Ulysses Grant rose from obscurity to discover he had a genius for battle, and he propelled the Union to victory in the Civil War. After Abraham Lincoln's assassination and the disastrous brief presidency of Andrew Johnson, America turned to Grant again to unite the country, this time as president.
In H.W. Brands's full biography, The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace, Grant emerges as a heroic figure who was fearlessly on the side of right. He was a beloved commander in the field but willing to make the troop sacrifices necessary to win the war, even in the face of storms of criticism. He was an enormously popular president whose memoirs were a huge bestseller; yet within decades of his death his reputation was in tatters, the victim of Southerners who resented his policies on Reconstruction.
H. W. Brands is the Dickson Allen Anderson Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin.