A decorated war hero, Ulysses S. Grant was the U.S. Army's first four-star general and the first Gilded Age President to serve back-to-back terms. Though he struggled as a young cadet, Grant returned to the military after a string of civilian business failures. His successes on the battle field brought him a wave of popularity that swept him into the Presidency in 1868. Credited with maintaining stability in the era of Reconstruction and for fostering the continued unity of the nation, he is perhaps most remembered for his second term which was marred by financial scandals and an ineffective cabinet. In 1885, Grant died nearly broke, as a victim of a swindle. His memoirs were published posthumously by friend and literary giant, Mark Twain.
Jean Edward Smith is a senior scholar in the History Department at Columbia University and professor emeritus of political science at the University of Toronto. He is the author of Grant, a 2002 Pulitzer Prize finalist, as well as biographies of General Lucius D. Clay (1990), John Marshall (1996), Franklin D. Roosevelt (2007), and most recently, Dwight D. Eisenhower (2012). FDR, his biography of Roosevelt, won the 2008 Francis Parkman Prize of the Society of American Historians for the best nonfiction book on an American theme published the previous year. He is presently at work on a biography of George W. Bush.