By (author) Ev Ehrlich
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Grant Speaks by Ev Ehrlich
Book DescriptionWhether putting Generals Burnside, Hooker, and Robert E. Lee in their place, or listening to foul-mouthed General Sherman, Hiram Ulysses S. 'Useless' Grant offers an amusingly warped perspective on the Civil War.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780446523875
(229mm x 152mm x 27mm)
Imprint: Warner Books
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Publish Date: 14-Sep-2000
Country of Publication: United States
US Kirkus Review » The recent glut of fiction grounded in American history continues apace with this entertaining second novel from the author of Big Government (1998), purportedly the story of the previously unknown first draft of our 18th president's published Memoirs.Ehrlich's protagonist and narrator is in reality, we're assured, Hiram Ulysses Grant, an underachieving misfit who profited from a tragic accident by appropriating the identity of his much-admired namesake and neighborrenowned as Useful, in contrast to his usurper (locally dubbed Useless). If you buy this particular stretcher, you'll enjoy Ehrlich's/Useless's vividly detailed re-creations of Grant's serendipitous career at West Point, distinguished service in the Mexican War (a sequence that compares interestingly with Jeff Shaara's Gone for Soldiers, p. 506), business failures and descent into alcoholism, greater military success as Civil War Commander of the Union Army of the Potomac, and postwar tenure as a chief executive hamstrung by widespread graft and `an endless parade of speculators, victimized Negroes, and displaced Indians. Ehrlich gives this Grant a marvelously flexible and sardonic colloquial voice, and enlivens his story with briskly retold heroic tales (the campaigns of Shiloh and Vicksburg are especially well depicted). There are several fine flinty characterizations, notably that of Grant's military colleague (and perhaps dark other half ?), the foulmouthed, manic-depressive General William T. Sherman. But two grievous errors stand out: Ehrlich's inexplicable decision to portray Abraham Lincoln as a cackling, vainglorious redneck (a blot on the novel barely qualified by Grant's later testimony to Lincoln's greatness), and the several coincidental reappearances, in different circumstances and guises, of the real Ulysses S. Grantand the manner in which this eccentric plot constituent is permitted to jerry-rig the harshly ironic conclusion.It's still a pretty good book, especially in its lively first half. Ehrlich has invaded Thomas Bergers territory and emerged (as might be expected) without victory, but without disgracing himself either. (Kirkus Reviews)
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