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Chernow’s ‘Grant’ offers measured judgment of past

first_imgSix years after Vicksburg fell he was president.And a good one.He was hopelessly naive regarding the rascality unleashed by the sudden post-war arrival of industrialism entangled with government.But the corruptions during his administration showed only his negligence, not his cupidity.More importantly, Grant, says Chernow, “showed a deep reservoir of courage in directing the fight against the Ku Klux Klan and crushing the largest wave of domestic terrorism in American history.”He ranks behind only Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon Johnson as a presidential advancer of African-American aspirations.After the presidency, he was financially ruined by his characteristic misjudgment of the sort of miscreants who abused his trust when he was president. Chernow leans against today’s leveling winds of mindless egalitarianism — the belief that because greatness is rare, celebrating it is undemocratic.And against the populist tear-them-down rage to disparage.The political philosopher Harvey Mansfield, Harvard’s conservative, says education should teach how to praise.How, that is, to recognize excellence of character when it is entwined, as it always is, with flaws.And how to acknowledge excellence of achievement amid the contingencies that always partially defeat good intentions. Chernow’s “Grant” is a gift to a nation presently much in need of measured judgments about its past.George Will is a nationally syndicated columnist with The Washington Post who writes from a conservative perspective.More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidation His rescuer from the wreckage inflicted by a 19th century Madoff was Mark Twain, who got Grant launched on his memoirs.This taciturn, phlegmatic military man of few words, writing at a punishing pace during the agony of terminal cancer, produced the greatest military memoir in the English language, and the finest book published by any U.S. president.Chernow is clear-eyed in examining and evenhanded in assessing Grant’s defects.He had an episodic drinking problem but was not a problem drinker:He was rarely incapacitated, and never during military exigencies or when with his wife, Julia.Far from being an unimaginative military plodder profligate with soldiers’ lives, he was by far the war’s greatest soldier, tactically and strategically, and the percentage of casualties in his armies was, Chernow says, “often lower than those of many Confederate generals.”Sentimentality about Robert E. Lee has driven much disdain for Grant. Chernow’s judgment about Lee is appropriately icy. Categories: Editorial, OpinionWASHINGTON — Evidence of national discernment, although never abundant, can now be found high on the New York Times combined print and e-book best seller list.There sits Ron Chernow’s biography of Ulysses Simpson Grant, which no reader will wish were shorter than its 1,074 pages.Arriving at a moment when excitable individuals and hysterical mobs are demonstrating crudeness in assessing historical figures, Chernow’s book is a tutorial on measured, mature judgment.It has been said that the best biographer is a conscientious enemy of his or her subject — scrupulous but unenthralled.center_img Even after failing to dismember the nation he “remained a southern partisan” who “never retreated from his retrograde views on slavery.”Chernow’s large readership (and the successes of such non-academic historians as Rick Atkinson, Richard Brookhiser, David McCullough, Nathaniel Philbrick, Jon Meacham, Erik Larson and others) raises a question.Why are so many academic historians comparatively little read? Here is a hint from the menu of presentations at the 2017 meeting of the Organization of American Historians.The titles of 30 included some permutation of the word “circulation” (e.g., “Circulating/Constructing Heterosexuality,” “Circulating Suicide as Social Criticism,” “Circulating Tourism Imaginaries from Below”).Obscurantism enveloped in opacity is the academics’ way of assigning themselves status as members of a closed clerisy indulging in linguistic fads.Princeton historian Sean Wilentz, who is impatient with academics who are vain about being unintelligible, confesses himself mystified by the “circulating” jargon.This speaks well of him. Chernow, laden with honors for his biographies of George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, is a true friend of the general who did so much to preserve the nation.And of the unjustly maligned president — the only one between Andrew Jackson and Woodrow Wilson to serve two full consecutive terms.He nobly, if unsuccessfully, strove to prevent the war’s brutal aftermath in the South from delaying, for a century, freedom’s arrival there.After reluctantly attending West Point and competently participating in the war with Mexico, his military career foundered on alcohol abuse exacerbated by the aching loneliness of a man missing his family.His civilian life was marred by commercial failures.Then the war came.Four years after he was reduced to selling firewood on St. Louis streets, he was leading the siege of Vicksburg.last_img read more

South Yorkshire

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Niche market

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Mayor approves Hackney offices

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Comment

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Edinburgh retail: Walk this way

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Planning: Bath pours cold water on coffee shops

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Croydon retail: Reach for the stores

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Local knowledge

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Student reunion

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Orf stars in €3.6bn Hypo loan buyout

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US health officials urge Americans to prepare for spread of coronavirus

first_imgTopics : The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday alerted Americans to begin preparing for the spread of coronavirus in the United States after infections surfaced in several more countries.The announcement signaled a change in tone for the Atlanta-based US health agency, which had largely been focused on efforts to stop the virus from entering the country and quarantining individuals traveling from China.”The data over the past week about the spread in other countries has raised our level of concern and expectation that we are going to have community spread here,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the CDC’s head of respiratory diseases, told reporters on a conference call. What is not known, she said, is when it will arrive and how severe a US outbreak might be. “Disruption to everyday life might be severe” and businesses, schools and families should begin having discussions about the possible impact from the spread of the virus, Messonnier cautioned.In a teleconference later on Tuesday, Dr. Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director, said that while the immediate risk in the United States was low, the current global situation suggested a pandemic was likely.”It’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when and how many people will be infected,” Schuchat said.Separately, US Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar told a Senate subcommittee there will likely be more cases in the United States, and he asked lawmakers to approve $2.5 billion in funding to fight the outbreak after proposing cuts to the department’s budget.center_img “While the immediate risk to individual members of the American public remains low, there is now community transmission in a number of countries, including outside of Asia, which is deeply concerning,” Azar said, adding that recent outbreaks in Iran and Italy were particularly worrying.Believed to have originated from illegal wildlife sold in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, the new coronavirus has infected some 80,000 people and killed close to 2,700 in China.Although the World Health Organization says the epidemic has peaked in China, coronavirus cases have surfaced in about 30 other countries, with some three dozen deaths reported, according to a Reuters tally.Growing outbreaks in Iran, Italy and South Korea have raised concerns that coronavirus will surface in other nations and worsen in those that have already reported infections, further denting a global economy that had already been hit by a dependence on China.Global and US stock markets fell sharply again on Tuesday, as investors feared the epidemic would further damage an already slowing world economy.The White House’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said the US economy would be able to ride out any disruption from the global spread of coronavirus, adding that he did not expect the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates to blunt the disease’s economic impact.US Senator Chuck Schumer, however, said Republican President Donald Trump and his administration had been caught “flat-footed” and lacked a comprehensive plan to deal with the coronavirus. He called for at least $3.1 billion in additional funding to fight it.”The Trump administration has shown towering and dangerous incompetence when it comes to the coronavirus,” said Schumer, the Senate’s top Democrat. “Mr. President, you need to get your act together now. This is a crisis.”Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it would be at least a year before a coronavirus vaccine could be made available to the public.But Fauci said testing Gilead Sciences’ antiviral drug remdesivir for potential treatment of coronavirus could be done in a “reasonable amount of time.”‘Deadly Consequences’US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters that Iran may have covered up information about the spread of coronavirus there, and he accused China of mishandling the epidemic through its “censorship” of media and medical professionals.”The United States is deeply concerned by information indicating the Iranian regime may have suppressed vital details about the outbreak in that country,” Pompeo told reporters as Iran’s coronavirus death toll rose to 16.”All nations, including Iran, should tell the truth about the coronavirus and cooperate with international aid organizations,” Pompeo said.His remarks, coming less than two months after a short-lived US-Iranian military clash and the signing of a US-China trade deal, could inflame tensions with Tehran and Beijing.Beijing last week revoked the credentials of three Wall Street Journal correspondents over a column China said was racist. The United States has said it was considering a range of responses to their expulsion.”Expelling our journalists exposes once again the government’s issue that led to SARS and now the coronavirus: namely censorship. It can have deadly consequences,” Pompeo said, referring to the 2002-2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which also emerged from China.”If China permitted its own and foreign journalists and medical personnel to speak and investigate freely, Chinese officials and other nations would have been far better prepared to address the challenge” of coronavirus, he added.Despite the coronavirus epidemic, Pompeo said the United States still planned to host a special meeting with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Las Vegas in March.last_img read more

PREMIUMState budget deficit may pass 3 percent ceiling if situation gets worse, analyst warns

first_imgLOG INDon’t have an account? Register here Indonesia’s  state budget deficit may surpass the 3 percent ceiling this year as the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and a sharp drop in oil prices could further worsen Indonesia’s economic outlook, a senior economist is warning.The University of Indonesia’s senior economist, Faisal Basri, said the current virus crisis would have a deeper effect on the country’s economy than the financial crisis of 2008 and would further drag down the country’s economic growth.“During the 2008 global financial crisis, the government took several economic decisions. This time, economic policy is blunt to address the virus crisis,” Faisal told The Jakarta Post on Friday. He urged the government to issue a presidential regulation (Perpres) to allow a deficit of more than 3 percent. He feared the deficit would further widen from the government’s proj… Indonesia state-budget Sri-Mulyani-Indrawati Faisal-Basri deficit China COVID-19 impact economic-outlook Linkedin Facebook Log in with your social account Topics : Google Forgot Password ?last_img read more

House urges COVID-19 rapid response team to work faster

first_imgUnlike swab tests that require throat and nasal samples, rapid tests only check blood serum; allowing the test to be done at all health laboratories. Once the rapid tests are available, anyone in the country can undergo the test regardless of whether they exhibit COVID-19 symptoms. The ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician also called on the government to provide free masks and hand sanitizer, prepare sterilization booths in public places and provide more information on areas with confirmed COVID-19 cases and available health services.Apart from handling the pandemic, the government should immediately set an affirmative policy to mitigate its impact on the economy, especially the poor, Puan went on to say.NasDem Party lawmaker Willy Aditya suggested the government take extraordinary steps and raise public awareness on the pandemic, as many people were still unaware its dangers.”That’s why there are still many people holding events, including religious gatherings, despite government advice,” the member of House Commission I overseeing defense said.He referred to an ordination Mass for the new bishop of Ruteng in Manggarai regency, East Nusa Tenggara, which was held and attended by hundreds of people on Thursday despite authorities’ requests to cancel it.Willy demanded the government work with community and religious leaders to raise awareness among the public.”Mobilize the government network and build cooperation. Raise public awareness that this is not about being brave or afraid of the virus, but about loving others, especially the elderly and other vulnerable groups.”Herman Hery, chairman of House Commission III overseeing legal affairs, demanded the National Police to evaluate all permits for mass gatherings. “I appreciate Doni Monardo [rapid-response team leader] who has been proactive in overseeing public activities that have the potential to become a place for the virus transmission. […] The police should further communicate with the people in suspending events involving large crowds,“ the PDI-P politician said. As of Thursday, the government has confirmed 309 COVID-19 positive cases. At least 25 have died from the disease, while 15 have recovered.”The government must provide a massive number of test kits and deploy medical workers to public health service points,” said Puan, who once served as coordinating human development and culture minister.Reports had surfaced about suspected COVID-19 patients having to wait for a long time to get tested for the disease, as referral hospitals faced increasing strains. Only 12 laboratories are permitted to administer tests, as stipulated in a recently issued health ministerial decree.Health authorities are mulling a plan to provide rapid COVID-19 tests across the country. However, it is still unclear on when the rapid test kits will be available. Topics :center_img The House of Representatives has called on the government’s COVID-19 rapid response team to work faster, saying that the team’s effort to accelerate the pandemic handling was not yet apparent.House Speaker Puan Maharani said on Thursday that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration should take further and faster steps as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continued to grow.last_img read more

COVID-19: Four foreigners questioned in Bali after partying despite calls for physical distancing

first_img“Some foreigners had a party at a villa in Canggu district, Badung, Bali, on Sunday evening,” the video was captioned. He added that police also seized a number of mobile phones as evidence in the case.Read also: COVID-19: Bali has no intention of applying large-scale social restrictionsInstagram account @infobalitoday posted on Monday a video showing more than a dozen people partying in a villa on the resort island, ignoring the government’s call for physical distancing to flatten the COVID-19 curve. Police have questioned four foreigners in Bali after a video of people holding a house party during the COVID-19 outbreak was circulated on social media.National Police spokesperson Brig. Gen. Argo Yuwono said that Badung Police officers had questioned the four foreigners, identified by their initials JAM, MDM, YS and EM.“They were ordered to write a statement of compliance, saying they would not repeat their mistakes. They are also required to regularly report to the police,” Argo said during a press briefing on Tuesday.center_img The video shows around a dozen people gathering by a swimming pool, enjoying cocktails and DJing.Badung Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Roby Septiadi said the party seen in the video was held at a villa in Badung on Sunday evening. He said the party organizer initially told police the party would be attended by a limited number of people.However, around 15 people eventually came to the party, kompas.com reported.Roby advised all local residents and foreigners to refrain from holding parties and social gatherings during the outbreak. He added that police would disperse such events, as they violated a gubernatorial instruction on limiting crowds in public places and suspending public events.As of Wednesday noon, 92 confirmed COVID-19 cases had been recorded on the resort island with two deaths. Nationwide, 4,839 cases have been recorded with 459 fatalities. (trn)Topics :last_img read more

Asian shares tick up, eyes on China-US trade relations

first_imgAnalysts expect trading to be subdued with United States and UK markets shut for public holidays.“Nevertheless, focus is likely to be on China’s National People’s Congress, as discussions of political and economic policies continue,” ANZ analysts wrote in a note.“Geopolitics will gain attention as US-China relations continue to represent a downside risk for markets,” ANZ added.On Friday, China proposed imposing national security laws on Hong Kong as Beijing unveiled details of the legislation that critics see as a turning point for the former British colony. Asian shares started cautiously on Monday as central bank largesse globally boosted sentiment but rising trade tensions between the world’s two biggest economies dulled risk appetite.MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.1 percent with South Korea, Australia and New Zealand all starting higher.Japan’s Nikkei jumped 1.5 percent after the Nikkei newspaper reported the country was considering a fresh stimulus package worth over US$929 billion that will consist mostly of financial aid programmes for companies hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The proposal drew the ire of Hong Kong residents who defied social distancing rules and protested on streets while the United States warned Beijing’s move could lead to US sanctions.The US Commerce Department said late on Friday it was adding 33 Chinese companies and other institutions to a blacklist for human rights violations and to address US national security concerns.Sino-US ties have nosedived since the outbreak of the new coronavirus, with the administrations of President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping trading barbs over the pandemic, including accusations of cover-ups and lack of transparency.The two superpowers have also clashed over Hong Kong, human rights, trade and US support for Chinese-claimed Taiwan.At the same time, analysts say extensive central bank stimulus to help blunt the economic shock from the COVID-19 pandemic continues to underpin sentiment and buoy equity markets.Japan, last week, unveiled a lending programme to channel nearly $280 billion to small businesses hit by the coronavirus. India slashed rates for a second time this year and the European Central Bank, in the minutes from its last meeting, said it was ready to expand emergency bond purchases as early as June.Later in the day, investor attention will shift to Germany, where the May IFO survey is expected to show some improvement off a record low base.Action in currencies was a tad muted.The dollar was up 0.1 percent on the Japanese yen at 107.73. The euro held near a one-week trough at $1.0903. Sterling added 0.1 percent to $1.2182 while the Australian dollar gained 0.1 percent to $0.6543 after losses on Thursday and Friday.Rising trade tensions hit oil prices with US crude falling 20 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $33.05 a barrel. Brent was off 31 cents, or 0.9 percent, at 34.82.Spot gold was off a bit at $1,730.5 an ounce.Topics :last_img read more