Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Five top brief biographies

Paul Johnson's latest book is Darwin.

One of his five favorite brief biographies, as told to the Wall Street Journal:
Ulysses S. Grant
by Michael Korda (2004)

Americans make very good biographers for thoroughness. But they write on an ample scale, and short biographies are rare. But they do occur, and one I admire is Michael Korda's "Ulysses S. Grant." Here was a man whose early life was humble and marked by failure, but once he got a grip on success he was unusually proficient. He contrived to end the Civil War, and to end it on a note of grace, to serve two terms as president, and then to write one of the most successful books in American literature. As Korda says, in the late 19th century, in every American home, you could count on finding two books, the Bible and Grant's memoirs. Korda manages to bring this man alive, and nail down his qualities and significance, in 158 short pages.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue