Grant's Final Victory: Ulysses S. Grant's Heroic Last Year

Charles Bracelen Flood. Da Capo, $27.50 (284p) ISBN 978-0-306-82028-1
In 1884, the ex-president and ex-Union commander Ulysses S. Grant became bankrupt, having trusted his money to swindlers; soon after, he felt the first agonizing throat pain from the cancer that would kill him. Desperate to save his family from destitution, he wrote his memoirs, finishing days before his 1885 death. Veteran historian Flood (Lee: The Last Years) delivers a blow-by-blow narrative, full of colorful characters, accounts of earlier triumphs , and an upbeat ending. Grant's book became a critically acclaimed bestseller. Much credit goes to aggressive marketing by Mark Twain, who published the book and insisted on paying far more than the usual royalties. Inevitably, Grant's illness provoked an obsessive media deathwatch that seems very contemporary, plus innumerable tributes, honors, speeches, editorials, and letters from schoolchildren, admirers, and cranks. Liberal quotes from these as well as extensive flashbacks reveal Flood straining to fill the pages, but this is a moving if painful portrait of a dying national hero. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 06/27/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
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