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The Pulitzer Prize–winning biography of Harry S. Truman, whose presidency included momentous events from the atomic bombing of Japan to the outbreak of the Cold War and the Korean War, told by America’s beloved and distinguished historian.
The life of Harry S. Truman is one of the greatest of American stories, filled with vivid characters—Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bess Wallace Truman, George Marshall, Joe McCarthy, and Dean Acheson—and dramatic events. In this riveting biography, acclaimed historian David McCullough not only captures the man—a more complex, informed, and determined man than ever before imagined—but also the turbulent times in which he rose, boldly, to meet unprecedented challenges. The last president to serve as a living link between the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries, Truman’s story spans the raw world of the Missouri frontier, World War I, the powerful Pendergast machine of Kansas City, the legendary Whistle-Stop Campaign of 1948, and the decisions to drop the atomic bomb, confront Stalin at Potsdam, send troops to Korea, and fire General MacArthur. Drawing on newly discovered archival material and extensive interviews with Truman’s own family, friends, and Washington colleagues, McCullough tells the deeply moving story of the seemingly ordinary “man from Missouri” who was perhaps the most courageous president in our history.
- Amazon Sales Rank: #11560 in Books
- Brand: David McCullough
- Published on: 1993-06-14
- Released on: 1993-06-14
- Ingredients: Example Ingredients
- Original language: English
- Number of items: 1
- Dimensions: 9.25" h x 2.20" w x 6.12" l, 3.21 pounds
- Binding: Paperback
- 1120 pages
- ISBN13: 9780671869205
- Notes: 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. Tracking provided on most orders. Buy with Confidence! Millions of books sold!
This warm biography of Harry Truman is both an historical evaluation of his presidency and a paean to the man's rock-solid American values. Truman was a compromise candidate for vice president, almost an accidental president after Roosevelt's death 12 weeks into his fourth term. Truman's stunning come-from-behind victory in the 1948 election showed how his personal qualities of integrity and straightforwardness were appreciated by ordinary Americans, perhaps, as McCullough notes, because he was one himself. His presidency was dominated by enormously controversial issues: he dropped the atomic bomb on Japan, established anti-Communism as the bedrock of American foreign policy, and sent U.S. troops into the Korean War. In this winner of the 1993 Pulitzer Prize, McCullough argues that history has validated most of Truman's war-time and Cold War decisions.
From Publishers Weekly
Cracker-barrel plain in speech and looks, this seemingly ordinary man turned out to be one of our most dynamic presidents. It was Harry S. Truman who ordered the atomic bomb dropped, halted Communists in Turkey and Greece, initiated the Marshall Plan, NATO and the Berlin Airlift, ordered desegregation of the armed forces, established the CIA and the Defense Department, committed U.S. forces to Korea and upheld the principle of civilian control over the military by firing Gen. Douglas MacArthur. McCullough ( Mornings on Horseback ) has written a surefooted, highly satisfying biography of the 33rd president, one that not only conveys in rich detail Truman's accomplishments as a politician and statesman, but also reveals the character and personality of this constantly-surprising man--as schoolboy, farmer, soldier, merchant, county judge, senator, vice president and chief executive. The book relates how Truman (1884-1972) overcame the stigma of business failure and debt (as well as the accusation that he was "bellboy" to Kansas City's Pendergast machine) and acquired a reputation for honesty, reliability and common sense. McCullough pays considerable attention to Truman's family, especially his fervent and touching courtship of Bess Wallace, the idolized love of his life. Her mother never felt Truman was good enough for her daughter, even after he became president. The book's re-creation of the 1948 presidential campaign, during which Newsweek 's poll of 50 political writers predicted that the incumbent would lose the election to Thomas Dewey, is the most complete account of that surprise victory to date. The book is an impressive tribute to a man whose brisk cheerfulness and self-confidence were combined with a God-fearing humility; a great and good man who, in McCullough's opinion, was a great president. Photos not seen by PW. BOMC main selection; History Book Club and QPB alternatives; author tour.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
McCullough's life of Harry Truman is a Sandburg's Lincoln for the 1990s. Biographer of Theodore Roosevelt, historian of the Johnstown flood, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Panama Canal, clearly McCullough found not just a new subject but a hero too when he began research in 1982. As with Roosevelt in Mornings on Horseback ( LJ 5/15/81), he is concerned above all with defining Truman's character. With poetry and reverence he writes of the farmer, haberdasher, and local official whom accident and ambition raised to unprecedented power, yet who left the White House an American everyman. Skeptics uneasy with McCullough's Truman in mystic communion with America's spirit will recall the raw politics described by Richard Miller in Truman: The Rise to Power ( LJ 12/85). For detailed treatment of policy, scholars will often need a specialized monograph. Yet McCullough's Truman is not quite a saint, and his own scholarship is exhaustive in portraying Truman the man. No biography approaches the richness, depth, or grace of this one. For all libraries. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/92.
- Robert F. Nardini, North Chichester, N.H.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Most helpful customer reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful.
Harry Truman’s Victory Lap
By Michael Griswold
I’ve been on a big presidential kick lately with the 2016 Presidential Election around a month away. So with that in mind, I will offer my thoughts on Truman. On the positive, I think he did a magnificent job covering Harry Truman as far as giving the reader the broad experience of his life before, during, and after the presidency. For my money, you can’t get any better than the sections on the events leading up to the firing of Douglas Macarthur and his defeat of Thomas Dewey in 1948.
I felt like while it was a well-written biography that kept me engaged through 1000 pages, I felt like it reinforced the popular image of Harry Truman as a plain spoken man of principles who knew how to make the tough decisions and made them. While there is certainly nothing wrong with it, it felt like anything that didn’t compete was glossed over like his association with the Pendergast Machine in Missouri or the depth of his feelings for FDR, I thought this could’ve added a little more depth because many people already understand the popular perception of Harry Truman.
Well written, but largely reinforcing the “popular” image of Harry Truman.
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful.
By Priscilla Virelli
I have read many of David McCullough's books, only two more to go, but this one was the absolute best. He brought Truman to life for me. He made that whole era, WW! into the Korean War come alive. Every character, every scene, was like I knew exactly what he was talking about. His love of Bess and then his daughter...his protection of the privacy of his family....his loyalty...this was the best read for me and, believe me, I loved The Great Bridge and the story of the Panama Canal...Path Between the Seas....but Truman was so very special. If you have a love of history you will enjoy this book from beginning to end and don't let the length of it discourage you from starting it because it just flies by. When I finished it I felt that I had laid to rest my very best friend. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful.
An excellent read, but too hagiographical.
By Narzul Patrick
I knew little about Truman and this book has been fascinating. Beyond the facts themselves, it's very well written and I've read it quickly, with sustained pleasure. As a result, it would have been more logical to give it 5 stars, instead of 4. The only reason why I didn't, is that it is a bit too much of an hagiography. If I can understand his use of the atomic bombs against Japan, I think that his decision to go beyond the 38th parallel in Korea in October 1950, was a major mistake (since then, we have seen other American presidents getting embroiled in similar wars they cannot control...). McCullough puts the main blame on MacArthur, but this is disingenuous: it is Truman who gave the green light. How many American soldiers died for, basically, nothing?