Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant

This book has the reputation of being one of the best autobiographies, but I found it largely tedious and disappointing.  For 600 pages, Grant writes rather drily of generals, troop movements, and statistics on numbers of men wounded, captured and killed.  There is little life in the writing.  Little of what Grant is thinking and feeling.

However, I like the man.  He is level-headed and good-hearted.  He believed passionately in his cause.

 The last 60 pages were more interesting.  Grant writes of the surrender of Lee at Appomattox, clearly admiring Lee’s grace, reserve and dignity.  He tells of the final days of the war.  Of being invited by Lincoln to the Ford Theater the night he was assassinated, but being prevented from going.  He was a huge admirer of Lincoln.  He writes honestly and critically of Andrew Johnson being too hard on the South after he replaced Lincoln.

One of the best things about Grant’s leadership was the way he empowered his generals, the way he gave them as much freedom as possible and the way he supported them, all the while making it clear that he was the leader.