Review of “Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph over Adversity” by Brooks Simpson

My Journey Through the Best Presidential Biographies

Brooks Simpson’s “Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph Over Adversity, 1822-1865” was published in 2000 and is the first of two expected volumes on Grant’s life. Simpson is a historian and professor at Arizona State University. He has written a half-dozen books and is a noted authority on the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Because a second volume is (or at least once was) anticipated, this book does not cover Grant’s presidency or the drafting of his memoirs in the last weeks of his life. But neither does Simpson spend much time on Grant’s formative childhood or early life. The majority of the book is focused on his nearly two-decade long military career (almost 80% it to just his service in the Civil War).

Unlike earlier Grant biographer William McFeely, Professor Simpson is favorably disposed toward his subject. Fortunately his fondness never seems far out of balance. On the contrary, Simpson’s analysis…

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