Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip Paperback – April 1, 2011
See the Best Books of 2017
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
From Publishers Weekly
Public radio reporter Algeo (Last Team Standing) brings the 1950s into focus with a fascinating reconstruction of Harry and Bess Truman's postpresidential 2,500-mile road trip. I like to take trips—any kind of trip, Truman wrote. They are about the only recreation I have besides reading. Between 2006 and 2008, Algeo retraced their journey with stopovers at some of the same diners and hotels the couple visited. When Truman left the White House in 1953, he returned to Independence, Mo., rejecting lucrative offers he felt would commercialize the presidency. His only income was a small army pension. Acquiring a 1953 Chrysler, the Trumans set out with no fanfare and a curious notion of traveling incognito. However, reporters and newsreel cameras soon turned their vehicular vacation into an ongoing media event. The book benefits from extensive research through oral history interviews and papers at the Harry S. Truman Library, and Algeo's own interviews with eyewitnesses. With deliberate detours, this book is a portal into the past with layers of details providing unusual authenticity and a portrait of the president as an ordinary man. 20 b&w photos, 1 map. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"An engaging account . . . Well-researched." Wall Street Journal
Now, this is what’s called a road trip.” --In Transit, New York Times travel blog
"Enlivened by Algeo"s endeavors to see the places where Truman stopped, this is an engaging historical sidebar." Booklist Online
Algeo chronicles this unlikely excursion in great and wonderful detail. . . . [An] enchanting glimpse into a much simpler age.” --Library Journal
An absolutely wonderful book.” Virginian-Pilot
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
It's Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip by Matthew Algeo.
I don't know why the title of this book isn't Harry and Bess Truman's Excellent Adventure, since Bess was with Harry for all 2,500 miles of their journey, which began June 19, 1953. It was a different way of life: Harry and Bess did not have Secret Service protection, and they weren't hounded by the media, although reporters soon found them out and wrote articles on the whereabouts of the former President and First Lady.
Matthew Algeo retraced the Truman's trip from their home in Independence, Missouri, to the East Coast, in bits and pieces between autumn, 2006, and summer, 2008. As often as he could, he stayed where the Trumans stayed, and he spoke with the people they encountered––or their children.
The Trumans had time for a trip because Harry had retired, but their financial situation left something to be desired. Harry was pretty much broke when he left the presidency. They had bought Bess's brothers' shares in their family home. It was the only house they ever owned, and the only place where they could afford to live.
Truman didn't qualify for Social Security; he wasn't in the Senate long enough to receive a congressional pension; presidents didn't yet receive a pension; and Harry wouldn't dream of taking advantage of his former position by giving speeches or endorsing something in exchange for money (are you listening, Bill Clinton?). Algeo writes that Truman's "only income would be a pension for his service as an officer in France during World War I. That pension amounted to $111.96 a month, after taxes." Fortunately, Harry was able to make some money by writing his memoirs.
This windfall allowed the Truman to take a couple of vacations, one to Hawaii, and the other, this road trip, during which President Truman wanted to be treated as plain old Harry Truman. He was pleased, though, that so many people were excited to see him, and they wished him well. He had not been a popular president:
Everywhere he went he was met with welcoming cries: "Hi, Harry!" "Try again in three years!" "We miss you, Harry!" It was hard to believe that barely a year earlier he had been the least popular president in American history. Even Truman himself had a hard time believing it.
Bess and Harry spent some nights in hotels, ate in diners, and stayed some nights with friends who served them a meal. They also visited their daughter Margaret, who lived in New York City. They tried to keep the trip as casual as possible, and this book reflects that relaxed feeling. However, it wasn't a terribly exciting trip. Reading about stops at gas stations and dinner parties with old pals gets a bit old after a while.
I enjoy the interesting information about the Trumans, but I don't consider Algeo a brilliant writer. His work is adequate for this story. If you want a book with unusual information about Harry and Bess Truman, a book you can skim through if you feel like it, then this book is a good choice.
Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Approval.
Matthew Algeo weaves these strands into the otherwise-simple facts of Truman's trip with affection, accuracy, and exquisite attention to detail. Anyone who idealizes the post-war 1940s as much as I do will find this book a delightful journey down a forgotten road of that era. Mr. Algeo has a gift for bringing history to life, and we will be fortunate indeed if he continues to produce historical fare of such high caliber.