Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ulysses S. Grant-The Limited Talent?

Was Ulysses S. Grant an idiot savant? I'm being facetious here but he was one of the most interesting figures in the Civil War. I've been reading about him in Winston Groom's Vicksburg 1863. I think it's interesting to understand our historical figures as human beings. As a novelist, that interests me.

Prior and after the war, he failed at so many jobs. He was a country store clerk, farmer, real estate salesman and wood peddler. After the war, he served as President and a failed businessman.

The man could not succeed at nothing but soldiering and horse riding. He had only two talents in life.

The Civil War clearly threw him a lifeline. If peace had remained, he would have died a miserable failure as a country store clerk. The war gave him scope for one of his two talents. There are people like that. Winston Churchill was another. If not for the Second World War, Churchill would have languished during his remaining days as a failed politician on the fringes of Britain's Conservative Party. I also think of Oskar Schindler. He was another man who failed at everything he did in peacetime.

Indeed, there are some people who are made for war. The chaos and irregularity call for their talents. They become needed.

These wars turn into tragedies for many but opportunities for a few.

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