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Harry S. Truman: The American Presidents Series: The 33rd President, 1945-1953 Hardcover – September 2, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
The book begins by noting that, traditionally, the 20th century presidents deemed to be great or near great include: Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Harry Truman. The "Preludes" section notes that (Page 1): "On the face of things, Truman's high standing is surprising. . . . Truman was notable for his ordinariness."
The book begins with his family background, his early years, his service in World War I, his early (failed) effort at a haberdashery business, and his decision to move into public life. The book well describes his moral dilemmas at one point: the corrupt Pendergast organization was willing to sponsor him for elective office. What would he do? Eschew the support of the machine? Or use its support and still try to stay clean? He did the latter and his political career began. By the way, to give a sense of The American Presidents' series, we come to see how and why FDR selected Truman as his Vice-Presidential partner by page 15!
Truman's time in the White House. . . . We see him reflecting on whether or not to use the atomic weaponry against Japan.Read more ›
Biographer Dallek, who has exhibited keen insights into the personalities and politics of FDR, Nixon, JFK, and LBJ, and Reagan, brings similar acumen to assessing Truman-- the man, the politician, and the president. As a teenager, I stayed up late watching the 1948 election in which Truman confounded the professional pollsters. I am familiar with many of the two dozen books upon which Dallek depends for many of his core facts and anecdotes, including McCullough's TRUMAN, Hamby's MAN OF THE PEOPLE: A LIFE OF HARRY S. TRUMAN, George H. Gallup's THE GALLUP POLL, 1935-1971, and Merle Miller's PLAIN SPEAKING: AN ORAL BIOGRAPHY OF HARRY S. TRUMAN.
I have taught Truman in a college course for nearly twenty years. I am astonished by how accurately Dallek, in 153 pages, synthesizes many complex events. I feel humbled at how often Dallek provides a succinct factual and political insight that had escaped me in my 60+ years of learning about Truman. Most important, Dallek provides a comprehensive, credible assessment of a man and president who, too frequently, has been misunderstood and, years ago, trivialized.Read more ›
The prose is crisp and engages the reader. The story is presented with insight and balance that informs as well as entertains. This is a fascinating era in U.S. history; world leadership, the nuclear age, the emerging cold war and the national security state, the beginnings of the civil rights struggle, Joseph McCarthy and the most surprising election of the twentieth century. Truman's conflicts are also presented; the fight Southerners over civil rights, with organized labor over the right to strike, and with General Douglas MacArthur over the conduct of the Korean War. The author also shows how a President's legacy take time to unfold. Truman had a very mixed record during his time in office but his reputation has risen sharply in retrospect.
Many of the books in this series devote substantial space the the pre-presidential life and career of their subjects. Dallek covers Truman's formative years in a dense, quick single chapter. Raised in rural Missouri, Truman entered politics through the notorious Pendergast machine and ultimately was elected and relected to the Senate before Roosevelt chose him for the vice-presidency. The brisk treatment of Truman's early life allows Dallek to focus the reader's attention where it belongs: on Truman's eventful and difficult presidency.
Besides using the extensive public record, Dallek draws upon Truman's letters, diary entries, off-the record comments, drafts and other documents of a private character to round out a portrayal of a complex individual and era.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent read. The author returns to the type of well-written book that I have become accustomed to in this series on Presidential history.Published 26 days ago by Stinson E. Humphrey
An ordinary man who became president in a dangerous time. History has shown his policies and actions prevented a dangerous 3rd world war. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Edwin Whiteford
Fine as an introduction to Truman. He was definitely his own person, and while he could be a shrewd politician, he wasn't afraid to do what he thought was right at the time.Published 17 months ago by middle aged dude
I've always wanted to learn mor of Truman, being a Missourian myself. I'm proud of the way he lead his life and the country. We should be so lucky today. Read morePublished 21 months ago by JACK LEE SMYTHE
Let me say that I am absolutely, NOT commenting on this book.
Harry Truman was the absolute worst president this country as ever had to endure. Read more
Enjoyed this read, as it certainly is not an apology for Truman's presidency. I would have appreciated information regarding Truman's history, his boyhood, his employment prior to... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Amazon Customer
I read all the Biographies of the Presidents by way of the Presidential series. If you are going to do it, read John Hancock first because he was the first Continental Congress... Read morePublished on January 31, 2014 by Frank Anderson