top of page feature: Victor! The Final Battle of Ulysses S. Grant

John Farrell: What inspired you to write this book?

Craig von Buseck: My interest in the final two years in the life of Ulysses S. Grant began sometime in the 1990s when I first viewed ‘The Civil War’ by Ken Burns. Living in Virginia during those years, I began a tradition of visiting Civil War battlefields and museums that continues to this day. I am grateful to the amazing battlefield guides and expert staff at the numerous museums, national parks, and historical sites that I have visited since that time.

In the greatest victory of his life, Ulysses S. Grant overcame bankruptcy and fought cancer to save his family from ruin. With Mark Twain as his publisher, Grant wrote an American classic – his Personal Memoirs – confronting Jim Crow racism while securing the future of his wife after his death.

In writing his Personal Memoirs, Grant also fought the ‘Lost Cause’ view that the war was not about slavery, but state’s rights. Like Lincoln, Grant viewed the Civil War as a divine punishment for the sin of slavery. “There had to be an end to slavery,” Grant explained. “… we were fighting an enemy with whom we could not make a peace. We had to destroy him.”

U.S. Grant was underestimated throughout his remarkable life. Then his reputation and legacy were maligned by pro-Confederate ‘Lost Cause’ writers. In the last 30 to 40 years, historians have begun a reexamination of Grant’s contribution to American culture and the cause of freedom. Through the release of Victor!, I hope to be part of restoring Grant to his rightful place in American history.


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