The old thinking on U.S. Grant, we know too well: Grant is a stolid, centered, military professional who eschews politics to form a close working relationship with the Administration.

Having mentioned Simon on Friday, I should recap all the new thinking on Grant. This is cartoonish, but will have to do:

Brooks Simpson - Grant was a political animal.

William McFeely - Grant was neurotic and unstable.

John Simon - Grant was at odds with Lincoln and Stanton.

Jean Smith - Grant was as good a president as he was a general.

The clearest delineation of Simpson's thesis is in a less recent work, which is linked above. Smith's book appeared last year and had lots of good military details that are seldom mentioned, such as Halleck's repeated efforts to supersede Grant with almost anybody else. McFeely has just laid an egg (in November 2003), which we'll examine this week.

To get a comprehensively revisionist view of Grant, the reader has to digest all four authors. There are worse chores.