SLU historian’s new book shows Grant’s military skill

Photo submittedHarry S. Laver
Photo submittedHarry S. Laver

Southeastern Louisiana University military historian Harry S. Laver has written a newly released work on the leadership skills and qualities of Civil War Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.

“The Leadership of Ulysses S. Grant: A General Who Will Fight” provides a detailed study of leadership based on Grant’s rise from an undisciplined cadet to commanding general of the U.S. Army, Laver said.

A professor of history and political science, Laver said Grant displayed his uncommon drive early in the Civil War in the battles of Shiloh and Vicksburg.

“He later demonstrated his integrity, determination and tactical skill by taking control of the Union troops and leading his forces to victory,” said Laver, a specialist in U.S. military history and the American Civil War.

He notes that many attribute Grant’s success to superior technology and manpower and even a ruthless willingness to sacrifice his own men. Laver disputes that argument, however.

“The only viable explanation for Grant’s success,” he said, “lies in his leadership skill, professional competence and unshakable resolve.”

Virginia Tech Civil War expert William C. Davis said Laver’s book shows Grant as a subtle and sophisticated leader, unlike his portrayal as a “crude and clumsy butcher” in other historical works.

“The Leadership of Ulysses S. Grant: A General Who Will Fight” was published by the University Press of Kentucky and is available at Amazon.com and other booksellers. Laver has also written the book “Citizens More than Soldiers: The Kentucky Militia and Society in the Early Republic” and co-edited with Jeffrey J. Matthews “The Art of Command: Military Leadership from George Washington to Colin Powell.”