1885. first edition. The Greatest Military Memoir Ever WrittenGRANT, Ulysses S. Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant. New York: Charles L. Webster & Company, 1885-1886. First edition. Two large octavo volumes (8 13/16 x 5 5/8 inches; 224 x 144 mm.). [2, blank], 584, [2, blank]; [2, blank], 647, [1, errata], [2, blank] pp. Fifty maps and illustrations, including two steel-engraved frontispiece portraits and two etched views, all with tissue-guards, a dedication by Grant in holograph facsimile, a folding fac-simile of General Buckner's Dispatch relating to Terms of capitulation, a folding fac-simile of the Original Terms of Lee's Surrender as Written by General Grant, and a folding map of The Seat of the War - 1861 to 1965.Publisher's sheep binding. Spines with four raised bands ruled in gilt, red and dark blue morocco labels lettered in gilt, plain end-papers, edges sprinkled brown. Front joint and spine headcap of volume II expertly repaired, otherwise a near fine set.Commissioned by Mark Twain (publishing under the rubric Charles L. Webster) to provide the terminally ill Grant with the means for his family's security, the Memoirs remain the most respected and admired military autobiography ever written, arguably the only one to achieve status as literature though Grant made no pretensions to such. He was concise, clear, low-key and simple, focusing upon his military career, only touching upon his youth, and ignoring his Presidency altogether.... this is the simple soldier, who, all untaught of the silken phrase-makers, linked words together with an art surpassing the art of the schools and put into them a something which will still bring to American ears, as long as America shall last, the roll of his vanished drums and the tread of his marching hosts (Twain).Grant suffered greatly in his last year of life. In constant pain from throat cancer, he sometimes had the feeling he was choking. Despite his agony, he wrote furiously, sometimes finishing twenty-five to fifty pages a day. In June 1885, as the cancer metastasized, the family moved to Mount MacGregor, New York, to make Grant more comfortable. Propped up on chairs, and too weak to walk, Grant worked intensely to finish the book. Friends, admirers and even a few former Confederate opponents made their way to Mount MacGregor to pay their respects, and Grant finished the manuscript on July 18, 1885. He died five days later. Volume One was issued shortly afterward.Upon publication, the book received universal critical praise. Twain compared it to Julius Caesar's Commentaries, and Matthew Arnold praised Grant and his book in an 1886 essay. Later, modernist Gertrude Stein, an ardent admirer of the book, asserted that she could not think of Grant without weeping. The Memoirs quickly became a best seller, and the Grant family, who received a very generous royalty, earned approximately $450,000 (greater than $10 million in 2009 dollars) from the book. Grant had succeeded; his family was forever safe. And while it was never his priority, Grant's reputation entered the firmament of the immortals. (Inventory #: 03753)
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