Around the World with General Grant

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9780801869501: Around the World with General Grant
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After leaving the office of the presidency in 1877, Ulysses S. Grant embarked on a journey worthy of his legendary namesake, an around-the-world tour that took him from Europe to the Middle East and Asia over two and one-half years. Accompanying Grant was journalist John Russell Young, a wartime associate who was working in Europe as a correspondent for the New York Herald when Grant first arrived in England. On assignment for the Herald, Young joined the former president's entourage and faithfully recorded every detail of the grand tour―the sightseeing, official visits, travel conditions, and Grant's candid discussions with heads of state and other notables about the Civil War and other matters of state. So far from home, Grant felt free to speak his mind about his fellow Union officers, his Confederate adversaries, and the conduct of the war, at far more length than he would in his celebrated but close-to-the-vest memoirs. These salty reminiscences of the war give this travelogue its greatest importance for posterity.

First published in two volumes in 1879, Young's account has been carefully abridged by historian Michael Fellman and is now available to modern readers in a single volume that, besides his adventures abroad, distills Grant's unvarnished memories and judgments of his wartime and executive experiences. We read Grant's opinions of such Civil War figures as Stonewall Jackson ("Jackson's fame as a general depends upon achievements gained before his generalship was tested, before he had a chance of matching himself with a really great commander."); George McClellan ("It has always seemed to me that the critics of McClellan do not consider this vast and cruel responsibility―the war, a new thing to all of us, the army new, everything to do from the outset, with a restless people and Congress."); and Joe Johnston ("I have had nearly all of the Southern generals in high command in front of me, and Joe Johnston gave me more anxiety than any of the others. I was never half so anxious about Lee... Take it all in all, the South, in my opinion, had no better soldier than Joe Johnston."). An intimate portrait of one of America's most brilliant―and thoughtful―military men, Around the World with General Grant is a classic work of American journalism and history. It is also a vivid and insightful travel book, filled with reflections on exotic places and on Western, particularly British, imperialism as America was on the reluctant verge of entering the world stage.

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About the Author:

John Russell Young (1840–99) was born in Pennsylvania and started his newspaper career with the Philadelphia Press, accompanying the Army of the Potomac as a war correspondent for that paper during the Civil War. From 1866 to 1869, he served as managing editor of the New York Tribune and from 1871 to 1877, he was the European correspondent for the New York Herald. Young was the American minister to China from 1882 to 1885, and in 1897 was made librarian of Congress. Michael Fellman is a professor of history at Simon Fraser University and the author of five books, including The Making of Robert E. Lee and Citizen Sherman: A Life of William Tecumseh Sherman. He is coauthor of "This Terrible War": The American Civil War and Its Aftermath.

Review:

Grant may seem an improbably choice for an armchair traveling companion. He is interesting precisely because he was a tough old bird who was seeing the outside world for the first time. As travel writing, Around the World with General Grant makes for a fascinating comparison with A Tramp Abroad by Grant's friend (and publisher) Mark Twain.

(George Fetherling Vancouver Sun)

Skillfully edited and abridged... Fellman's witty, informative introduction... [and] helpful, brief chapter introductions and appropriate notes by Fellman clarify Grant's travel itinerary. A world map tracing Grant's trip further aids the reader, and the selected engravings from Young's book are marvelous complements to the text... Historians, professional and amateur, will appreciate Young's tart and intelligent depictions of foreign society and culture that reflect Victorian American sensibilities. Even better is his portrait of U. S. Grant as a respected statesman... Both entertaining and enlightening, Around the World with General Grant is a worthy addition to the Civil War bookshelf.

(A. Wilson Greene Civil War History)

During his trip around the world, Ulysses S. Grant discussed matters military and political with a frankness and informality that remains refreshing. As he sized up the world (and it sized up him), the former president sought to set the record straight on a number of matters in interviews with John Russell Young. Michael Fellman reintroduces us to these interviews and to Young's account of Grant's tour in an edition enhanced by perceptive commentary.

(Brooks D. Simpson, author of Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph over Adversity)

This new edition of John Russell Young's classic travel account should find a large and appreciative audience. It brims with wonderful material about Ulysses S. Grant, who expressed to Young his candid opinions about a range of subjects. It also offers a fascinating view of a group of Americans abroad, illuminating their puzzlement, enthusiasm, and sometimes open disapproval of the peoples and cultures they encountered.

(Gary W. Gallagher, author of The Confederate War)

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