Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library historians Louie Gallo, left, and John Marszalek were two of the four authors of the library’s new book “Hold on With a Bulldog Grip: A Short Study of Ulysses S. Grant” along with David Nolen and Frank Williams. The book is this year’s MSU Maroon Edition book, which all new undergraduates on campus will read. 

This semester, all new Mississippi State University undergraduates will read a new biography produced by the Ulysses S. Grant Library at MSU.

The book titled “Hold on with a Bulldog Grip: A Short Study of Ulysses S. Grant,” is a short biography and study of the former president and Civil War hero. The book summarizes several commonly discussed aspects of Grant.

The book resulted from discussions between MSU President Mark Keenum and Giles Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History John Marszalek. The book was authored by Marszalek along with Grant Library historians Louie Gallo and David Nolen and former Rhode Island Chief Justice Frank Williams. Keenum also wrote an afterward for the book.

”The Maroon Edition has been going on for about the past 10 years,” Marszalek said. “The university gives every incoming freshman and transfer student a copy of the Maroon Edition book for the year. Last year it was one of John Grisham’s.”

He said Keenum had hoped “Hold on With a Bulldog Grip” would be complete in time to be used as the 2019 Maroon Edition book.

“He put a call on us to come up with something short, because you’re going to give it to students,” Gallo said. “They wanted something short and concise that would tell the story of Grant.”

The project started in spring 2018, with the book completed in August of the same year. It was published by the University Press of Mississippi.

The book is not a complete biography, but instead attempts to set straight sometime of the mythology surrounding Grant.

“What we try to do in this book and in the museum and the library and all, is just present the facts,” Marszalek said.

Marszalek said he hoped the book would show the students reading it that they could relate to Grant.

The title of the book is based on a quote in a letter sent to Grant from Abraham Lincoln during a battle. Grant was also often portrayed as a bulldog in political cartoons of the day.

“He’s telling Grant to go after this guy and do what you’re doing, and the result is going to be that you’re going to end up winning this war, and that’s what happened,” Marszalek said.


For more on this story, read Thursday's Starkville Daily News.

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