The Annotated Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant
One hundred and thirty-three years after its 1885 publication by Mark Twain, Elizabeth Samet has annotated this lavish edition of Grant’s landmark memoir, and expands the Civil War backdrop against which this monumental American life is typically read. No previous edition combines such a sweep of historical and cultural contexts with the literary authority that Samet, an English professor obsessed with Grant for decades, brings to the table.
Whether exploring novels Grant read at West Point or presenting majestic images culled from archives, Samet curates a richly annotated, highly collectible edition that will fascinate Civil War buffs. The edition also breaks new ground in its attack on the “Lost Cause” revisionism that still distorts our national conversation about the legacy of the Civil War. Never has Grant’s transformation from tanner’s son to military leader been more insightfully and passionately explained than in this timely edition, appearing on the 150th anniversary of Grant’s 1868 presidential election.
“Elizabeth Samet’s annotations to Grant’s Memoirs are a marvel, brilliantly situating the text not only in military history, but also in a broader literary and cultural context. The many admirers of the memoir will find this an essential addition to the text, one that ranges from Xenophon to Gertrude Stein, from Islamic commentaries on the sacking of cities to a wealth of contemporary photographs, paintings, and maps.”
- Phil Klay, National Book Award–winning author of Redeployment
“Samet pulls off a herculean scholarly achievement in her annotation of Grant’s classic autobiography.... A very rich reading experience that highlights unexpected connections between events in the text, its historical moment, and its connections to larger cultural themes. Samet accomplishes this rare feat of creating accessible annotations that are fascinating and enlightening as the text they are meant to enrich.”
- Publishers Weekly [starred review]
“An enthralling, brilliant, illuminating―and unique―contribution that helps return Ulysses S. Grant to the pinnacle on which he belongs. Professor Elizabeth Samet’s Annotated Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant is literary and historical scholarship at its very finest – providing a lyrical, exceptionally readable addition to Grant’s extraordinarily clear, forthright, and unsentimental Personal Memoirs.”
- General David Petraeus, US Army, Ret.
“A new edition, with thorough commentary, of the memoirs of an American Caesar―and indeed, a book long reckoned to be America's version of The Gallic Wars. For Civil War buffs, this is a must-read... the edition that serious students of the Civil War, and Grant's role in it, will want. Indispensable.”
- Kirkus Reviews [starred review]
“There is so much there... A tanner’s son, failing at so much, turned savior of his country. A slaveholder turned mass emancipator. The warrior transformed into a warrior-poet.”
- Ta-Nehisi Coates on Grant's Personal Memoirs
About the Author
Elizabeth D. Samet received her BA from Harvard and her PhD in English literature from Yale. She is the author of No Man's Land: Preparing for War and Peace in Post-9/11 America (Macmillan); and Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point (FSG & Picador), which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest and was named one of The New York Time's 100 Notable Books of 2007; and Willing Obedience: Citizens, Soldiers, and the Progress of Consent in America, 1776–1898 (Stanford UP). Her essays and reviews have been published in various venues, including The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, and The New Republic. Samet is a professor of English at West Point. She speaks often to both civilian and military audiences on the role of literature in shaping future military officers, and she was a member of the Army Chief of Staff's 2011–2012 Task Force on Leader Development. She has appeared on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, NPR, and the BBC World Service.