This is the edition that serious students of the Civil War, and Grant’s role in it, will want. Indispensable.

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.

Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1855) began his military career without much promise but distinguished himself in combat in the Mexican-American War, where, as he recounts, he came into contact with many of his future opponents in the Civil War. His legendary service in the Western theater of operations, and later as commander of the entire Union Army, led to his election and re-election as president, but all that did not save him from being bilked by a business partner—and thus this memoir, which none other than Mark Twain convinced him to publish to provide for his soon-to-be-widow, since Grant was already ill with cancer. As editor Samet (English/West Point; No Man's Land: Preparing for War and Peace in Post–9/11 America, 2014, etc.) notes, rumors immediately emerged that Twain had ghostwritten it. In fact, Grant labored endlessly on this massive book, which, writes Samet, “is the artifact that does justice to his achievement as the leader of an army that preserved a nation and emancipated four million people.” Grant’s writing is simple and unadorned, though those who read between the lines will see that he is nothing if not politically astute. His account of the political troubles of William Tecumseh Sherman for offering the same mercies as he had to the vanquished Confederate forces is a model of understatement—though, he adds, “the feeling against Sherman died out very rapidly, and it was not many weeks before he was restored to the fullest confidence of the American people.” If anything, Samet might be criticized, gently, for being too vigorous in annotation; an early disquisition on the French and Indian War, for instance, is orders of magnitude longer than the aside of Grant’s that prompted it, and it begs to be reined in. Nonetheless, for Civil War buffs, this is a must-read.

This is the edition that serious students of the Civil War, and Grant’s role in it, will want. Indispensable.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63149-244-0

Page Count: 1024

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

Close Quickview