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Fascinating and first rate
runamokprods7 November 2013
First rate telling of the story of a President and national hero comparatively forgotten in modern America (I know he seemed la minor note in my American history education). The fact is, Grant was more popular than Lincoln in his time, and had a huge effect on America both during and after the war.

Grant was a man full of fascinating contradictions. After a series of terrible failures in civilian life he became a huge success as a General, leading the north to victory in the Civil War after things had looked quite bleak(but only after a couple of reversals of fortune of his own along the way). A fierce, almost heartless warrior, he was also a tender and deeply devoted family man, almost to the point of obsession. A shy man, not given to speeches, who led with a quiet strength and self-discipline, and yet was also, by most accounts a functioning (ad at times barely functioning) alcoholic. The son of an abolitionist, Grant owned slaves himself, and saw slaves as inferior beings, only to be open minded enough to slowly come to embrace their emancipation not only as a military tactic, but as a moral stance. He became a fighter for African-American rights as a General and a President. A physically small man, humble in many ways, who rose to greatness, only to be knocked down (and rise up) repeatedly after the war. A man brilliant enough to be a great leader in war, but naive enough to be taken in by con-men as President.

For me, the first part was the more powerful of the two, perhaps because it covered fewer years, plus the sheer emotional power of the war itself; the overwhelming loss of life, and drama of the struggle make it hard for his later life in politics to pack quite the same punch. But I found all of it highly interesting, and unlike some of the always well made American Experience films, I learned a great deal I didn't know, not only about a seminal American figure, but also about the Civil War and Reconstruction as well.
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The second part of a must-see biography on one of the greatest Americans of the 19th century.
MartinHafer16 December 2011
This is the second part of the wonderful two-part biography of Ulysses Grant that was shown on "The American Experience" on PBS television. These are must-see documentaries--exceptionally well made and fascinating throughout.

Part two has to do with the life of Grant following the US Civil War. Although I am a retired history teacher, I must admit that I didn't know all that much about the Grant administrations as President--other than knowing about the wide-spread corruption for which it's known for today. However, this show re-framed his administration and pointed out many exceptional qualities of the man that I really did not know. The most admirable is his support for full citizenship rights for Black-Americans as well as decent treatment of the native tribes. He was responsible for enforcing civil rights and crushing the KKK--a sharp contrast to the prior (Johnson) administration that sought to restore the old racist class system in the South. Also, I did not get the impression he was a bad man at all--and there was a lot to admire about him. He appeared to be a good family man and loving husband. But, unfortunately, he was also woefully naive--a man who didn't quite realize how despicable some of his 'friends' in Washington were. Perhaps he was too nice a guy. Because of this, seeing his MANY downturns in his later life was a bit sad to watch--yet still fascinating and exceptionally made throughout. Well worth seeing and a must for any history buff.

By the way, this and part one were re-shown in January, 2011.
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