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Truman and Pendergast Hardcover – June 25, 1999

3.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Harry S. Truman and Thomas J. Pendergast met in 1927, when Truman was a Missouri judge with political ambitions and Pendergast was the boss of a powerful political machine in Kansas City. Over the years, Boss Tom would help Truman achieve many of his political goals. But as Truman rose to national prominence, his association with the corrupt Pendergast machine threatened to end his political career. FDR even made moves to have Truman defeated in his bid for reelection to the U.S. Senate in 1940. Ferrell (history, emeritus, Indiana Univ.; The Dying President: Franklin D. Roosevelt 1944-1945, LJ 3/1/98) sorts through the complex relationship between these men and demonstrates how Truman had both to live down and rise above his association with Boss Pendergast. This fine work sheds light on a part of Truman's past full of conflict and contradictions. A valuable addition to the literature on Truman the man and the politician.AMichael A. Genovese, Loyola Marymount Univ., Los Angeles
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

A study of Truman's career from his 1922 start in politics through his surprising reelection to the US Senate in 1940, focusing on his relationship with the corrupt Pendergast political machine that ruled Kansas City, Mo. Presidential scholar Ferrell (History emeritus/Indiana Univ.; The Presidency of Calvin Coolidge, 1998, etc.) depicts Thomas J. Pendergast finding many electable assets in the feisty Truman after appointing him to a rural office not directly involved in the city machine. Honest, principled, hardworking, and optimistic, Truman was a WWI veteran who had soldiered with Pendergasts nephew; he was also a Mason, a Baptist, a farmer, a businessman, and a regular guy with many loyal friends. Popular with the electorate, plain Harry performed well in his political jobs while saving taxpayer funds. He was, however, taken by surprise when Boss Pendergast was sent to prison in 1939 for tax evasion. (See The Kansas City Investigation, p. 775.) After his 1935 election to the US Senate, Truman had to overcome claims by his opponents that he was ``the senator from Pendergast.'' One of Ferrell's anecdotes shows the new senator (``the country boy'') being importuned by President Roosevelt (the sophisticated aristocrat) to change his vote in favor of FDR's compliant choice for Senate majority leader, Alben W. Barkley; Truman refused and voted for opposing candidate Pat Harrison. The Comeback Kid'' of his time, Truman overcame his underdog status in a tough campaign by going to the people and traveling extensively to win reelection to the Senate in 1940tactics he would employ with similar success in the presidential race of 1948. Enhanced by fresh research, this is a valuable behind-the-scenes account of the rise of a plainspoken, no-nonsense, ordinary man to extraordinary levels of power and accomplishment. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: University of Missouri; First Edition edition (June 25, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826212255
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826212252
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,750,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Robert H. Ferrell's "Truman and Pendergast" is a fine addition to the ever increasing pantheon of written history of our 33rd (32nd) president. Ferrell focuses on a period which, until now, has not been the main focus of any Truman biography. The author paints a vivid picture of the necessary evils one faces when choosing a life in public service while maintaining one's own countenance. Ferrell centralizes his work on several main points, beginning with the initial years of Truman's political career when it was necessary for the backing of Pendergast (especially in the political machine controlled era of the earlier part of the century) and culminating with Truman's Senate re-election campaign of 1940. These main points bookend a gradual separation of Truman and Pendergast, as Truman ascends in stature and Pendergast descends into a downward spiral culminating in his incarceration in a federal penitentiary. Throughout the course of the book Ferrell maintains an anecdotal style of storytelling, which allows the reader to gain deeper insight into a very different period of political history then we find in today's day and age. "Truman and Pendergast" is a must-have for any student of Truman, as well as an excellent addition to the history of politics of the early 1900s.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a good read for those interested in one of our Great Presidents. It also shows the machine politics which infected Missouri in the 1930-1940s. Tom Pendergast was the leader of the Kansas City, Missouri machine which put forward its candidates for local, state, and national politics. The real election was not in November, but during the primary when the Democrats made the choice of who their candidates would be. During the general election,the Pendergast machine rigged their wards well with only marginal votes for Republican candidates.

It was not true democracy. Pendergast was convicted of income tax evasion after he didn't declare bribes he "earned" in an insurance settlement scheme. The book details Truman's 1940 Senate election campaign as he attempted to revive his fortunes following the fall of his mentor Tom Pendergast. Truman did not forsake his mentor (neither did he mention him) but managed to defeat the seating governor and prosecutor for his Senate position.

This is a short book. The first chapter doesn't read correctly and the flow is not there. The detail and interest are, and the following chapters have more page turning drama in them. Truman won the campaign and must have impressed FDR since in 1944, Roosevelt gave him the Veep position. The book also details the duplicity of FDR in his dealings with other Democrats.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The title of Truman and Pendergast implys that there is some meaningful and new knowledge regarding the relationship between these two men. This is simply not the case. There is very little about that relationship but rather a rehash of frequently publish information in other bios. This book, while it may be well written, adds nothing to the pile of information already out there. Three-percent of this very short book explored the relationship and ninety-seven percent was about the difficulties experienced by Truman because of the stigma of the relationship. Nothing new. If you want to read some great bios on Truman read TRUMAN by McCullough or MAN OF THE PEOPLE by Hamby.
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