Sunday, May 13, 2018

the last book I ever read (Grant by Ron Chernow, excerpt four)

from Grant by Ron Chernow:

Both Grant and Sherman were damaged souls who would redeem tarnished reputations in the brutal crucible of war. They were both haunted men, tough and manly on the outside, but hypersensitive to criticism, and they sustained each other at troubled moments. Even though Sherman was more prolix and irascible than Grant, their letters display generosity, trust, and mutual admiration. As one of Grant’s officers wrote, “In all the annals of history no correspondence between men in high station furnishes a nobler example of genuine, disinterested personal friendship and exalted loyalty to a great cause.

Sherman spent decades pondering the mystery of Grant’s personality. “He is a strange character,” he wrote. “Nothing like it is portrayed by Plutarch or the many who have striven to portray the great men of ancient or modern times.” While never as talkative as Sherman, Grant opened up to him and even confided in him about his drinking problem. “We all knew at the time that Genl. Grant would occasionally drink too much,” said Sherman. “He always encouraged me to talk to him frankly of this and other things and I always noticed that he could with an hour’s sleep wake up perfectly sober and bright, and when anything was pending he was invariably abstinent of drink.” With facetious overstatement, Sherman once remarked, “He stood by me when I was crazy and I stood by him when he was drunk, and now, sir, we stand by each other always.”

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