The Soldier from Independence: A Military Biography of Harry Truman Hardcover – September 10, 2009
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From the Inside Flap
“You have a fine looking bunch of men, Captain. And I hope you will take them home as clean morally and physically as they were when they came over so that the people at home can be as proud of them as I am.”
—General John J. Pershing to Captain Harry S. Truman
Truman took great pride in hearing these words when American Expeditionary Force commander General Pershing, accompanied by the young Prince of Wales, performed his farewell inspection in January 1919. Unfortunately, the event turned embarrassing when a politically motivated private of Irish descent, with no love lost for England, blurted out, “Captain, ask that little son-of-a-bitch when he’s going to free Ireland.”
As always, Truman had done his best, but grew increasingly concerned with getting all of his men home alive. Even with the combat over, sickness and death were becoming a regular occurrence throughout the American army in France. Meanwhile, as his adventure in the Great War wound down, Truman’s thoughts turned homeward, to resolving the long-delayed marriage to his beloved Bess.
From the book:
“The sounds of battle had sunk back into one of their periodic lulls, so if the wind was right, the nearly horizontal, high-velocity stream of shells passing exactly a half mile to the south might have even reached the ears of the men at the observation post. They certainly would have heard the close-in detonations across the Aire seconds after the earth and smoke shot skyward, and Truman later boasted, “I’m the only battery commander in the 129th who ever saw what he fired at and I think that is some distinction.”1 So accurate was Truman’s and Kelley’s computations, and the work of the 2nd and 3rd Gun Sections, that Dizzy D only fired 49 rounds at the target, with perhaps the last half-dozen or so hanging in the air, when Truman ordered a cease fire. Scratch one Hun battery.”
The Soldier from Independence recounts the World War I military adventure that would mark a turning point in the life of a humble man who would go on to become commander-in-chief as the thirty-third president of the United States.
D. M. Giangreco served as an editor at Military Review, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, for twenty years and has lectured widely on national security matters. An award-winning author of nine books on military and sociopolitical subjects, he has also written extensively for various national and international publications and news agencies. Giangreco’s work has been translated into French, German, Spanish, Russian (pirated), Japanese, and Chinese. His most recent books are Dear Harry on the correspondence of “everyday Americans” with the Truman White House (2000), Artillery in Korea: Massing Fires and Reinventing the Wheel (2003), Eyewitness D-Day (2004), and Eyewitness Vietnam (2006).
From the Back Cover
As commander-in-chief, President Harry S. Truman authorized dropping The Bomb. Despite making what is arguably the most momentous decision in the history of the world, critics have dismissed the “the Kansas City haberdasher” as having no significant military credentials, discounting his service in World War I as a field artillery battery commander in combat. Yet nothing could be farther from the truth, as The Soldier from Independence: A Military Biography of Harry Truman makes clear.
Author D. M. Giangreco’s biography of Truman adds a whole new dimension to the already fascinating character of the thirty-third president of the United States. Giangreco shows how, as a commander in combat, Truman was already making the hard decisions that he knew to be right, regardless of personal consequences. He describes how Truman saved a neighboring infantry regiment from a surprise German attack, only to be rebuked by his regimental commander. Truman would have been court-martialed, which certainly would have derailed any future career in politics had it not been for General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing’s words of approval for the result.
The Soldier from Independence supplies a heretofore missing—and critical—chapter in the story of one of the nation’s most important presidents.
Foreword by Alonzo L. Hamby, author of Man of the People: A Life of Harry S. Truman
- Publisher : Zenith Press; First edition (September 10, 2009)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0760332096
- ISBN-13 : 978-0760332092
- Item Weight : 1.2 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,059,600 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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D.M. Giangreco has done a valuable service here in undermining one of the more persistent myths--that Harry Truman had a minimal understanding of strategy or war. This is a biography of the military side of Truman's life (another volume is forthcoming), and it is high time, too.
In some sense Harry Truman's World War I wartime service was overshadowed by his later actions as a wartime president at both the end of World War II and during the Korean War. The big dust up over the MacArthur relief, in fact has obscured Truman's bona fides gained in the hardest school in combat during the Great War (1918). It also obscures his abilities as an eventual colonel in the reserves and as a military expert in Congress. Others, notably Michael Pearlman, have done good service (in _Truman and MacArthur_) in describing the dynamics of Truman's relationship with his proconsul in Asia, but here Giangreco gives us the untold story of a young officer performing very well, in internalizing the insights offered by combat in a conflict that, for many, redefined war. Too, Giangreco's skilful use of neglected resources, such as official unit diaries, after action reports, and the other seemingly disesteemed paperwork that all wars produce, has yielded a far more complex and skilful citizen soldier than other biographers have uncovered. The book also gives a fair an objective reassessment of Truman's National Guard division's role in the Meuse Argonne. Giangreco's range is impressive, from Truman to World War II, to Vietnam, his careful and detailed scholarship is to be savored and enjoyed.
John T. Kuehn, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Military History, US Army Command and General Staff College.
When Harry Truman joined what would become the Missouri National Guard he started out as a private. He was a bank teller at the time and the Kansas City area was looking for members for an artillery battery being formed in the area... and a man who worked with figures seemed to be just the right person to calculate fire in what was becoming the more and more complex science of artillery. Truman took to Soldiering, became proficient at it and rose through the ranks despite difficulties at home and in his personal finances. When the United States entered the Great War in 1917 his unit was activated and he was made an officer, with more training and responsibilities. It says quite a bit when you look at the unit he was assigned to just prior to getting orders to join the American Expeditionary Force. While many officers were being transferred to less critical duties stateside or were allowed to depart the service due to deficiencies, Truman was actually recommended for promotion and rapidly given more and more responsibilities. Once in France he was given command of his own artillery battery.
Truman saw significant action in France before the end of the war. He was not an officer with heavy artillery, which operated further back from the trenches and rarely saw aerial or counterbattery fire. He was given command of a unit equipped with French 75s, and the shorter range of these guns meant being up close where the action is. It is saying a lot that he managed not to lose any of his gunners prior to the Armistice. Truman's experiences no doubt shaped his attitudes towards the military when he became President in 1945. This alone makes Soldier From Independence an important book for understanding the postwar changes in the U.S. military and foreign policy following WWII.
Well-written and researched. The author drew on many excellent resources which have been largely untapped prior to this book. Also includes some great photos.