The best Ulysses S. Grant books 📚

Browse the best books on Ulysses S. Grant as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Grant

Grant

By Ron Chernow

Why this book?

I was fifteen the first time I went through U. S. Grant’s house in Galena, Illinois. I’ve been there two or three times since and what stands out most to me is the copies of his memoirs they have on display. One look at them, made me rush out and buy a first edition.

Papers and politicians relished telling stories about Grant’s drinking. Many people believed it, but Abraham Lincoln wasn’t fooled. He understood that Ulysses S. Grant was the indispensable man. When other generals stopped to rest on their laurels, Grant raced forward, ever-ready to fight another battle. Lincoln…

From the list:

The best books that capture the essence of the Civil War

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Book cover of The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant

The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant

By John F. Marszalek, Ulysses S. Grant

Why this book?

Grant’s book is deservingly celebrated as the best presidential book, even if it's mostly a work of military history. Still, my favorite parts are the character descriptions. They show a surprising side of Grant: as a reader, he was America’s first full-blown fiction-loving president, and his obsession with novels clearly influenced his own writing. If you have the Library of America edition, you can quickly turn to the book’s sketch of Lincoln (page 469), which captures that president’s graciousness, and the sketch of Robert E. Lee (page 732), which captures Grant’s.

From the list:

The best books written by American presidents

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Book cover of Grant Moves South

Grant Moves South

By Bruce Catton

Why 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…

From the list:

The best books on the life of Ulysses S. Grant

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Book cover of Campaigning with Grant

Campaigning with Grant

By Horace Porter

Why 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…

From the list:

The best books on the life of Ulysses S. Grant

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

Ulysses S. Grant; His Life and Character

By Hamlin Garland

Why 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.

From the list:

The best books on the life of Ulysses S. Grant

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

U. S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth

By Joan Waugh

Why this book?

There are so many fantastic new biographies of Ulysses S. Grant. U.S. Grant is particularly good for a one-volume biography. It’s an incredibly fair treatment and does a great job of showing Grant’s cultural importance as a symbol for national reunification after the war. Waugh also demonstrates why Grant has been underappreciated by previous historians and generations, and why he deserves more recognition.

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The best books about American presidents

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