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Truman by [McCullough, David]
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Truman Kindle Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 182 customer reviews

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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 second 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.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 7060 KB
  • Print Length: 1120 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (Aug. 20 2003)
  • Sold by: Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC0VVQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 182 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #86,481 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I decided to read this book for two reasons. First, I was/am an avid supporter of Howard Dean, and he often cites Truman as his favorite president, and knowing so little about Truman, I was curious why. Second, practically the only thing I did know about Truman was that he made the decision to use the Bomb, and I was extremely interested in what sort of man it takes to make such a decision.
The book is 992 pages long - daunting to someone whose only other 500+ page read had been Lord of the Rings.
But I found each page interesting and riveting. Never did I find it slow or dull. I had no idea how much impact the Truman administration had on the country and the world. Not only the Bomb, but the start of the Cold War, the Korean War, the first push by a President for universal health care, the first push by a President for equal civil rights. Truman, an ordinary farmer from western Missouri, is the absolute example of the American dream.
The book also answered both of my questions. The similarities in Truman's approach to politics and his agenda with Howard Dean's campaign for the presidential nomination are uncanny. And, to my surprise, Truman was not at all the sort of man I imagined making the decision to obliterate Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
I feel like I've learned more from this one book than I learned in 17 years of schooling.
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Format: Paperback
This book could have benefited from the hand of an editor determined to cut out some of the slower moving passages. I skipped paragraphs and sometimes pages without finding I'd missed anything of consequence when I went back to see if I was being too harsh. Over all it is a good read but probably should have been a 750 page book instead of a thousand. It also tends to defend most of Truman's actions while criticizing those of opposite viewpoints. Truman's devotion to the political machine in his home state begs for more in depth analysis than the author gives it. All in all I reccommend this book but also suggest that other authors be read before forming a definitive conclusion on this complex and interesting person.
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Format: Paperback
This is probably one of the best biographies I have ever read. McCullough is a fantastic writer and I feel I really got to know who Truman was and I enjoyed spending time with him, reading about his life. As the book came to a close, I can honestly say that I was sad to see him go. It reads quickly, you hardly notice how long it is. However, this is not a political biography but rather a personal one. We get to know Truman the man. If you are looking for a political history of Truman's presidency this isn't it.

Truman was definitely one of America's greatest Presidents and he made some of the most momentous decisions, good and not so good, of the twentieth century. He was on the one hand, an honest, hard working American trying to do the right thing, yet was the product of a political machine, a system he believed in. Although he was always faithful to his friends, many of them were of dubious character. But I think that's what made him human. He tried to do what he always thought was best, what he believed in, even if it was not popular. For that you have to respect him, even if you disagree with his decisions. Five stars is not enough for this wonderful book!
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Format: Paperback
McCullough shows how a seemingly ordinary man achieved extraordianry things, with one event after another flowing by, carefully cross-referenced. Nowadays it is fashionable to regard Andrew Jackson as an extraordinary hero, but in his time Jackson was seen as a rather basic and plain-spoken antidote to his patrician Presidential predecessors. Yet after reading McCullough's book one is left to wonder whether Truman's extraodinary career is because, rather than possessing extraodinarily heroic qualities, he simply turned out to be the right American in the right place at the right time, a key maybe to the American secret?

I had hoped to read more of his relationship with Pendergast, particularly about Truman's unprecedented attendance, as Vice-President, at Pendergast's funeral, and the great controversy it aroused. (Maybe one day someone, probably not McCullough, will try to write a book about Truman as Vice-President?)

Truman's nuanced relationship with General Marshall is especially well covered in McCullough's book, with the mindset and background to Truman's recognition of the State of Israel being described in great detail, but also with Marshall's considered viewpoint being well described, and in such a way as not to demonize either man, as some writers are wont to do, depending on their views.

Maybe the most extraordinary of Truman's achievements was to be the only leader thus far in history to 'press the nuclear button' in war, and make America look moral and virtuous in the aftermath.
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Format: Paperback
Once you get through the first 50 to 100 pages of this book, it is almost impossible to put down. Even if you're not enchanted of politics or of politicians (as I'm not) you will probably find this book fascinating, moving, inspirational, humorous, and hard to put down.
Harry Truman seems to have charmed and inspired loyalty in almost everyone who knew him well--and for fairly obvious reasons since he was loyal, hard-working, friendly, principled, considerate, and often wise. The author, David McCullough, seems to have fallen under Truman's spell to some extent, though he presents the facts needed for a reader to make his own judgment. You will read about some of the flaws of the man also; such as the fact that he was too loyal to some people who did not deserve his loyalty; the circumstances in which he ran his mouth, said stupid things, and caused scandal; his blindness to some of the realities (such as thinking that Joe McCarthy would soon fade away).
In the end, though, I came away from the book feeling that David McCullough found the right tone and the right voice for presenting this remarkable man who was rooted in the best ideals of an America of an earlier time. One of the most remarkable things about Truman was that he rarely seemed to have a "split personality" as many modern politicians do. He was generally consistent and true to himself and his ideals even under great pressure to sell out and play political games. He took a lot of heat at the time for some of his stands, but seems to have fared much better in the eyes of later generations because of his fidelity and overall wisdom.
Throughout the book I couldn't help rooting for Harry Truman. He's just so darn likable that you want to see him succeed.
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