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Sun Dec 24, 2017, 11:54 AM

Bill Clinton's book review of Chernow's "Grant."

I have long felt that the Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant, often rated by academic historians as disastrous and failed, needs serious reassessment, which happily is now going on, particularly at a time when we have a "President" who is actually worse than Andrew Johnson, one of the worst Presidents ever, who was impeached but not convicted.

I happen to believe that Ulysses S. Grant was a great President, the second most important President of the 19th century, responsible for one of the most important and necessary changes to the US Constitution, the 15th amendment, which happily was recently responsible for the election of Doug Jones in Alabama.

It is very unlikely that the country would have survived at all without Grant's Presidency; without him the Union victory in the Civil War would have been undone as the country lapsed into continuous guerrilla warfare.

The reassessment of the Grant's Presidency is well underway - the low ranking having been fostered on historians by an odd coalition of overt racist "lost cause" advocates and self described "reformers" - and is being advanced at an increasing pace, something that satisfies me personally very much, as I have long admired President Grant.

I wrote about my admiration of Grant elsewhere a long time ago: US Grant and the Worst President Stuff (2007)

The second President to be impeached but not convicted, and who was actually quite a good President, is of course, Bill Clinton, and interestingly, he has reviewed Ron Chernow's best selling book on the 18th President of the United States.

NY Times Book Review of Cherow's "Grant" by Bill Clinton

Clinton writes:

The Union that Grant had been instrumental in saving as a general was splintering anew even before he took his oath of office. As Chernow writes, “If there were many small things Grant didn’t know about the presidency, he knew one big thing: His main mission was to settle unfinished business from the war by preserving the Union and safeguarding the freed slaves.”

And there was a very real chance Grant, and with him the country, would fail.

For that new mission, Grant needed cabinet members, staff and advisers every bit as masterful as his wartime lieutenants. His choices were notably hit-and-miss, but his very first appointee from a Confederate state proved to be one of his best. Amos T. Akerman of Georgia, Grant’s second attorney general, was “honest and incorruptible” and “devoted to the rule of law.” When Congress created the Department of Justice the same week as his appointment, the attorney general became overnight the head of “an active department with a substantial array of new powers.” Those powers were sorely needed to fight the Klan and what Chernow appropriately calls “the worst outbreak of domestic terrorism in American history.”...

...Chernow shows a fine balance in exposing Grant’s flaws and missteps as president, and the ill-fated turn that Reconstruction took after a promising start, while making it clear that Grant’s contributions after Appomattox were as consequential to the survival of our democracy as any that came before. As Americans continue the struggle to defend justice and equality in our tumultuous and divisive era, we need to know what Grant did when our country’s very existence hung in the balance. If we still believe in forming a more perfect union, his steady and courageous example is more valuable than ever.

I almost agree.


In these times where racists are running wild in the Government, where corruption at a very high level is taking place, where the Government is being bankrupted by wealthy scammers and their collaborators, I think Chernow's book is very important.

I've asked Santa to buy it for me, and will be waiting up all night at the Christmas tree to yank that book out of the fat Elf's sack.

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Reply Bill Clinton's book review of Chernow's "Grant." (Original post)
NNadir Dec 2017 OP
octoberlib Feb 2018 #1
FSogol Jul 2018 #2

Response to NNadir (Original post)

Sun Feb 4, 2018, 12:48 PM

1. This has been on my reading list since

it came out. Thanks for the post.

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Tue Jul 3, 2018, 01:14 PM

2. I'm a little more than half-way thru this book. Grant was way ahead of his time

Highly recommend.

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