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The Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant is an autobiography by Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th President of the United States, focused mainly on his military career during the Mexican–American War and the American Civil War, and completed as he was dying of throat cancer in 1885. The two-volume set was published by Mark Twain shortly after Grant's death.
Twain created a unique marketing system designed to reach millions of veterans with a patriotic appeal just as Grant's death was being mourned. Ten thousand agents canvassed the North, following a script that Twain had devised; many were veterans who dressed in their old uniforms. They sold 350,000 two-volume sets at prices from $3.50 to $12, depending on the binding (roughly $110 to $360 in 2021). Each copy contained what looked like a handwritten note from Grant himself. In the end, Grant's widow, Julia, received about $450,000 ($13,571,670 in 2021), suggesting a gross royalty before expenses of about 30%.
The Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant has been highly regarded by the general public, military historians and literary critics. Positive attention is often directed toward Grant's prose, which has been praised as shrewd, intelligent, and effective. He portrayed himself in the persona of the honorable Western hero, whose strength lies in his honesty and straightforwardness. He candidly depicts his battles against both the external Confederates and his internal Army foes.[
Annotated Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant - Elizabeth D. Samet
Elizabeth D. Samet has produced the most ambitious edition of Ulysses S. Grant's memoirs yet publishes.
One hundred and thirty-three years after its 1885 publication by Mark Twain, Elizabeth Samet has annotated this lavish edition of Grant’s landmark memoir and expands the Civil War backdrop against which this monumental American life is typically read. No previous edition combines such a sweep of historical and cultural contexts with the literary authority that Samet, an English professor obsessed with Grant for decades, brings to the table.
Whether exploring novels Grant read at West Point or presenting majestic images culled from archives, Samet curates a richly annotated, highly collectible edition that will fascinate Civil War buffs. The edition also breaks new ground in its attack on the “Lost Cause” revisionism that still distorts our national conversation about the legacy of the Civil War. Never has Grant’s transformation from tanner’s son to military leader been more insightfully and passionately explained than in this timely edition, appearing on the 150th anniversary of Grant’s 1868 presidential election.