The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 18, July 1914 - April, 1915 Page: 421
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Book Reviews and Notices
termaster and a heady fighter, displaying something of the quali-
ties that carried him through the Civil War. General King's ac-
count of Grant's leaving the army in 1854 is not a flat denial of
the generally accepted story of intemperance but it is calculated
to throw some doubt on that theory without offering adequate evi-
dence for any other. The seven lean years spent in civil life are
disposed of in eight pages. When we consider the humiliation of
those years and when we take note of his relatives, much of what
seemed inexplicable in one of Grant's simple probity becomes more
comprehensible. Old Jesse Grant, the father, hard-headed, con-
triving, disputatious and indiscreet; the younger brothers snub-
bing the elder in his days of adversity and eagerly scheming for
favorable contracts or office in times of fame and prosperity; and
lastly the wife, Julia Dent, commonplace and eager for social tri-
umph, the perfect type of snobbish mediocrity suddenly elevated
to high place, yet one to whom Grant was sincerely devoted-it is
not altogether an edifying family group, but it does furnish an
excellent foil for the finer qualities observable in Grant, and it
may explain some of his faults.
About half of the volume is given to the Civil War. Of this
the best part is the account of Grant's rise to command in the
West, a well told story of struggle against obstacles compounded of
prejudice, jealousy, and politics. Here, too, we get a good picture
of the western army and of the group of Grant's associates in
arms. There is given but brief explanation of the strategy of
these campaigns, while the account of Grant's campaigns in Vir-
ginia is even more unsatisfactory. And here it is necessary to
call attention to General King's habit of lauding his hero on every
possible occasion, a performance which he seems to regard as a
biographical duty; but it is a habit which finally grows tiresome
to the reader, especially when it seems unwarranted by the facts.
This accounts for his failure properly to characterize Grant's treat-
ment of George H. Thomas; and it may explain his ready assump-
tion that Grant was the superior in generalship of Lee (p. 321).
It is not worth while to be captious on this point, but it may be
pardonable to call attention to the fact that the foremost of mili-
tary critics do not seem to agree in this particular with General
King, though they all join in praise of Grant's clear-sighted com-
prehension of military problems, his capacity for instant decision
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 18, July 1914 - April, 1915, periodical, 1915; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101064/m1/427/: accessed July 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.