Engaged in a furious race against time as cancer attacked his body, Ulysses S. Grant wrote his memoirs with military efficiency, churning out as many as 10,000 words in a single day. (Take it from me–that’s an insane level of output.) Grant was desperate to finish his memoirs, which Mark Twain would publish, before dying so that he didn’t leave his family destitute.
Aided by salubrious mountain air and prescribed injections of brandy and cocaine topical swabs, Grant kept writing–even when he could no longer speak. The result? A 366,000-word tome that outsold Twain’s latest work, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
I was glad to narrate this story for Our American Stories with Lee Habeeb. Click here to give it a listen.

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