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Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant
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By Ulysses S. Grant

(Note: various editions available; Library of America edition recommended)

The origin of this work is as fascinating as the story told therein. After leaving the Presidency, U.S. Grant became a partner in a Wall Street firm but lost his fortune when another partner embezzled vast sums. Meanwhile, Mark Twain had been urging Grant to pen his memoirs, which Twain was sure would be a bestseller. Almost concurrently with starting this project, Grant was diagnosed with inoperable throat cancer. Working feverishly and despite great pain, the old general finished a day before he died.

The memoirs indeed did become a mega-hit of its age, restoring the Grant family's finances, and making Twain a handsome profit as publisher.

The focus of the book is on the Civil War from Grant's perspective as a field commander. His prose has been widely praised through the years for its clarity and directness. It primarily is of interest to people with interest in the battles themselves. However, the concluding chapter, in which Grant offers his own opinions on the origins of the conflict and the motivations of the contending parties, is perhaps the outstanding section.

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