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The General and Julia, Jon Clinch

This recently released book is historical fiction on the relationship between General Grant and Julia, his wife. Historical facts mixed with mind and interpretation of the voices from the past. Clinch switched from Grant’s final 40 days of his life, to episodes in the past that had a significant impact on him. Grant wasn’t educated.. an educated man possesses the future and a diploma to carry into it, while a self-made man has only his past, and he must forever be trotting it out for inspection. Notable points of interest – Grant’s family were abolitionists from Ohio while Julia’s family owned slaves and were from Missouri. Grant scoffs at religion and prayer while Julia lives by it. In order for Grant to continue to write and eventually finish his memoirs days before his death, the doctor injected a combination of anesthetics and raw intoxicants  - brandy, chloroform, cocaine, laundanum, and morphine.. all to keep the throat cancer at bay. Grant’s son, Buck, got his father unknowingly into financial dealing with his partners -  Ward and Fish, that eventually bankrupted him and his friends and their fortune… tens of millions of dollars lost. Grant’s every investment, and his friends and associates all turned to dust. Being fleeced by Ward changed Grant’s entire life. It made him lose everything – wealth, reputation, health, self-respect. His friend – Vanderbilt saved him financially; Mark Twain (Clemens) helped with Grant’s memories which  saved his legacy. What we know, and what seems to be is though, as time goes forward, our precious present will turn from memory into history, from history into legend, and then seemingly fade away. This book makes me want to visit Grant’s and Julia’s tomb in upper Manhattan, the largest mausoleum in North America… and if you know your history, rightfully so.


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