Customer Reviews of Truman
Surprising for a biography, this was a page-turner.
At first the size of this book can seem daunting. However, from the very first page I found it fascinating. For most of the 1,000 or so pages it read like a novel, a real page-turner. Because of the kind of time commitment necessary to read a book of this size, I read it in sections over a couple months, reading other things in between. Having lived through most of the significant events discussed in the book, I found them presented with accuracy. Mr. McCullough showed all sides of every significant conflict. The book gives a fascinating insight into the difficulties of public office and the setting of public policy. It also presents Harry S. Truman as a man of real integrity and one who will, in the long run, undoubtedly go down as one of our great presidents. Throughout this book I was consistently impressed with Mr. Mccullough's writing style. Anyone who can keep the pages turning for 1,000 pages of biography is an extremely skilled writer! I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in 20th century American history, but also to anyone interested in just plain good writing!
The biography of an authentic American
I am a great fan of biographies of great men. This is the first time I have ached to spend time in the company of the subject of a biography. There is something about Harry Truman --underestimated, shrewd, fallible, magnificent, decent and straight-taliking -- that comes across in this biography. I highly recommend this book.
A superb biography of a great President!
David McCullough's Pulitzer Prize winning biography "Truman" is undoubtedly the best Presidential biography I've read in recent years. Written in a graceful and powerfully eloquent style, it is meticulously researched, and accurately captures the essence of the man who was the 33rd President of the United States.
McCullough challenges a commonly held view of history that Harry S Truman was nothing more than a common man of mediocre abilities who became President almost by accident, and owed his political success to his loyalty to the Democratic party and the Kansas City political bosses. By tracing the life of this self-made man - a farmer, artillery captain during World War I, haberdasher, local politician, U.S. Senator, Vice President, and ultimately President of the United States - the author acquaints the reader with a highly intelligent, competent and complex man. Here is seen the highly principled politician whose ability to judge the character of others enabled him to select outstanding men like Dean Acheson and George Marshall to serve in his administration; a Chief Executive capable of making some of the most momentous decisions of the twentieth century, such as ordering the use of the atomic bomb against Japan in 1945, integrating the Armed Forces in 1948, and firing General Douglas MacArthur in 1951. But, here also is seen a man who remained loyal to personal friends and Democratic party bosses and tolerant of their often disreputable activities; and who, in a fit of petty anger, authored a threatening letter to a music critic who wrote unfavorably about his daughter.
"Truman" is above all a fair and balanced portrait of one of the most unique and greatest of American Presidents. In my view, this extraordinarily well written book is destined to be the biography of Harry S Truman against which all others will be measured. Highly recommended!
Superb Coverage Of An Amazing Man's Life and Times!
Into the press of circumstance and the irony of history strode the diminutive and bespectacled Harry S. Truman, who promptly grinned his way into becoming the single most surprising President of the 20th century. Written off as a party hack of the Missouri democratic machine until very late in his political career, Truman astounded everyone by picking up the shambles left in the wake of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's sudden death and turning in a deft and remarkable performance against the most formidable of odds. In this best-selling biography by noted author and historian David McCullough (The Path Between The Seas), one is treated to a massively informative and yet immensely readable treatment of Truman's life and times. The author uses a treasure-trove of newly available archives, personal interviews, and historical records to show how the unassuming man from Missouri who everyone under-appreciated became responsible for everything from the successful conclusion of WWII to the Marshall Plan to the formation of NATO to the Berlin Airlift rose to assume the Presidency in one of our nation's darkest moments.
From his first halting steps as a young man rising out of poverty and a farm family background to become a sudden war hero who led men bravely in combat, from his frequent missteps and failures as a post-war businessman to a first failed try for local political office, from his quick rise from county-level politics to become the darling and frequent benefactor of the quite colorful Pendergast political machine, this is the stuff of a momentous 20th century life, told as well as it can be by a master of historical biographies. Truman, who arose from a family beset by tragedy, missteps, and misfortune, was saddled before adulthood with the responsibilities and burdens that were so common for those coming of age early in this century. His is the story of a man who kept trying, arising again and again when life and misfortune knocked him down, and like the proverbial hero of one of Horatio Alger's novels, Truman's persistence and dogged courage before personal defeat eventually brought him to public prominence and to the United States Senate.
Once established in the Senate, Truman quite rapidly (and totally unexpectedly) proved himself a consummate diplomat, negotiator, and dogged proponent for what was right, rational, and reasonable. In doing so, he earned himself a reputation as man with uncommon moral character and indefatigable energy. Later this strength of character and ability to do the hard things when pressed to do so proved invaluable, as in the decision to employ the atomic bomb against Japan and to fire that most vexing and perplexing of military war heroes, the legendary Douglas MacArthur. McCullough's treatment reveals for us the drama of Truman's sudden and unexpected tour as President; a terrifying, wrenching and extraordinarily difficult balancing act for someone left so singularly unprepared and unprepared as was Truman. Yet so masterful was his balancing act that he became a legend himself by simply being himself, a man who believed in all of the traditional verities and virtues, a man of the common people who was always unassuming, self-effacing, and quick to admit his own mistakes.
This is truly a wonderful book, one I have read several times simply because I find its depiction of Truman as being quite inspirational. Here was a man who rose to meet the challenges of his life and his times, a most unexpected leader and role model who showed us, even in his death, that the role of the man of enduring virtue participating in public life is an achievable and workable goal, that we can have people with moral direction and the courage of their convictions to serve us and the country at large as President. Especially now, in the age of mental midgets and errant sons of former presidents running for office, it is wonderful to remember a time when an ordinary man proved just how extraordinary he could be. Enjoy!
This is the BEST book I have ever read!
I read this book two years ago during a Christmas vacation. At first, I was intimidated by the sheer size of the book. However, I found that once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down! David McCullough is, perhaps, the best American historical biographer alive today. His writing is crisp, clean, and entertaining. I have to admit that before I started this book, I was pretty ignorant about who Harry S Truman was as a person, as well as the contributions that he made to the United States and to the world as President. I was absolutely STUNNED to learn how influential and accomplished Truman was during his presidency. Truman left a legacy of good works that still impact the world in which we live today. Like one earlier reviewer wrote, I too had always been looking for a hero, someone who came from humble beginnings and made a lasting impact on the world in which he lived. I found that hero in the pages of David McCullough's book. As I finished the last page of this book, I felt like both crying (because I was saying goodbye to a friend that I had grown to love), and cheering (because I had found my American Hero in Harry S Truman). This book should be a must-read for every American!