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  • Writer's pictureMax Sinsheimer

SOLD! Soldier of Destiny (by John Reeves)

I'm delighted to announce the sale of Soldier of Destiny: Slavery, Secession, and the Redemption of Ulysses S. Grant, to Pegasus Books, for publication next Spring.

Soldier of Destiny tells the almost inconceivable tale of Ulysses S. Grant’s redemption over the course of a single decade, from his abrupt exit from the Army for alcohol abuse in 1854, to his appointment as General-in-Chief of the Army in 1864. Much as Erik Larson created a more relatable and nuanced Churchill by focusing on his family life in The Splendid and the Vile, Soldier of Destiny offers a fresh perspective on Grant in part by exploring his fraught relationships with his antislavery father, Jesse Grant, and his slaveholding wife, Julia.

Many Americans do not know that Ulysses and Julia benefited from enslaved laborers during that entire decade. While Grant fought to save the Union during the Civil War, his wife and her family continued to own slaves in Missouri up until 1864. Soldier of Destiny will show Grant’s connection to slavery in far more detail than previous biographies.

Soldier of Destiny is divided into three parts. Part One begins with Grant’s resignation from the Army. He then embarks on a successful new career as a farmer in Missouri on an estate utilizing enslaved labor. But he struggles to make ends meet after the Panic of 1857, and ultimately is forced to accept an offer from Jesse to work in his leather goods store in Galena, Illinois, in 1860. At the beginning of Part Two, Grant attends a boisterous meeting in Galena, shortly after the Confederate firing on Fort Sumter in April 1861. Grant decides to reenlist in the United States Army to suppress the rebellion, choosing the side of his kinfolk over his secessionist neighbors and in-laws in Missouri, and is soon promoted to Major General. Part Three begins with the Vicksburg campaign, perhaps Grant’s greatest military accomplishment, and concludes with a bedraggled Grant arriving at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., to receive his new commission.

A slave cabin at White Haven, Grant's father-in-law's estate outside St. Louis, where Grant lived and worked from 1854-1859. Ulysses managed slaves from 1857 to 1859 when his father-in-law retired from farming.

This will be John's second book with Pegasus, following the publication of A Fire in the Wilderness in 2021. You can learn more about him at

Here is the Publisher's Marketplace deal memo:

"Intricate Destiny" was the original working title that I used to pitch this project. It comes from Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald:

The foregoing has the ring of biography, without the satisfaction of knowing that the hero, like Grant, lolling in his general store in Galena, is ready to be called to an intricate destiny.

In the end we decided Soldier of Destiny was more marketable, but I still love that quote.

Congrats to John and his now long-time editor at Pegasus, Claiborne Hancock!


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