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American Experience: Truman (1997)

 NR |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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American Experience: Truman + American Experience: FDR + American Experience: TR: The Story of Theodore Roosevelt
Price for all three: $40.51

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Product Details

  • Format: 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: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BYRCG0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,155 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If we ever needed you, Harry . . . May 22, 2007
Verified Purchase
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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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What POTUS and broadcast journalism used to be February 16, 2008
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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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars at last,, the definitive Truman documentary !! May 28, 2008
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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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leadership Missing Today. . . February 18, 2008
As have been so many of our prior Presidents, Mr. Truman would be un-electable today. We live in an atmosphere of sound bites and spin on our national political arena, fueled by television and 24-hour 'fair and balanced' news. Mr. Truman had absolutely no television charisma. His flat Missouri accent, particularly coming after Mr. Roosevelt, would never stir souls. Other than his flamboyant leisure shirts, he had no star appeal. His shirts came from JC Penney, and he washed his own underwear. To his death, he had no illusions about his abilities. We have never had another man in the Presidency who so respected the office and its responsibilities. He had to learn the hard way that, once he had served as President, he would never be able to retire to relative anonymity. He was probably the most poorly-prepared man to assume the Presidency in a century, and he overcame that handicap through sheer work and the desire to learn the job. And isn't it amazing that he accomplished what he did with a White House staff a fraction the size of today's, and no chief of staff?

How different than the grinning, primped and prepped candidates we are facing on both sides of the aisle this election year!

I have studied Mr. Truman and his times since college in the 70's. The romantic notion that the man was simple has long since been disproved. Though he was not college educated, he had an intellect and curiosity that has been sadly lacking for the past several years in the White House.

This will prove an entertaining introduction to Mr. Truman for those who don't know much about him--as with other American Experience episodes, the documentary footage is invaluable.

I doubt these documentaries are shown in American schools, and more's the shame. This series brings history to life, with dignity.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars American Experience: Truman
David McCullough did an outstanding job narrating this informative documentary on one of the most important time periods of the 20th Century. Read more
Published 12 months ago by David Oh
1.0 out of 5 stars Harry Truman the traitor
This is not an inditement of the documentary but of the man. Harry Truman was the absolute worst president this country as ever had to endure. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Marty A. Silvert
4.0 out of 5 stars Brings Truman to life
Harry S. Truman is one of those president that is often mentioned, but often also forgotten quickly. Read more
Published on April 1, 2012 by Chief
5.0 out of 5 stars Only ONE Harry
If you have a curiosity about U.S. History and presidential facts, this video is a MUST see. Watch it twice and commit to memory the noteworthy characteristics of a very unique... Read more
Published on January 31, 2012 by Suzy Hill
5.0 out of 5 stars Give'em Hell, Harry!
A number of things become evident in seeing the American Experience: Truman. Everything in life came late to him. Read more
Published on August 14, 2011 by Edwin C. Pauzer
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic story of a great man
I just finished reading "Truman" by David McCullough - which is incredibly well-written - and wanted to see the "man" in action. Read more
Published on June 26, 2011 by J. Ruppenthal
4.0 out of 5 stars Gratitude for his service
Harry Truman was the most honest President in my lifetime. He took responsibility for all of his actions. Read more
Published on November 5, 2010 by Halrod
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent historical presentation
Harry S. Truman, I believe, was a great president, and the video depicts his life and role in history with objectivity. Read more
Published on June 3, 2009 by Sapphire
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Look at an Old Favorite
Before his death, Harry Truman collaborated on a book called "Plain Speaking." That was intended to record Harry's views and philosophies for posterity's sake. Read more
Published on June 25, 2008 by John P Bernat
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, Honest and Thoughtful
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. Read more
Published on June 24, 2008 by T. Adkins
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