Brendan’s Alternate Tagline: I’m a big fan too, but this borders on hero worship.
Quick synopsis: The life of Ulysses S. Grant, mostly focused on his Civil War exploits.
Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like: Grant was actually gifted a slave by his in-laws. When he was nearly broke (which was constantly), he actually manumitted his slave, William Jones, without any payments changing hands.
Fun Fact for History Nerds: Ulysses S. Grant was not his name. It was Ulysses H. Grant. A clerical mistake at West Point changed it. When Grant pointed it out, he was told, in essence, “Well, you are now.”
My Take: I enjoyed this, but it leaves a lot out and simplifies way too much.
If you know the story of Ulysses S. Grant, then you know his entire life revolves around a few things.
First, he was a drunk. There are a lot of arguments over how much of a drunk he was and when, but there is no argument he had an alcohol problem. The show glosses over this way too much.
Second, his love for Julia (and vice versa) was amazingly important to him. Their relationship was extremely strong and romantic. Proof? Julia had a wandering eye (literally not figuratively). When it was suggested that a surgery could correct it, she set an appointment. Grant never tried to exert control over Julia and left her to make decisions herself. However, he did send a letter saying, “I don’t want to have your eyes fooled with. They are all right as they are. They look just as they did the very first time I ever saw them – the same eyes I looked into when I fell in love with you – the same eyes that looked up into mine and told me that my love was returned…” She cancelled her surgery. The show does not cover their relationship enough.
Third, Grant was an amazing general. The show nails this perfectly.
Fourth, Grant was a good intended president who is ultimately a failure because he trusted the wrong people. The show truly stumbles. It tries to flatter him entirely too much and not dig into what makes him lowly ranked as a president.
Verdict: It’s a good watch but feels very incomplete if you know Grant or the time period.
If You Liked This Try:
- Washington (History Channel)
- Chernobyl (HBO)
- Saints & Strangers (National Geographic)
- John Adams (HBO)