Books: Captain from Ohio

CAPTAIN SAM GRANT (512 pp.)—Lloyd Lewis—Little, Brown ($6).

When genial, whirlwind Managing Editor Lloyd Downs Lewis emptied out his desk at the Chicago Daily News one day in 1945 and said goodbye to his staff, he was headed for no slippered retirement. Instead he went off to his home in suburban Libertyville, Ill. to get busy on the biggest story of his career: the life of General Ulysses S. Grant.

It was no flash decision. Already the author of a lively biography of William Tecumseh Sherman (1932), Lewis had been collecting research on Grant for...