Top positive review
A Surprisingly Good Read
Reviewed in the United States on October 13, 2021
I’ll be totally honest, a book written by a Fox News host is not usually something I would even pick up, let alone read. I stick mostly to works by Chernow, Ellis, Goodwin, Mccullough and more established historians when it comes to presidential biographies. But, I happened to catch an interview with Bret Baier promoting the book and the fact that he decided to start with the Jan 6 insurrection at the Capitol and tie that back to the 1876 election crisis really piqued my interest. I’m endlessly fascinated by historical parallels and figured this would be an interesting read. Luckily, I was right.
If you’re looking for a more detailed and well-researched biography about Grant’s life, skip this and go right to Chernow’s massive biography which came out in 2017. This book rushes through Grant’s early life and military service to get into the meat and potatoes of its main topic - Grant’s role in reconstruction and his handling of the 1876 election crisis. The author also draws some of his own conclusions, which might turn off some readers, but the thesis is quite interesting. Baier sets out to rehab Grant’s imagine, explain and defend his legacy, and examine his ultimate decision to support the grand bargain in the 1876 election, thus basically ending reconstruction.
There are endless parallels to be made to modern times (especially the 2020 election) and Baier makes a lot them. The book is also extremely fast-paced, consistently interesting, and a very easy and enjoyable read.
Like I said, books written by Fox News hosts (or really any partisan news commentators) are rarely anything that I would normally touch. This, however was an insightful, interesting, and quick read that I would recommend to anybody already familiar with the Civil War, Grant’s presidency, and the election of 1876.