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Biographer Reconsiders Ulysses Grant’s Legacy

Aired 12/10/13 on KPBS Midday Edition.

GUEST:

H.W. Brands, author, "The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace"

Transcript

When Americans are asked to rank U.S. presidents, Abraham Lincoln typically gets first place. He's credited as the man who guided the country through its greatest crisis: the Civil War.

Biographer H.W. Brands latest book is "The Man Who Saved the Union" about Ulysses S. Grant. He's also written biographies on Benjamin Franklin, Andrew Jackson, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt.

But a recent book brings another hero of that time into focus: the 18th man to lead America, President Ulysses Grant.

The Civil War general-turned-president has suffered from a checkered reputation. This 2012 biography, "The Man who saved the Union, Ulysses Grant in War and Peace," by biographer H.W. Brands shows us a troubled man who became a great leader in a very difficult time.

Comments

Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | December 10, 2013 at 12:16 p.m. ― 1 year ago

A DRUNK AND a failed businessman.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | December 11, 2013 at 11:03 a.m. ― 1 year ago

He should reconsider Lincoln's legacy as well who was more dictator than president. Both Grant and Lincoln conspired to murder hundreds of thousands of Americans simply for naked power and territory.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | December 11, 2013 at 12:07 p.m. ― 1 year ago

SOUTHERN DEFENDER--err--I mean CA Offender, they did what they have to do to "preserve" the Union, as brutal as it was but that was their priority, although I certainly see your point. (See the Biafra War in Nigeria for a modern day example.) Rightly or wrongly, the country came under marital law.

Lincoln precided over the largest mass execution (200 + of the Sioux) in US history, but that was unrelated to our Civil War.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | December 12, 2013 at 1 p.m. ― 1 year ago

Was preserving a forced "union" with so much death and destruction worth it?

Absolutely not.

What Lincoln and Grant did was nothing short of crimes against humanity, not just against the South, but Native Americans as you correctly identified.

The Biafra War is a similar example amongst the many modern day struggles of marginalized people around the world:

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