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Eleanor and Harry: The Correspondence of Eleanor Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman (Lisa Drew Books) Hardcover – August 27, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Steve Neal has collected, in Eleanor and Harry, the correspondence between Eleanor Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. The 254 letters were written between April 16, 1945 (four days after FDR's death), and mid-December, 1960 (23 months before Eleanor Roosevelt's death). While many of the letters are brief and quotidian, a good number of them concern large issues, both global and national, among them the restoration of post-war Europe; the Korean War; the role and effectiveness of the nascent United Nations (Roosevelt served the Truman administration as a member of the U.S. delegation to the General Assembly); the fraught, mercurial jostling of the cold war; and Democratic Party appointments. Though the two hardly saw eye-to-eye on all issues, their letters were unfailingly respectful. Neal provides a context for many of these letters, which he arranges chronologically. As well, he has written a brief introduction and epilogue, and a helpful, if basic, bibliography. --H. O'Billovich

From Publishers Weekly

Eleanor Roosevelt and Harry Truman enjoyed a relationship unique in American history. Virtually strangers before the death of FDR, afterward the two became close friends and began exchanging letters on everything from their health and the weather to Democratic politics and global communism. Now, in this collection of over 250 of their letters ably edited and introduced by Chicago Sun-Times political columnist Neal (Harry and Ike), the full extent of their friendship finally becomes apparent. Truman, Neal makes clear, admired Mrs. Roosevelt greatly, calling her the "First Lady of the World." She, in turn, thought he was a "good man" and wanted to help him however she could. But the two also disagreed on many issues, and Mrs. Roosevelt was never shy about expressing her opinion. In her letters, she rebuked Truman for the "loyalty boards" designed to root out communists (he later agreed with her) and shamed him into investigating discrimination against Japanese-Americans. For his part, Truman staunchly defended his support of noncommunist regimes in Greece and Turkey (the beginnings of the "Truman Doctrine") and delicately asserted that she was too naive about Stalinist Russia. Yet Truman also trusted Mrs. Roosevelt immensely, and told her things he could tell few others ("The difficulties with Churchill are very nearly as exasperating as they are with the Russians," he wrote after the frustrating negotiations to end the war). On her end, Mrs. Roosevelt never hesitated to offer kindness and support. "My congratulations on your courage... you have done the right thing," she wrote to Truman after he fired General MacArthur. These are letters without parallel. As Neal points out, just try to imagine Jacqueline Kennedy and LBJ writing these letters, or George H.W. Bush and Nancy Reagan. This collection is a valuable contribution to early Cold War scholarship, as well as a fascinating window into two titanic figures in American history.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: Lisa Drew Books
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1st edition (August 27, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743202430
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743202435
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,567,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dana Stabenow on November 8, 2006
Format: Paperback
He was a farm boy, the descendant of Missouri pioneers. She was a debutante of the New York aristocracy. On April 12th, 1945, her husband and his boss, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, died in office. Mrs. Roosevelt summoned Vice-president Truman to the White House and said, "Harry, the president is dead." "Is there anything I can do for you?" he asked, and Mrs. Roosevelt replied, "Is there anything we can do you? For you are the one in trouble now."

Thus begins a correspondence that will last until their deaths, here collected by editor Steve Neal to give the reader a top-of-the-heap, behind-the-headlines look at the end of World War II, the Marshall Plan, the creation of the state of Israel, public versus private schooling, Eleanor's opinion of the British (not high, wait till you see how she tells Harry to handle Churchill), Harry's opinion of American hate crimes against Japanese Americans (he's damn lucky this letter wasn't released to the public back then), and much more. Eleanor is at first a little patronizing, a little arrogant, and more than a little disingenuous in many protestations of "oh you don't have listen to little old me, but as long as you are..." Harry is at first a little defensive, a little impatient, and more than a little dismissive of Eleanor's opinions, particular of people she wants in office and he doesn't. By his second term, Harry has grown into his new job, Eleanor has grown into hers, and they both grow into what eventually reads like a friendship of sincere mutual respect and even affection.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Hamilton on January 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is a compilation of letters exchanged between Harry Truman and Eleanor Roosevelt during Truman's presidency. The book has an easy-to-read style largely because the author adds dialog to explain the situations, events, and results of what the letters mention. By using this dialog-letter combination, a great deal of history is presented in an entertaining manner.
I would highly recommend this book as a followup immediately after reading the biography Truman, by David McCullough. With a little bit of Truman history, not only will you find this book a great source of behind the scenes information, you'll also discover that the letters written by Eleanor Roosevelt are a joy to read. She was truly a gifted writer with the ability to put emotions and thoughts into the written word in a manner that could be described as artistic.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Steve Neal has compiled some 250 letters between Eleanor Roosevelt and Harry Truman when he took office after the death of Franklin Roosevelt. In this small but thoughtful book, Neal combines commentary pertinent to the times or to the letter itself. While they disagreed on many things, he repeatedly asked her to write to him with her thoughts on events of the day, which she did and with great candor. President Truman was the first to call Mrs. Roosevelt "First Lady of the World." I heartily recomment this book to those who wish to know these two great people a bit better.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Herbert Boomhower on June 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I read this book in no time. In the good old days of great letter writing, these two protagonists enjoyed a rich and historic friendship. Although sometimes on the opposite sides of issues, the friendship betwen former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and President Harry Truman was a rich and ultimately fascinating exercise in camaraderie and mutual aid.
From reading these fascinating letters, it is obvious that these two old friends actually enjoyed talking and exchanging ideas and opinions.
This book, as edited, weaves a moving and extremely interesting story, reading very much like a good biography.
I highly recommend this book, a good example of history making exciting reading.
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By Cover2cover on September 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a fun read, the interaction between these two powerhouses made for an interesting read. Eleanor was certainly a force of nature...enjoy
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