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.