December 30, 2011
U. S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth. Waugh, Joan. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009.
Most Americans today are unaware of how revered U.S. Grant was in his lifetime.
Joan Waugh's book, U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth tackles the ups and downs of the public image and reputation of the war hero and U.S. President. The book, sometimes referred to as part biography and part cultural history, reminds readers that Grant was perhaps the most famous American at the time of his death. Many say his status was on par with Washington. The American people saw him as the ultimate war hero and savior of the nation. The author explores the factors that led nineteenth-century Americans to overlook Grant's obvious faults and hold him up as a symbol of national reconciliation and unity.
Waugh also addresses Grant's presidential years, the writing of his memoirs and his death, and eventually helps the reader understand some of the reasons behind the rise and fall of his public image. The book, as a whole, provides readers with a detailed and probing look at the man behind the war hero's mask.