- Hardcover: 448 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (October 24, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0544617347
- ISBN-13: 978-0544617346
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 106 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Accidental President: Harry S. Truman and the Four Months That Changed the World 1st Edition
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From the Publisher
Abbie Rowe, National Park Service / Harry S. Truman Library & Museum
Truman recites the presidential oath of office, at 7:09 pm on April 12, 1945. To his left: his wife Bess and only child, Margaret. He described this moment in these four words: 'The lightning has struck!' Said one reporter at the time: 'No man ever came to the Presidency of the United States under more difficult circumstances than does Harry S. Truman.'
United States Army Signal Corps / Harry S. Truman Library & Museum
Truman’s first meeting with Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin (July 17, 1945), one day after the Trinity atomic bomb test. From left: Vyacheslav Molotov (Stalin’s #2), Truman’s Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, Truman’s Russian translator Chip Bohlen, the President, Truman’s chief of staff Admiral Leahy, and Stalin, “the Man of Steel.' The historic Potsdam Conference would begin later that night.
Harry S. Truman Library & Museum
On August 2, four days before the Hiroshima bombing, Truman and Jimmy Byrnes meet with the Britain’s King George VI. At lunch, Truman’s chief of staff Admiral Leahy says of the bomb, 'I do not think it will be as effective as expected.' The King says, 'Admiral, would you like to lay a little bet on that?'
Joe Kosstatscher, United States Navy / Harry S. Truman Library & Museum
The Nagasaki bomb (August 9, 1945)—the second atomic strike.
Abbie Rowe, National Park Service / Harry S. Truman Library & Museum
The dramatic scene inside the Oval Office as Truman announces the unconditional surrender of Japan, on August 14, 1945—four months and two days after the death of FDR.
Harry S. Truman Library & Museum
June 27, 1945: The biggest crowds in Jackson County history turn out for Truman’s homecoming, as president for the first time. Here he exits his airplane, the Sacred Cow, with his daughter Margaret.
"The story of Truman’s accession to the presidency is worthy of a Hollywood melodrama, and A.J. Baime’s zippy, well-judged and hugely readable book more than does it justice . . . although there are plenty of good biographies of Truman, few are as entertaining as Baime’s."
—Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times
"A.J. Baime is a master. His reporting and storytelling are woven to hypnotic effect. Opening the first page of The Accidental President is like pulling up a chair to Truman’s White House desk where we sit engrossed as world events unfold in the most intimate manner, titanic in scale. Baime brings us as close as we are likely to get to this completely surprising, quirky, wily, and transformational president. This is history and humanity in lush, vivid color."
—Doug Stanton, author of The Odyssey of Echo Company and Horse Soldiers
“A.J. Baime is a master storyteller, and The Accidental President contains everything a reader could ever want from a work of history: characters that jump off the page, tension that makes your pulse pound, and smooth, smart writing that makes you think. Amazing!”
—Jonathan Eig, author of Ali: A Life and Luckiest Man
"Intimate and absorbing, A.J. Baime's biography uses new sources to paint Harry Truman as a complex and thoroughly American figure. A sharply-drawn portrait of an era as well as a man."
–Stephan Talty,author of The Black Hand and Agent Garbo
“No president in history – particularly one who came in without having been briefed by his predecessor – has faced such monumental decisions. A.J. Baime has put a spotlight on those four months, recounting them faithfully and with heart, so that you come away with not only a sense of history, but a sense of the man, Harry Truman, as well. As Grandpa himself said a few years later, ‘It’s hell to be President of the Greatest Most Powerful Nation on Earth.’”
—Clifton Truman Daniel, Truman’s grandson and author of Growing Up with My Grandfather: Memories of Harry Truman
“An entertaining new history of Truman’s first months in office...filled with events that are strikingly proportionate to what the Trump administration has weathered since January.”
—John Batchelor, The Daily Beast
“A fast-paced, well-detailed chronology of Truman's transformation from an official with little administrative responsibility into a politically astute and ultimately beloved leader.... A warmly human portrait of an unlikely president.”
"By relying mostly on primary sources, Baime allows for a better perspective of Truman, in which his political decisions are equally as significant as the correspondence with his beloved wife, daughter, and mother. He also adeptly manages to include nuanced U.S.-Russia relations and East Asian diplomacy."
—Library Journal (starred review)
"An attractive tale for fans of both presidential and WWII history. . . Baime opens a clear . . . window on a pivotal moment in history."
"Baime is a master story-teller who appears to have invented a time machine. His carefully crafted narrative transports the reader back in time... Each sentence is carefully constructed and colorfully packed with details that makes Harry Truman and this period in history come alive. The Accidental President reads more like a captivating novel than non-fiction. The book is good history in that it simplifies events without being simple."
About the Author
A.J. Baime is the New York Times best-selling author of The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, and an Epic Quest to Arm an America at War and Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans. Both books are in development for major motion pictures. His latest book, The Accidental President: Harry S. Truman and the Four Months That Changed the World, was published in 2017. Baime is a longtime regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal, and his articles have also appeared in the New York Times, Popular Science, and Men’s Journal. He holds an M.A. in literature from NYU and currently lives in Granite Bay, California. Visit A.J. at Facebook.com/ajbaime and Trumanbook.com.
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I suspect that we will never see the likes of a Harry Truman in American presidential politics. While I did read McCollough's complete biography years ago, it was refreshing to revisit one of my favorite presidents. I was born while he was in office.
All the more unusual was that Truman was never a success. He had a farm that failed, as well as a business that went under and never had the money to buy a house. After the White House, they lived in his mother-in -laws house in Independence. Add to this that his wife's mother did not like him and thought he would never amount to much.
He worked hard and was humble, but he was tough on the Russians and they could not believe that FDR was gone and this Missouri rooster was crowing loudly against their ambitions in Europe. He was the kind of man you did not want to trifle with and I respect that about him.
He made the decision to use atomic weapons on the Japanese in order to quickly conclude the war and likely save a quarter of a million of young soldiers that would have to invade Japan and fight an ugly battle.
He took all these responsibilities on himself, working a grueling schedule and trying to read everything he could to prepare himself for the heavy work of international diplomacy. He pulled it off and we will never see the likes of this again.
It struck that the author made the statement toward the end of the book that America peaked with the surrender of the Japanese and will never see those lofty heights again. I have to agree with him. America has seen her best days. All the rest is polite conversation.
I highly recommend this book.
Taking what Baime claims is four of perhaps the four most consequential months of any presidency, a point of which is probably correct, this book starts off with FDR's surprising death in Warm Springs, Georgia as World War II reaches its penultimate moments with the collapse of Germany and the beginning of the end of the Empire of Japan. Though the book claims only 4 months, you still get a portrait of Truman the man, his beginnings and his rise to the presidency.
A humble man put in extraordinary circumstances, Truman somehow navigated the tough course. While not college educated, Truman was still shown to be a man of history and of music. Though I have read the mammoth McCullough biography, this book is just as outstanding. These four months were pretty momentous, and yet Truman had to navigate the end of the war, the Chinese civil war, and the domestic economy as well (though not the subject of this book). Amazing sense of the man and his predilections.
This book is so effortless to read and a pleasure. Highly recommended,
This book is one, if you please, that is an absolute must read. The story of HST and the burdens he had to bear after the death of FDR (and having served only 82 days as VP) are profound.
As the book indicates, his first four months after taking the oath of office were four months that changed the world. No other president in history faced the critical challenges that Truman faced (much less the constant comparisons to FDR). Fighting many things such as "who the hell is Harry Truman?" was just one of the hurdles. Crisis after crisis and Harry got it done.
Applause to the author, A.J. Baime for telling this gripping narrative of HST when the world was still in flames.
What I especially liked about the book is that it held my interest because I found it to be very readable for someone with a general interest in history. You need not be a scholar by any means to enjoy this book.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the history of World War II.