A study of how a man turned ""the common stuff of him to such uncommon uses"". Brooks traces Grant's family background, his early years, his work in the tanyard, West Point, the Mexican War, his marriage, his drinking, his resignation, and the stigma of failure (which this biographer discounts). Then the Civil War and the chance for the man to prove his destiny, in spite of obstacles, dark days. He shows how he accomplished -- though not alone -- deeds that have given him a place unchallenged in American history. The survey of the Civil War years are detailed enough to show that events molded his qualities, and he closes with Appomattox as the climax of his achievement and the height of his greatness. A portrait of a time of crisis, for which country and people were unprepared, which demanded a hero and produced one from the people. Sturdy championship.