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Author aims to alter image of former US president Grant

By Associated Press in New York (China Daily) Updated: 2017-02-17 13:46

Ron Chernow, the historian who helped inspire the musical Hamilton, has a biography of Ulysses S. Grant coming out in the fall.

Penguin Press is calling the book Grant and plans to release it on Oct 17, the publisher said recently. Chernow's previous book, Washington: A Life, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011. His 2004 work on Alexander Hamilton was the basis for Lin-Manuel Miranda's Tony Award-winning Broadway smash, for which Chernow served as historical consultant.

Chernow's new book will likely be the most high-profile effort yet to change the reputation of the country's 18th president.

As Penguin noted in its news release, Grant has been "caricatured as a chronic loser and inept businessman", a drunk whose Civil War heroism was overshadowed by his legacy as a "credulous and hapless president whose tenure came to symbolize the worst excesses of the Gilded Age".

Grant's competence is even challenged on His biographical essay, which has been on the White House website for years, contends: "When he was elected, the American people hoped for an end to turmoil. Grant provided neither vigor nor reform."

But writers ranging from Ta-Nehisi Coates to the historian Jean Edward Smith have argued that Grant is an underrated and even heroic president. Their defense of him extends from the same issue that led early critics, many sympathetic to former Confederates, to denounce him: His determination to enforce equal rights for blacks in the South after the Civil War.

According to Penguin, Chernow will address Grant's drinking and other flaws, but within a "grand synthesis of painstaking research and literary brilliance that makes sense of all sides of Grant's life, explaining how this simple Midwesterner could at once be so ordinary and so extraordinary".

Chernow's other books include Titan, a biography of John D. Rockefeller, and The House of Morgan, winner of the National Book Award in 1990.

The 67-year-old author received a National Humanities Medal in 2015, when he was praised for combining "skillful storytelling with a taste for great themes and detailed psychological portraits".

 Author aims to alter image of former US president Grant

Author Ron Chernow will release a biography of Ulysses S. Grant in October. AP

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