KTM User Pages
05 Jul 2006 - 12:03
Terrific book review ($) in today's Sun:
"I have carefully searched the military records of both ancient and modern history, and have never found Grant's superior as a general," wrote Robert E. Lee. This statement is, in essence, the argument of John Mosier's "Grant: A Biography" (Palgrave Macmillan, 224 pages,. $21.95), an outstanding contribution to General Wesley Clark's Great Generals Series. Indeed, Mr. Mosier's brief for Grant might be called a thesis biography, one that counters other biographies ranking Grant lower as a general, using criteria Mr. Mosier deems suspect. [snip] What distinguished the 40-year-old Grant, Mr. Mosier emphasizes, was his aptitude for the job of generaling and his rugged determination to forge ahead no matter the obstacles. Grant shared with Napoleon an affinity for mathematics, an ability to "compute precisely all the quantitative data required to make correct decisions on the battlefield." This was not a matter of formal education. In fact, Grant taught himself algebra, an indication, Mr. Mosier suggests, of a highly developed "capacity for abstract thought." Grant's predecessor, George McClellan, had more distinguished academic credentials, but McClellan consistently overestimated the Confederate army's strength and lacked Grant's will to engage the enemy in battle. Just as important, Grant had a talent for drawing and painting. Both were required skills at West Point at a time when soldiers were not issued contour maps and were expected to make their own. Wherever Grant fought, Mr. Mosier observes, he had in his mind a visual sense of the terrain. Although Mr. Mosier does not make the comparison, again it is Napoleon, a superb map reader, who comes to mind. Finally, as a third example of what made Grant great, Mr. Mosier mentions his subject's voracious reading of history and fiction. Grant favored novels that gave him insight into human nature and helped him - like Admiral Nelson, I would suggest - identify closely with the men he sent into conflict. At a time when most armies were filled with the dregs of society driven by an arrogant officer class, Grant treated his citizen-soldiers with respect. But there is more to Grant's reading of literature and history that sets him apart from, say, Henry Halleck, Grant's commanding officer for much of the early part of the Civil War. The bumptious Halleck considered himself a military theorist and openly scoffed at what he thought of as the overly aggressive Grant's ignorance of the latest premises of modern warfare. Grant stupidly went right at his enemy, taking huge casualties, rather than concentrating on gaining ground and occupying population centers. The trouble with Halleck's approach - as with McClellan's - was that the South concluded that the Yankees did not want to fight, a belief that reinforced Lee's reputation for invincibility, heartened the Confederacy, and demoralized Northern armies and public opinion. Grant proceeded not by theory but by examining the conditions in which he had to fight, the concrete particulars of history, not abstract models of how war should be fought. [ed.: Grant was a fox, Halleck a hedgehog.] Just as crucial was his ability to translate his vision to his fellow officers. Grant's lucid and engaging memoirs have brought him acclaim, and Mr. Mosier suggests that that same clarity is evident in Grant's orders to trusted colleagues such as Sherman on his way to the siege of Vicksburg:
I've felt for awhile now that math & drawing go together. Actually, I wouldn't be surprised to discover that "profound understanding of fundamental anything" and drawing go together, especially after reading David Mulroy's brilliant defense of sentence diagramming in The War Against Grammar. This summer Christopher and I are doing Singapore bar models for math and sentence diagrams for grammar.
-- CatherineJohnson - 05 Jul 2006 Back to main page.
KtmGuest (password: guest) when prompted.
Please consider registering as a regular user.
Look here for syntax help.