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American Experience: Truman

23 customer reviews

Additional DVD options Edition Discs
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(Feb 14, 2006)
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Editorial Reviews

Ponder the dilemmas faced by the plain-speaking politician from Missouri. Thrust suddenly into the presidency, Harry Truman faced down some of the greatest crises of our time. Track the unlikely rise of an American original who ended the Second World War, used the atomic bomb on Japan and confronted the expanding Soviet threat.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: February 14, 2006
  • Run Time: 260 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BYRCG0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,624 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 53 people found the following review helpful By W. A. H. on May 22, 2007
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First of all, let me begin by saying, I would suggest that you get this and American Experience: FDR together and watch them in order with FDR first. Two great presidents, two great documentaries. By the time you finish them, you feel as though you know both men as well as you know your own family.

I've always liked Truman, he called it like he saw it, and he didn't take any guff from anyone. Watching both videos, it made me shake my head, and fear the future of our nation. We will never see men like Truman and FDR again.

The documentary covered Truman from birth to the end of his presidency, and brought up a fact about the Marshall Plan that I never knew. It was packed with his personal life and his public life, and put a human face on a simple farmboy, his struggles in life and his ability to overcome.

It showed what made Truman, TRUMAN.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Great Movie Addict on February 16, 2008
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To echo a previous reviewer, there has been and will forever be only one President Harry S. Truman. Hisorians rate him among the 10 greatest Presidents in our history, a fact that makes it seem inconceivable that he left office branded as a Commie (thanks to the McCarthy maniacs) and unpopular because of the lingering Korean War. Fortunately, that unpopularity didn't last. What makes this PBS biography indispensible, aside from the fascinating subject, is its presentation. Just as there have been few leaders of Truman's quality (especially recently), so there have been few commentators and writers like David McCullough. The narrative itself has to be one of the finest examples of broadcast journalism, a profession dismally absent from today's media. As for Truman, here's a guy who stood so far above the ideology and partisanship of his day and ours that he puts our own era to shame. For those who don't know Truman, this presentation will introduce you to a humble man who had it tough his whole life but kept right on going, living and acting on basic moral principles that have all but disappeared. I recall a hit record during the Watergate era from the rock group Chicago titled simply "Harry Truman". As you meet Harry through this video you'll be saying to yourself some of the words from that song: "America needs you, Harry Truman. Harry, could you please come home?"
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By karenkat on May 28, 2008
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What a knockout documentary, with Robards' fine narrative style not intruding on the dandy old film and newsreels and with Mc Cullough doing his usual fine commentary job. At last, we see Truman and his world from the start to the near-finish, and it is indeed a documentary, which should most certainly be preceded by the just as fine FDR one, that school children should study and write essays about. They need to learn FDR's and Truman's times as well as their Presidencies, and these two together show us both. They had some monumentally tough situations to deal with as Presidents, and while their performances weren't flawless, they were remarkably appropriate to their times.

This was a critical time in 20th century American history from the Depression thru the first years of the Cold War, and I can't imagine any other two Presidents doing anything close to the good jobs they did.

What really grabs one who is already familiar with the history, tho, about this Truman documentary, is the man. If there's one sentence in this 4.5 hours of film that stands out in my mind, it's his refusal to drop any more but the first two atomic bombs on Japan - "I don't want to kill any more kids."

That simple probably unrehearsed sentence says it all about him. Duty-bound in his own view to order those first two bombings to save what could have been hundreds of thousands of Japanese and American lives in a continuation of the traditional war and defending his decision to his death, he still knew what he had done, and he cared. And I believe that he was privately bothered about those kids in particular until he died.

And the presentation of that segment of the documentary, which pulled few punches with its imagery, was beautifully "neutral" in tone and style. It simply told the story of what he believed was needed and of what that led to.

Bravo, PBS. :)
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By T. Adkins on June 24, 2008
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Several years ago, I happened upon this documentary on my local PBS station while channel surfing. It was presented as part of the wonderful American Experience series. I was mesmerized and had to watch it to the end. Soon after, I read David McCullough's book, "Truman." I knew I had to buy the DVD so I could combine the two presentations. This DVD and McCullough's book work very well together.

Jason Robards does a wonderful job in narration. The commentators, especially McCullough, are concise and thoughtful. I discovered a wonderful insight into this man and his presidency. I continue to be amazed as to how a president can find himself so very unpopular at the time he left office only now to find himself routinely rated as one of the ten best presidents this country has seen.

For those of us who call ourselves American history buffs, this DVD is a must have.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Edwin C. Pauzer VINE VOICE on August 14, 2011
A number of things become evident in seeing the American Experience: Truman. Everything in life came late to him. He failed at everything in life except the presidency and finding the woman he loved. He ascended to the presidency without ever wanting it. He was never a wealthy man, and he spoke plainly--to everyone. He didn't even have public relations people to tell him what to say, how to act, or what to wear, and it showed. We would never see a president like him ever again.

The man who would take us through some of the most tumultuous times in our history came from a modest background. In school he met the love of his life, Bess and would spend his early years trying to earn a comfortable living to win her hand. He invested in drilling for oil but went broke just a couple of hundred feet before he would have struck it rich. War intervened and blind as a bat he entered the army by memorizing the eye chart. His men elected him captain. After the war, he went into the haberdashery business only to fail in four years. It took him 15 years to pay off his debts. The head of the Missouri political machine was Tom Pendergast who suggested that Harry run for U.S. Senator after he got him elected as a judge. With Pendergast's ability to deliver the vote, Truman was elected. He joined the FDR ticket in 1944, becoming vice president. He would hold that job for only 83 days.
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