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.
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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Good News. Harry Truman.
On the eve of my 87th birthday, I have finished David McCullough's biography of The Man from Independence, Mo. I was 22 when Dewey Defeats Truman was in the Chicago Tribune. At my college, out of my voting state, I watched a talented college young man offer 100 to 1 odds that Dewey would win. To be brief, he could not pay off his debts, & was mortified.
Mr. McCullough's bio of Truman is a great read for anyone with the desire to know American history. David M. It seems to me, has similar characteristics as those of his subject. Rate patience, and honesty, rare in this day and age. I recommend this masterpiece to anyone who feels unbiased about politics. I was raised in a staunch Republican home, became disenchanted as I grew older. I am now a registered Independent.
Thank you Mr. McCullough
OMITTED RED INFLUENCE
It is sad to say, this portrayal of Truman’s policy on the home front is almost entirely fiction. That he was a visceral anti-Communist is not in doubt. However, he seemed to know little about the way the Soviets and their U.S. agents functioned, or their presence in the government he headed, and didn’t show much interest in learning. This ennui persisted despite the myriad FBI reports supplied to the White House and Truman cabinet about the vast extent and serious nature of the penetration. Accordingly, not only was the security problem not cleaned up by 1950, some of the most flagrant suspects imaginable were flourishing in the federal workforce under Truman’s watch.