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The First Completely Annotated Edition of Ulysses S. Grant’s Personal Memoirs

9780674976290-lg

 

The Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant are widely considered to be one of the most well-written pieces of non-fiction American literature. Mark Twain, a close friend of Grant’s and whose company published the first edition of the memoirs, called them ‘a great, unique and unapproachable literary masterpiece.’ The memoirs have been in continuous print since their original publication in 1885, which highlights the historical impact of the book. However, in those 130 years, no one has ever thoroughly contextualized the memoirs for the modern reader, until now. Just recently, the Ulysses S. Grant Association, under the management of the Executive Director John F. Marszalek, has announced an upcoming publication of the first comprehensively annotated edition of Grant’s memoirs. Published by Harvard University Press’s Belknap imprint, it will be available for purchase in September 2017.

This newest edition of Grant’s memoirs contains over 2,000 explanatory notes, which identifies nearly every person that Grant mentions, elaborates on details that Grant might have missed, and corrects him if he made an error. All of the scholarly notes that are included in this edition will be invaluable to researchers, historians, academics, and more importantly the casual reader.

Interestingly enough, Grant did not see himself as a writer, nor did he assume that people were interested in hearing his take on the Civil War. However, in June 1884, Grant’s financial trouble, and a diagnosis of severe throat and mouth cancer, forced him to reconsider his abilities as a writer. Immediately after his diagnosis, he began to compose his life story. The oncoming threat of death did not deter Grant. He was determined to complete his memoirs so he could leave his family with a hardy income. With astounding clarity, Grant was able to capture the essence of his early life and detail his personal experience in the Civil War. The general public was enamored by Grant’s direct and lucid writing style.

Sadly, Grant passed away only four days after completing his manuscript, so he was never able to see just how successful and well-received his memoirs would become. Hopefully, this latest edition will add to the historical value of the memoirs, and provide every student of American history with a more nuanced perspective of Grant.

If you are interested in purchasing this invaluable piece of Grant scholarship, you can visit any bookstore or online retailer. Or, you can purchase the book through Harvard, here:
http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674976290

 

Louie P. Gallo

lpg58@msstate.edu

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Mark Twain and Ulysses S. Grant: A Phenomenal Friendship, Part 1

         U.S. Grant

In the summer of 1884 former president Ulysses S. Grant screamed out in pain after he took a bite from a peach. Something was wrong with his throat. At first, his wife Julia thought he was scratched by the peach’s pit or that he was stung by a bug. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Months later, after Julia convinced him to see a doctor, Grant discovered that he had throat and mouth cancer. The family was devastated by the news, but in usual fashion, Grant decided to fight. He knew that he did not have much time to live, which meant that he had to find a way to provide for his family after his death. His problems were exacerbated by failed business investments. The only solution was for him to write his autobiography. He was approached by multiple publishing companies who were interested in producing his memoirs, but at the eleventh hour, Grant met with one of America’s most famous authors, Mark Twain. Read more…

Congressman Joshua R. Giddings: The Measure of a Man

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Joshua R. Giddings

On December 3nd, 1838, Joshua Reed Giddings, a lawyer and an abolitionist from Ohio’s 16th congressional district was sworn in as a member of the United States House of Representatives. That day, he met his future mentor and former President, John Quincy Adams. In his diary, Giddings goes into great detail about his first encounter with Adams. He states that Adams was…

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