A General Who Will Fight: The Leadership of Ulysses S. Grant

Overview

Prior to his service in the Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant exhibited few characteristics indicating that he would be an extraordinary leader. His performance as a cadet was mediocre, and he finished in the bottom half of his class at West Point. However, during his early service in the Civil War, most notably at the battles of Shiloh and Vicksburg, Grant proved that he possessed an uncommon drive. When it was most crucial, Grant demonstrated his integrity, determination, and tactical skill by taking control of the ...

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A General Who Will Fight: The Leadership of Ulysses S. Grant

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Overview

Prior to his service in the Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant exhibited few characteristics indicating that he would be an extraordinary leader. His performance as a cadet was mediocre, and he finished in the bottom half of his class at West Point. However, during his early service in the Civil War, most notably at the battles of Shiloh and Vicksburg, Grant proved that he possessed an uncommon drive. When it was most crucial, Grant demonstrated his integrity, determination, and tactical skill by taking control of the Union troops and leading his forces to victory.

A General Who Will Fight is a detailed study of leadership that explores Grant's rise from undisciplined cadet to commanding general of the United States Army. Some experts have attributed Grant's success to superior manpower and technology, to the help he received from other Union armies, or even to a ruthless willingness to sacrifice his own men. Harry S. Laver, however, refutes these arguments and reveals that the only viable explanation for Grant's success lies in his leadership skill, professional competence, and unshakable resolve. Much more than a book on military strat-egy, this innovative volume examines the decision-making process that enabled Grant both to excel as an unquestioned commander and to win.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Laver (Citizens More Than Soldiers) takes an in-depth look at Ulysses S. Grant's military success in his latest historical study. He argues against popular explanations of Grant's success, like those that merely attribute his victory to the Federal's army wealth of men and resources. Instead, Laver shows how Grant's inherent leadership skills were fundamental to his rise to U.S. commanding general. He studies each of Grant's battles in minute detail, and then analyzes them for Grant's mistakes and accomplishments. Unfortunately, Laver's analyses aren't as elaborate as his detailed historical facts, as he depends primarily on vague words and ideas such as Grant's "analytical determination", which results in each battle analysis sounding the same instead of building from the last. Laver also studies Grant's professional relationships, such as his insecure one with General Henry W. Halleck, his superior for most of his early career during the war, and his friendship with a supportive President Lincoln. This book is best for military buffs and historians; Laver's writing style and use of incredible detail will prove dry for the average reader.
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From the Publisher

"Laver offers a thoughtful examination of Ulysses S. Grant's leadership, emphasizing 'analytical determination' as a critical factor in his battlefield success. In recounting Grant's development into a tenacious, yet contemplative commander, Laver provides lessons that will resonate among soldiers, scholars, and anyone with an interest in leadership development and the American Civil War." -- Robert P. Wettemann Jr., author of Privilege vs. Equality: Civil Military Relations in the Jacksonian Era, 1815-1845

"This book is a well-presented analysis of Grant's war philosophy. It is complete with footnotes and a good bibliography. [...] The book is valuable for those who wish to learn what makes a successful general. It is of particular value to those just beginning to study the Civil War.civilwarnews.com" -- Civil War News

"The author explains why Ulysses Grant, or more specifically his analytical determination, was the absolute factor in the Union's defeat of the Confederacy and its attempt at nationhood. The volume is recommended." -- Post Library

"For such a relatively short...book, the author explains why Ulysses Grant, or more specifically his analytical determination, was the absolute factor in the Union's defeat of the Confederacy and its attempt at nationhood. The volume is recommended." -- Journal of America's Military Past

"A good read for those in need of a short introduction to Grant or for those with an interest in the problem of military leadership." -- NYMAS Review

"This thoughtful book provides new insights to the Civil War and a unique and paradoxical portrait of one of America's most remarkable leaders." -- On Point: The Journal of Army History

"This book is a readable, moving, and inspiring story of one of America's greatest generals." -- Civil War Book Review

"This is an extraordinary book covering the leadership style of General U.S. Grant during the American Civil War." -- Lone Star Book Review

"This is a very insightful, thought-provoking, and exceptionally well-written book that deftly handles this weighty topic." -- Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

"Incisive and inspirational tour of how Grant became Grant." -- American History Magazine

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813136776
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 1/3/2013
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Harry S. Laver is associate professor of history and political science at Southeastern Louisiana University and author of Citizens More Than Soldiers: The Kentucky Militia and Society in the Early Republic.

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Table of Contents

List of Maps viii

Introduction: A Great Force of Will 1

1 First Lessons 11

2 First Battles 21

3 Shiloh 41

4 The Vicksburg Campaign 55

5 Chattanooga 83

6 The Overland Campaign 105

7 Richmond, Petersburg, and Peace 129

8 A Faith in Success 155

Acknowledgments 165

Notes 167

Bibliography 187

Index 191

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