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Grant's Final Victory: Ulysses S. Grant's Heroic Last Year
     

Grant's Final Victory: Ulysses S. Grant's Heroic Last Year

4.3 14
by Charles Bracelen Flood
 

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Shortly after losing all of his wealth in a terrible 1884 swindle, Ulysses S. Grant learned he had terminal throat and mouth cancer. Destitute and dying, Grant began to write his memoirs to save his family from permanent financial ruin.

As Grant continued his work, suffering increasing pain, the American public became aware of this race between Grant’s

Overview

Shortly after losing all of his wealth in a terrible 1884 swindle, Ulysses S. Grant learned he had terminal throat and mouth cancer. Destitute and dying, Grant began to write his memoirs to save his family from permanent financial ruin.

As Grant continued his work, suffering increasing pain, the American public became aware of this race between Grant’s writing and his fatal illness. Twenty years after his respectful and magnanimous demeanor toward Robert E. Lee at Appomattox, people in both the North and the South came to know Grant as the brave, honest man he was, now using his famous determination in this final effort. Grant finished Memoirs just four days before he died in July 1885.

Published after his death by his friend Mark Twain, Grant’s Memoirs became an instant bestseller, restoring his family’s financial health and, more importantly, helping to cure the nation of bitter discord. More than any other American before or since, Grant, in his last year, was able to heal this—the country’s greatest wound.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In 1884, the ex-president and ex-Union commander Ulysses S. Grant became bankrupt, having trusted his money to swindlers; soon after, he felt the first agonizing throat pain from the cancer that would kill him. Desperate to save his family from destitution, he wrote his memoirs, finishing days before his 1885 death. Veteran historian Flood (Lee: The Last Years) delivers a blow-by-blow narrative, full of colorful characters, accounts of earlier triumphs , and an upbeat ending. Grant's book became a critically acclaimed bestseller. Much credit goes to aggressive marketing by Mark Twain, who published the book and insisted on paying far more than the usual royalties. Inevitably, Grant's illness provoked an obsessive media deathwatch that seems very contemporary, plus innumerable tributes, honors, speeches, editorials, and letters from schoolchildren, admirers, and cranks. Liberal quotes from these as well as extensive flashbacks reveal Flood straining to fill the pages, but this is a moving if painful portrait of a dying national hero. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Flood (Grant and Sherman) writes movingly of the last months of Ulysses S. Grant's life, 1884–85, when, in the wake of financial ruin from a failed investment and suffering from terminal throat cancer, he labored to complete his memoirs (which would be published by Mark Twain) so that his family might once again prosper after his death. Flood paints a vivid picture of Grant's earlier achievements and of the United States in the decades after the Civil War, moving back and forth between the turmoil surrounding Grant in 1884 and his conduct of the war, paying special attention to his relationships with his family and friends, the troops he commanded, and his humane treatment of Confederate troops in the terms of surrender. Flood has great respect for his subject and succeeds in transmitting it to the reader. VERDICT Those who like presidential or post-Civil War history will especially enjoy this book, aimed at general readers, with its compelling portrait of a well-known historical figure. Grant's Personal Memoirs has never been out of print and is recommended, with this one, for readers from high school to undergraduate students and history buffs.—Becky Kennedy, Atlanta-Fulton P.L., GA
Kirkus Reviews

A lucid, often somber account of the sad but noble decline of Ulysses S. Grant.

Though he had served two terms as president, writes Flood (1864: Lincoln at the Gates of History, 2009, etc.), Grant was universally known as "General Grant." He had left office under a shadow, several key members of his administration having been found corrupt, and he was determined to set an example as an honest businessman. And so, strangely, he went to New York to become an investment broker, where his partner swindled him out of his fortune and besmirched his name even further. With scarcely a cent to his name, Grant briefly entertained a magazine editor's proposal that he write a series of articles on the Civil War but rejected it, saying, "I have no idea of undertaking the task of writing any of the articles the Century requests." Yet eventually the thought of writing his own view of events became more appealling—notably when he was shortly afterward diagnosed with cancer. In excruciating pain, he wrote what has been considered one of the most important military memoirs ever produced, spurred along by friend and publisher Mark Twain (who, Flood notes, had been a deserter from the Confederate army). Writes Flood, with considerable elegance, "By deciding to give his work the full titlePersonal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, [Grant] did himself a great favor. He could write about the things he wished to put before the reader, and omit those he did not. At one stroke, he relieved himself of the obligation to include everything he might know about a battle or a person, while reserving the right to dwell on a smaller matter or fleeting perception." And so he did, writing of the hell and chaos of battle while suffering a second hell of his own. Upon learning of his death, Grant's former opponent James Longstreet called him "the truest as well as the bravest man who ever lived." In this swiftly moving narrative, Flood ably shows why he deserved the accolade.

A welcome addition to the literature surrounding Grant and his time.

From the Publisher

New York Journal of Books, 10/15/11“What an inspiring story; and so well told. I could not put it down, despite knowing the ending. Anyone interested in the Civil War Era should read Grant’s Final Victory.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune, 11/26/11
“[An] inspiring tale of resilience.”

Bookviews blog, December 2011
“Flood goes beyond Grant’s memoirs…Flood paints a picture of a man devoted to his family. His determination, love of family and nation, is captured in this biography.”

Midwest Book Review, November 2011
“[An] absorbing, vivid tale of one man's struggle against the inevitable, highly recommended.”
 
Author magazine, December 2011
“[A] fascinating and entertaining book…Grant's Memoirs remain a classic to this day, and Flood's view into the circumstances surrounding their creation makes a perfect companion piece.”
 
Tucson Citizen, 1/3/12
”Completed just four days before his death in 1885, Grant’s book was an instant hit and has long been considered the best ever written by a former military leader or president. Flood provides the riveting true story behind this literary achievement.”
 

An American Iliad: The Story of the Civil War 
“Charles Bracelen Flood has now set his deft and discerning pen to the story of General U. S. Grant's heroic effort during the last year of his life in writing his famous memoirs. Anyone with as much as a grain of interest in the nation's history will derive both profit and pleasure from Flood's work.”

Thomas Fleming, author of The Secret Trial of Robert E. Lee
“Seldom if ever have I read a book that plunges so deeply – and so masterfully – into the human side of a major historical figure. When that figure is a man as laconic and private as Ulysses S. Grant, the achievement is even more remarkable. Charles Bracelen Flood has combined his talents as a novelist and historian to create an irresistible book.”

Frank J. Williams, president of the Ulysses S. Grant Association and chair of The Lincoln Forum
“In his latest winning book, Grant’s Final Victory, Charles Bracelen Flood defines a true American hero in this sensitive telling of Ulysses S. Grant’s last campaign to provide for his family in the last year of his life.”

William C. Davis, author of

Battle at Bull Run
“In a fitting companion to his classic Lee: The Last Years, Charles Bracelen Flood’s Grant's Final Victory provides a moving account of a hero's last heroic deeds struggling against financial disaster to provide for his family, and battling cancer to complete what would become one of the greatest memoirs ever written by an American. Crippled by pain, unable to speak, his last chapters written almost in a scrawl, the general who saved the Union demonstrated once again his power of command, just as Flood has shown once more his mastery of narrating the most poignant and inspiring moments of our past.”

Harold Holzer, author of Lincoln at Cooper Union and chairman of the Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation
“Ulysses S. Grant won the war but lost both his money and his reputation in the aftermath of his checkered presidency. With consummate grace, Charles Bracelen Flood traces the old general’s resurrection, as he battled misfortune and disease to complete his peerless memoir and secure his family’s future. They say heroes have no second act, but Grant did, and Flood recalls his fall and rise in a gripping and elegant narrative.”

“A must read for Civil War buffs, presidential history enthusiasts, or anyone looking for a book on a courageous person who refused to give up…Flood’s new book neatly captures the essence of the old war hero and two-term President, intermixing the struggle of his last days with brief flashbacks into his life and career to help add depth and background to his emotions and actions as he battled bankruptcy and cancer. Free flowing and easy to read, Grant’s Final Victory stands as another masterpiece by Flood…The book is lucidly written, fast-paced, comprehensive, and well researched, and yet reads like a well crafted story…Flood’s book is certain to become the definitive work on Grant’s final year of life.”
 

Publishers Weekly, 6/27/11
“A moving if painful portrait of a dying national hero.”

Booklist, 9/1/11
“Flood captures Grant’s stoic determination to finish, delivering the poignant backstory to his famous, ever-popular recollections.”

Library Journal, 9/1/11
“Flood writes movingly of the last months of Ulysses S. Grant’s life…Flood has great respect for his subject and succeeds in transmitting it to the reader. Those who like presidential or post-Civil War history will especially enjoy this book, aimed at general readers, with its compelling portrait of a well-known historical figure.”

American History, December 2011
“Flood has chosen one of the great profiles in courage from American history and told it splendidly.”
 
Houston Chronicle, 10/9/11
“The exhilarating and heroic story of the race to complete Grant’s memoirs.”
 
Cannonball (blog), 10/3/11

Kirkus Reviews, BEA Special Issue, 4/15/11
“A lucid, often somber account of the sad but noble decline of Ulysses S. Grant…Upon learning of his death, Grant’s former opponent James Longstreet called him ‘the truest as well as the bravest man who ever lived.’ In this swiftly moving narrative, Flood ably shows why he deserved the accolade. A welcome addition to the literature surrounding Grant and his time.”

The Waterline, 6/2/11
“Flood’s book is an excellent read about a little explored aspect of General Grant, and is recommended to those with a passion for American history and specifically the Civil War.”

Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Lion
“Charles Bracelen Flood has painted a moving and illuminating portrait of Ulysses Grant’s grace as the dying general faced possible ruin. Grant is so important, yet he somehow seems always on the periphery of the American mind. Flood’s excellent new book should help put Grant where he belongs: in the center of our memory.”

Jean Edward Smith, author of the Pulitzer Prize-finalist, Grant
“An unsurpassed account of Grant’s final year. Mr. Flood has written not only the definitive study, but also the most readable. A wonderful book.”

Charles P. Roland, author of

“An intimate account of Grant’s determination and resolve as his life slowly slipped away. This is an exceptional piece of historical reporting and a book that should be at the top of everyone’s reading list this autumn.”
 
Rhapsody in Books, 10/25/11Under the able hands of the entertaining historian Charles Bracelen Flood, this book is a page-turner that has you not only reaching for the Kleenex box, but aching to get to Grant’s memoir itself.”

 
Roanoke Times, 9/25/11
“Flood fills the pages of Grant’s Final Victory with richly detailed descriptions of a time often lost to casual studies of history—the years following the Civil War…Flood’s real contribution is showing the heroic Grant. It is not the heroics of battlefield bravery but the heroics of fighting a terminal illness in order to finish a project that will support the Grant family after the general’s death…Flood’s talent as a storyteller engages the reader from the very first page. He keeps the reader involved in Grant’s life and the lives of his friends and family to the very end. The book ends with one the most powerful passages I have ever read.”
 

“Flood turns a spotlight on the tumultuous drama Grant faced before he died…With such vivid detail, the 247-page book is not easily put down.”
 
Relaxed Fit eZine, 10/18/11
“Provide[s] some new material and a new viewpoint...Grant’s Final Victory is a thoughtful, well-researched work…Mr. Flood has provided an accurate, moving portrait of a legendary leader.”
 
Deseret News, 10/17/11
“Flood beautifully details the sobering last year of Civil War hero and President Ulysses S. Grant…Flood accurately captures the spirit of a man determined to put forth his best effort while staring death squarely in the face. Fans of historical non-fiction will appreciate Flood’s superb style…A compelling read.”
 
Washington Times, 10/28/11
“Flood burnishes his reputation as a top-notch historian with the poignant story of the last year of a gallant American hero. Grant's performance under adversity makes for an inspiring story.”
 
Tucson Citizen, 11/6/11

48th Pennsylvania Infantry (blog), 10/5/11
“[An] excellent history…Flood tells the story masterfully; it is a story that is at once tragic and inspiring…Flood writes in such a clear and easy-to-read manner that it took but two sittings for me to read through this 250-page book…Will appeal to a wide audience, but especially those interested in the Civil War and one of its most legendary figures…This is more than just the story of Grant's final year; it is also a story of hope in the face of adversity, and inspiration in the face of tragedy.”

Christian Science Monitor, 10/19/11
“Flood offers a fascinating coda to a remarkable life in this brisk, well-told history of the final months and days of Ulysses S. Grant…[Flood] demonstrates a keen understanding of Grant and other major figures without bogging the story down in excessive detail. The author’s command of details and anecdotes shines throughout.”

Shelf Awareness for Readers, 10/18/11
“A deceptively brief but inspiring account of how, in the midst of tragedy, Ulysses S. Grant found the strength to write one of America's greatest memoirs.”
 
Richmond Register, 10/23/11

Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 1/15/12“Flood describes Grant's painful struggle to write as the tumors spread and ultimately took his life—just three days after he completed the final page. Once you read Flood's highly recommended book, you will want to put Grant's memoirs on your reading list.”
 
Sacramento Book Review/San Francisco Book Review, 1/25/12
“Flood’s account of Grant’s final year does justice to his subject’s heroic story.”

Politics & Patriotism (blog), 1/25/12

“This is more than a documentation of one man’s death. It’s a closer look at what it means to do ‘great things.’”
 

Asbury Park Sunday Press, 1/29/12
“A spectacular book about the incredible bravery this war hero had in his domestic life.”
 
Tulsa Book Review, February 2012“Flood’s account of Grant’s final year does justice to his subject’s heroic story.”
 
Civil War News, Feb/March issue

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780306820281
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Publication date:
10/11/2011
Pages:
356
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"A lucid, often somber account of the sad but noble decline of Ulysses S. Grant. . . . A welcome addition to the literature surrounding Grant and his time." —-Kirkus

Meet the Author

Charles Bracelen Flood is the author of twelve previous books, including the bestselling Lee: The Last Years and Grant and Sherman, which Salon.com named one of the “Top 12 Civil War Books Ever Written.” He lives in Kentucky.

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Grant's Final Victory 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Provides an unexpected appreciation for Grant's courage, integrity, and love for his family. Everyone should also follow this book by reading his personal memoirs - the best of all presidential autobiographies! dcw
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
¿The last year of Ulysses S. Grant¿s life is a poignant story of dogged determination, heart-wrenching courage, innate talent, and steadfast love of wife and family. Charles Bracelen Flood writes about it all with an elegance and insight no previous author has mustered. No one can read this book without admiration both for the book¿s subject and the book¿s author. ¿ ¿ John F. Marszalek, Executive Director, Ulysses S. Grant Association, Mississippi State University
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Grant's Final Victory" follows in the footsteps of "Lee: The Last Years", another terrific work by Charles Bracelen Flood. I have read much of Flood's historical work and those that deal intimately with a figure during a brief snapshot in time are my favorite. Like his book on Robert E. Lee, "Grant's Final Victory" is moving and poignant. Few historical biographies move me emotionally. This one did.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In Grant's Final Victory, Charles Bracelen Flood writes the gripping tale of Grant's last years. Two years before he died, General Grant fell prey to a Ponzi scheme and was financially wrecked. This book details Grant's valiant race to complete his memoirs and restore his family's fortune and dignity. Flood knows how to keep the reader on the edge of their seats while also hammering home the facts. An inspiring tale, and beautifully told.
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