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Affection and Trust: The Personal Correspondence of Harry S. Truman and Dean Acheson, 1953-1971 Hardcover – Deckle Edge, November 2, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1ST edition (November 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307593541
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307593542
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #564,592 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A deep affection existed between President Truman, a self-educated Midwesterner and the only 20th-century president who didn't attend college , and his secretary of state, Dean Acheson, a wealthy Ivy league sophisticate. Researching his biography of Truman at the Truman Library, McCullough came across the extensive correspondence that began as both left office. More than 80% of the letters cover Eisenhower's administration. No more prescient than other statesmen, neither Truman nor Acheson doubted the overwhelming threat of communism. Both considered Ike deplorably weak (subsequent historians disagree) and his secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, unnecessarily pugnacious (subsequent historians agree). Both men also sound surprisingly contemporary as they worry about right-wing extremists taking over the Republican Party. Like all letters, these contain gossip about friends and spouses, vacation itineraries, and news of birthdays, holidays, awards, and medical problems. Many readers may skim these parts, but overall they will receive an insightful, if sometimes partial, view of cold war world politics through the eyes of two thoroughly admirable American leaders. 12 illus. (Nov.) (c)
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From Booklist

A revelatory collection of letters, these missives exchanged between a former president and his secretary of state defy simple characterization. They contain political gossip and plans for speeches and for Truman’s library and memoirs. Interpersonally, they are infused with mutual esteem expressed in thanks for visits, book recommendations, and commiseration over advancing age’s accumulation of ailments and deceased friends. How did two men so opposite as Truman, the Missouri farmer, and Acheson, an epitome of the East Coast establishment, get along so well? Truman biographer David McCullough explores the question in his insightful introduction, suggesting a consonance of the men’s political principles as the basis of their friendship, which deepened, or so it seems from these letters, through their low opinion of Truman’s successors, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson. But perhaps the explanation resides in the way they valued candor. After Acheson brutally critiqued the manuscript of Truman’s memoir, its author replied: “There’s nothing worse for a man’s character than friends who tell him always how good he is.” Valuable to historians, the divulgences in these letters will equally intrigue history readers. --Gilbert Taylor

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Customer Reviews

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A deferential Acheson referred to Truman as Mr. President, Boss, or, rarely, Mr. Truman.
Keith Wheelock
There is a complete listing of all letters at the end of the book, as well as a quite detailed index which is very helpful.
Ronald H. Clark
The only two things these men had in common were a love of their country and a love of fine clothes.
N Crosby

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ronald H. Clark VINE VOICE on November 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have long felt that reading someone's published letters, if the editors have done their job, is one of the best ways to really understand the character and outlook of the subject. This is certaintly true in the cases of Henry Adams and Justice Holmes, for example. I think one reason for this is that the authors are not writing for publication, so they are more informal and less inclined to posture. The real person tends to shine through more clearly.

This book contains the "personal correspondence" between former President Truman and Dean Acheson, his monumental Secretary of State, between 1953 and 1971, that is the period after Truman had left the White House. The book is very well designed by its editors, David Acheson (son of Dean) and Ray Geselbracht. First there is a brief Introduction by David McCullough, who has written extensively on Truman. The letters themselves are presented chronologically in eight chapters, identified by the prominent themes discussed. Each chapter has a superb picture and short introduction by the editors framing the larger context. Usually, each letter itself has a brief introduction explaining references, background, and context. There is a complete listing of all letters at the end of the book, as well as a quite detailed index which is very helpful.

The pictures really add to the contributions of the book. My favorite heads chapter 1, and shows Truman returning from his Wake Island Conference in 1950 with General MacArthur. Here is the essence of the Truman presidency, as HST stands surrounded by such luminary figures as Averell Harriman, George Marshall, Omar Bradley, and of course Acheson. Truman may be the shortest in physical stature, but he is the tallest in historical stature among these giant figures.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Christian Schlect VINE VOICE on December 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The personal letters between any past U.S. president and his former secretary of state are worthy of study. The many ones between President Truman and Dean Acheson are certainly worth a book.

Having said this, many of these collected letters are simple ones related to schedules, trips, speaking engagements, family matters, and the sort. Others exhibit sharp partisan zeal reminding the reader that deep national political divisions are not new to our country. The correspondence is written by both authors in plain, clear prose; President Truman's is more folksy, while Secretary Acheson's is more polished and lively.

I hasten to add that a number of the letters in this book are quite interesting for what they reveal about the domestic and international politics and political personalities of the 1950s and 60s.

(The headnotes to the letters by the son of Dean Acheson are concise and helpful. And the design of the dust jacket by Darren Haggar is superior.)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Keith Wheelock on August 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
David McCullough, in his forward to AFFECTION & TRUST: THE PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE OF HARRY S. TRUMAN AND DEAN ACHESON 1953-1971, wrote "There has been nothing like it [Truman-Acheson letters] in our history, except the post-presidential exchange known as the Retirement Series, between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson." I heartily agree.

At first glance, Truman and Acheson might seem the 'odd couple.' Truman, the only 20th century U. S. president who never attended college, had spent much of his life in Missouri with scant distinction. By contrast, Acheson was an erudite, Saville-Row-draped Yale and Harvard Law School graduate who had clerked for Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, had served in the Roosevelt administration, and was a distinguished lawyer before re-entering government and becoming Under Secretary of State and then Secretary of State in the Truman administration.

In fact, Truman was extremely well read and his letters reflected a firm grasp of history. When Truman returned to Washington after the Republicans had captured the House and the Senate in the 1946 election, Acheson was the only senior administration official who awaited Truman at Union Station. During the Cold War years, Truman and Acheson became bonded at the hip--they were both Cold War warriors who took decisive action and defended one another against Republican and media brick bats.

This correspondence was initiated by President Truman, following a January 20th farewell luncheon hosted by Acheson. Truman signed letters Harry Truman, Harry S. Truman, or, occasionally,Harry. A deferential Acheson referred to Truman as Mr. President, Boss, or, rarely, Mr. Truman. Despite such formality, this exchange was clearly between two dear friends who greatly respected one another.
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