If Ulysses S. Grant had accompanied President Lincoln to Ford's Theater on April 14, 1865--as was his intent--John Wilkes Booth's plan to assassinate both men would have elevated Grant's stature in American history to one equaling Lincoln's. Instead, Grant's post-Civil War career is often regarded as an anticlimax to his heroism in battle; his postwar commitment to the rights of African Americans often goes unrecognized.

Such is the main premise that Ron Chernow (Alexander Hamilton) presents in Grant, a skillfully written and extensively researched biography encapsulating all facets of the remarkable personal and political life led by the United States' 18th president. Chernow posits that Grant's support and enforcement of the 13th, 14th and 15th Constitutional amendments (abolishing slavery, providing for due process and giving African Americans the right to vote) held as much significance and importance as Lincoln's accomplishments. It is because of Reconstruction's failure that Grant suffers unfairly.

Chernow explores in detail Grant's presidency, one unfortunately characterized by corruption and graft, while rightfully asserting that his biggest fault was internal: "The world of politics was filled with duplicitous people and Grant was poorly equipped to spot them, remaining an easy touch for crooked men."

Grant includes numerous historical anecdotes to satisfy the interest of casual history buffs, while offering new and deeper theories on Grant that will appeal to more devoted scholars of history. In doing so, Chernow more than expands upon the historiography of the post-Civil War era and comes closer than any other historian before in ranking Grant as Lincoln's deserved equal. --William H. Firman Jr., historian and writer

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