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The Upset That Wasn't: Harry S. Truman and the Crucial Election of 1948 (American Ways) Hardcover – November 1, 1998


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Product Details

  • Series: American Ways
  • Hardcover: 255 pages
  • Publisher: Ivan R. Dee (November 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566632064
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566632065
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,089,006 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

On the 50th anniversary of Harry Truman's famous presidential "upset," Gullan, a contributor to Presidential Studies Quarterly, has written a nuts-and-bolts political history of the 1948 presidential election. Truman, it seems, always played the turtle to his opponent's hare. When his haberdashery business failed he was recruited by T.J. ("Boss") Pendergast to run for District Judge, and he won. In 1934, he was elected to the Senate; in 1944, he became FDR's vice president; and five months later he was president. At the end of WWII, the country converted from a war- to a consumer-oriented economy; GIs faced labor unrest, angry farmers and unemployment when they came home. The country turned Congress over to the Republicans in 1946 and Truman's approval ratings plummeted?and the 1948 election was right around the corner. Gullan's emphasis is on personality: GOP nominees Thomas E. Dewey ("the little man on the wedding cake," according to Alice Roosevelt Longworth) and Earl Warren ("that dumb Swede," said Dewey); third-party candidates Strom Thurmond of the "Dixiecrats" and Henry Wallace of Progressive Labor. Gullan makes several salient points. Dewey, in reality, may have been more liberal than Truman; for all the excitement of the close election, 1948 had the lowest voter turnout in 20 years; and it may have been the emerging power of the black vote, according to Theodore White, that made Truman president. This is a very readable history focusing on the 30th president, one of the great gut politicians of the century.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Fresh appraisal of an election that has long been considered the greatest political upset in American history. Gullan, an independent scholar whose work has appeared in the Presidential Studies Quarterly, argues that the election would have been an upset if Dewey had won. He finds the New Deal program had become so institutionalized that the old Rooseveltian coalition simply could not dissolve completely. The partially conservative Truman, leaning somewhat away from the left toward center, more than matched Dewey, also moving toward the center (but from the conservative right of a Republican-controlled Congress that had attempted and failed to roll back the popular New Deal program). Gullan attributes the Democratic victory, contradicting polls predicting a Republican win, to the greater effectiveness of Trumans populist cross-country whistle stop campaign conducted from the rear platform of a train. Then too, the folksy vice presidential candidate Alben Barkley corralled votes across the South, the Farm Belt, and the border states, unlike the efforts of the dull, uncoordinated Dewey-Warren ticket. The separatist, more extreme parties of Henry Wallace (friendly to world communism) and Strom Thurmond (white-supremacy Dixiecrats) held little appeal to voters. Adding weight to Truman's candidacy was the highly respected secretary of state, General George Marshall. Prosperity at home and peril abroad also favored incumbents, observes Gullan. He believes that the 1948 election was distinctive in serving as a bridge between party-loyalty-oriented elections and a more independent voter movement, leading later to increased numbers of landslide electoral victories for both Republican and Democratic presidents. Truman, the ``square shooter, enjoyed additionally the special fate of running against the depressing ghost of Herbert Hoover that lingered in American memory. A lucid, enlightening historical survey, as well as a nostalgic look at a bygone era. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Candace Scott on August 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I grew up listening to my parents talk about Harry Truman and the 1948 election. No one thought Truman had a chance and everyone went to bed believing Tom Dewey would be the next President. But everyone was wrong, from the reporters who covered the campaign, to H.V. Kaltenborn, the famous radio announcer of that era, to the new political pollsters. All were left with egg on their faces when Truman won over 300 electoral votes and swept to victory.
This book demonstrate the importance of the farm vote switching mightily to Truman as the campaign wore on, and how Dewey was impossibly arrogant and stopped active campaigning on mid-October, thinking he had the election sewn up! Most of all, this is a tribute to the plucky Harry Trumam, who never conceded, never doubted he would win, and throughout his famous whistle-stop tour, gave 'em hell. A stirring account of a great campaign.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Katharine Bolton on December 25, 1998
Format: Hardcover
A fascinating and concise view into a politcal upset that has long been forgotten. Gullan is able to capture the reader's attention, and hold onto it. A must-read for anyone who has any interest in Harry Truman. I enjoyed this book immensly! Highly recommend!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 25, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Books about American Political History are usually fairly dense. Not this book! Gullan managed to create a work that appeals to casual readers, junkies and professors alike. It has scholarly value, yet is written in an engaging and readable manner. A must read!
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The Upset That Wasn't: Harry S. Truman and the Crucial Election of 1948 (American Ways)
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