24 Feb Book of the Week — Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant

E672-G67-1885-v.1-portrait

“‘Let us have peace.’ The expressions of these kindly feelings were not restricted to a section of the country, nor to a division of the people. They came from individual citizens of all nationalieties; from all denominations — the Protestant, the Catholic, and the Jew; and from the various societies of the land — scientific, educational, religious, or otherwise. Politics did not enter into the matter at all.”

PERSONAL MEMOIRS OF U. S. GRANT
Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885)
New York: C. L. Webster & Co., 1885-86
First edition
E672 G76 1885

E672-G76-1885-v.2-PortraitAn ineffectual, if not disastrous, president, ruined by bankruptcy after being defrauded of his estate, and dying of throat cancer, Ulysses S. Grant, Union hero of the American Civil War, agreed to publish his memoirs. He needed the money to try to secure an economically stable future for his family.

Samuel Clemens, whose pen name was Mark Twain, served as his editor. In the last month of his life, Grant struggled to dictate his notes to a stenographer and managed to finish his memoirs shortly before his death. For Clemens, witnessing the tenacity of the dying man, Grant became, once more, a heroic figure.

The memoirs focused almost entirely on the old general’s actions during the war. Still considered among the greatest of military memoirs, the two volume set became an immediate bestseller, praised for its high literary qualities. Grant’s style was straightforward and compelling. Clemens compared the book to Julius Caesar’s Commentaries. Gertrude Stein admired the book and said that she could not think of Grant without weeping.

His Memoirs were a financial and critical success. Thousands of war veterans and their families made a ready market for the book. Grant’s family, who received seventy-five percent of the royalties, quickly re-established their fortune, receiving nearly a half million dollars from the book.

 

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