity, Teaching, and Natural Inspiration

Mark Doherty Author Of Creativity, Teaching, and Natural Inspiration

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a highly experienced outdoorsman, musician, songwriter, and backcountry guide who chose teaching as a day job. As a writer, however, I am a promoter of creative and literary nonfiction, especially nonfiction that features a thematic thread, whether it be philosophical, conservation, historical, or even unique experiential. The thread I used for thirty years of teaching high school and honors English was the thread of Conservation, as exemplified by authors like Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Edward O. Wilson, Al Gore, Henry David Thoreau, as well as many other more contemporary authors.

Mark's book list on creative nonfiction books that entertain and teach through threaded essays and stories

What is my book about?

I have woven numerous delightful and descriptive true life stories, many from my adventures as an outdoorsman and singer songwriter, into my life as a high school English teacher. I think you'll find this work both entertaining as well as informative, and I hope you enjoy the often lighthearted repartee and dialogue that enhances the stories and experiences.

When I started teaching in the early 1990s, I brought into the classroom with me my passions for nature, folk music, and creativity. This book holds something new and engaging with every chapter and can be enjoyed by all sorts of readers, particularly those who enjoy nonfiction that employs wit, wisdom, humor, and even some down-to-earth philosophy.

Creativity, Teaching, and Natural Inspiration

By Mark Doherty,

What is this book about?

Creativity, Teaching, and Natural Inspiration follows the evolution of a high school English teacher as he develops a creative and innovative teaching style despite being juxtaposed against a public education system bent on didactic, normalizing regulations and political demands. Doherty crafts an engaging nonfiction story that utilizes memoir, anecdote, poetry, and dialogue to explore how mixing creativity and pedagogy can change the way budding students visualize creative writing: A chunk of firewood plunked on a classroom table becomes part of a sawmill, a mine timber, an Anasazi artifact...it also becomes a poem, a song, an essay, and a memoir. The…


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Interested in Ulysses S. Grant, the American Civil War, and presidential biography?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Ulysses S. Grant, the American Civil War, and presidential biography.

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