Over the last fifteen years we’ve seen a series of Grant biographies (with two more single-volume treatments on the way, as well as the long-awaited second [and final] volume of my own work). One of the less successful efforts was Michael Korda’s Ulysses S. Grant: The Unlikely Hero (2004), which proved less compelling than Josiah Bunting’s concise biography. Now Korda turns his talents to reviewing H. W. Brands’s new Grant biography in a review that suggests just why Korda may have fallen short in capturing Grant. I didn’t know Grant was on the $20 bill; and I’m sure some people will be taken aback to read that “it is typical of Grant’s decline in history that the Ulysses S. Grant Association has migrated from Ohio, where he was born, to the University of Southern Illinois and finally to Mississippi State University (of all places), where his papers now reside, deep in what used to be the Confederacy.” He can’t even get the name of Southern Illinois University correct.
And that’s just the opening paragraph.
Eventually Korda gets around to saying next to nothing about Brands’s book, which is just as well.
(h/t to a loyal reader)