A classic of military history, abridged for readers with short attention spans. Coaxed out of the general and ex-president by none other than Mark Twain and published in 1885 as its author was dying of cancer, the Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant is among the greatest first-person accounts of war ever written. Grant explains the Civil War as he understood it, insisting that the underlying cause was first and foremost slavery, with which “the great majority of the people of the North had no particular quarrel” until the Southern states insisted that their Northern neighbors apprehend and return runaways. Thomsen trims the memoirs to focus only on the Civil War, cutting a couple of hundred pages from the original. The editing is unobjectionable, but Thomsen includes no notes or other apparatus, and his glancing one-page introduction is useless. The well-written afterword by historian Thomas Fleming discusses only the role played by West Pointers on both sides of the conflict.
Readers would do better to turn to the less expensive—and far better edited—Modern Library and Penguin editions of Personal Memoirs.