The recent publication of Ron Chernow’s massive biography of U.S. Grant culminates the modern historical trend to laud Grant as a general and as a president. The latter proposition has attracted critics. Not so Grant’s reputation as a general, which authors such as Ed Bonekemper have praised. On May 11th, author Joseph Rose will contend that General U.S. Grant’s vaunted military reputation is, in large part, undeserved. As opposed to his Personal Memoirs and the writings of his staff and other supporters, contemporary first person accounts and correspondence (often from Grant himself) convincingly show how he often blundered on the battlefield and then covered it up later. His extreme bias for or against various Union commander also damaged the country's war effort. Declarations that Grant was not tactically surprised at Shiloh or that he ordered the Army of the Cumberland to ascend Missionary Ridge at Chattanooga sent the author to the New York Public Library in search of primary source materials on these and other battles. The talk will contend that Grant, and the numerous defenders of his generalship and character, have distorted the historical record. Joseph A. Rose grew up reading his father's collection of military works (especially the West Point Atlas of American Wars), and other non-fiction. This began a life-long love of history and geography. During a career in healthcare management, he took a cross-country trip and visited battlefields of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Nothing was out of the ordinary, until internet discussions and debates on the Civil War Western Theater Discussion Board, demonstrated how history, especially in Ulysses S. Grant's case, could be terribly miswritten. Twelve years of research and writing have culminated in a groundbreaking book, Grant Under Fire, that comprehensively analyzes the controversies of the General's military career and after. Rigorously based on primary sources (and letting Grant convict himself by his own writing), the book is a necessary antidote to the ahistorical perspectives assumed by many past and current historians, both popular and academic. Living in New York City, Mr. Rose holds a Bachelor of Arts in Geography from the State University of New York at Albany (now the University at Albany) and a Master of Science in Industrial and Labor Relations from a joint program of Cornell University and Baruch College.
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