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By attention shifted elsewhere: communism, McCarthy, and the Korean War. While he championed civil rights desegregated the military by executive order , he did not fare as well with civil liberties Federal Employee Loyalty Program. On recognizing the new nation of Israel, Truman had no hidden agenda; he just wanted a fair deal for the Jews of Europe after their treatment by the Nazis It was a decision made against the advice both Marshall and his own staff.

He viewed his decision to enter the war as the toughest of his administration. This was not communist subversion or guerilla tactics but a crude takeover that challenged the credibility of the US and the newly formed UN The Soviets were caught off guard by the reaction believing the US had clearly excluded Korea from their defensive perimeter. The British were indignant and met with Truman to ensure we did not intend to use nuclear weapons He famously fired General MacArthur over his public insubordination In , he gave the go-ahead to develop the hydrogen bomb after the Soviets detonated an A-bomb Truman was growing tired under the strain and Eisenhower seemed certain to beat Stevenson in the upcoming election Stevenson tried to distance his campaign from Truman being snubbed irritated Truman greatly Ike won decisively capturing the presidency and both houses of Congress Truman returned to Independence.

He worked on his memoirs and arranged for the construction of a library to house his presidential papers and memorabilia He also refused to pick fights because of the perceived need for national unity over foreign policy. Although not a big fan of either JFK or LBJ, he largely approved of their domestic policies but abhorred the growing public demonstrations He detested Nixon, who all but accused him of treason over communism.

He loved spending time in his library, giving tours to thousands of high school students. He died of heart failure on Dec 26, Oct 28, Steve rated it really liked it. Ferrell is a historian, a highly-regarded authority on Truman and the author of more than two-dozen books. While a student at Yale, Ferrell studied under renowned historian Samuel Flagg Bemis and later became a professor of history at Indiana University for more than two decades.

Nevertheless, while Ferrell is a skilled historian and astute analyst he is not a gifted storyteller. His narrative is often carefully constructed and cleverly analytical but, with some notable exceptions, rarely elegant or engrossing.

Harry S. Truman — Life at the White House

Instead, he was the perfect person to occupy the White House at a pivotal moment in time. There are many excellent moments in this surprisingly detailed and potent biography. Among the most glaring is that a great deal of context and color is missing from the narrative. And some key figures — FDR chief among them — are described in a surprisingly tendentious two-dimensional manner which serves the narrative at the expense of a more robust and realistic description of the people involved.

This book is friendly but not obsequious and tilts toward a deliberately thoughtful, analytical style which is rarely engaging or dynamic — but will leave any student of Harry Truman enlightened if not delighted. View 1 comment. Jul 10, Regina Lindsey rated it liked it Shelves: s , 20th-century , adult-nonfiction , american-presidents , american-president , biography , cold-war , communism , government , historical-biography.

Harry Truman, of Independence Missouri, was the last president to serve with no college degree.

Instead he joined the army and served in WWI where he discovered he was a leader of men. Upon returning home he discovered he had a political base to run for county office. From there he progressed in elected offices until he reached the presidency when FDR passed away and as vice-president assumed the Harry Truman, of Independence Missouri, was the last president to serve with no college degree. From there he progressed in elected offices until he reached the presidency when FDR passed away and as vice-president assumed the responsibility of the presidency.

He and FDR were a complete dichotomy as personalities go.


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This combined with the inherent challenges an unelected president has historically faced created real obstacles for Truman. The nation was accustomed to the charismatic, articulate, and often flamboyant Roosevelt.


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  4. Instantly they inherited a reserved, ineloquent, humble, but decisive Truman. While popular until the end of WWII, Truman had a serious fight for his political life on his hand in securing the nomination in '48 and eventually the election where fewer than half of the eligible voters voted for either he or Dewey leading to the famous headlines miscalling the election. I think the biggest surprise for me was learning about the personality of Truman.

    That often gets lost, I think, because of the larger historical events with which he was managing. He is also portrayed as a man not afraid to "reach across the aisle. On the one hand many had anticipated Hoover running as a Democrat and Truman apparently had a great deal of respect for Hoover early in his career. Also, sought input from two Republican presidential candidates who were unsuccessful — Dewey and Alf Landon. This is certainly a contrast to the environment we see today. While the book was informative, I found it incredibly lacking.

    I was excited to dig into Truman because this is the intersection of three areas of history in which I do so much reading: presidential history, WWII, and Middle East. In fact, he simply puts forth that nothing else could have been done. While it is certainly possible that Truman's course of action may have been the best of very difficult circumstances a view I will readily admit is not my own in a couple of areas, but would agree in others for a historian to take that blase without a little exploration is incredibly disappointing.

    May 07, Mark Nenadov rated it really liked it Shelves: american-history , american-politics , biographical , american-presidents , s , s. The fascinating story of a man from Independence, Missouri who became president and led the country through some of the most momentous events in the 20th century. Historian Robert H.

    Farrell who has made a study of the life and presidency of Harry S. Truman has written a popular new biography of the 33rd president. It is one of the best studies of Truman I've ever read. The secret of Truman's success I believe is two fold. He was in fact Mr. Average Man. Born in in Lamar, Missouri he graduated high school and was the last president to not attend college. Upon graduating in he held a variety of jobs trying to find a proper career like so many of us th Historian Robert H.

    Upon graduating in he held a variety of jobs trying to find a proper career like so many of us then and now. He was active in the national guard in Missouri and when we entered World War 1 he had more than honorable service as a captain of an artillery battery. When he was discharged after serving Truman married the girl he'd been courting Bess Wallace.

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    He and a fellow veteran Eddie Jacobson opened a haberdashery store which went bankrupt. But at that point Truman discovered politics because among others he served with was the son of the Kansas City and Jackson County boss Jim Pendergast son of Tom Pendergast. Both decided that Truman would have a good future in politics as he was popular with returning veterans. He was put up as a candidate for presiding judge in Jackson County.

    The title judge here was not a legal one, he was a member of a board of three that ran Jackson County. He was the Senator from Pendergast and a lot in the Senate kept him at arm's length. But he did have a few friends among his colleagues. Although he voted pretty much down the line for the New Deal measures he was held at arm's length by a lot of FDR's official and unofficial government family.

    So much so that they worked against him in in the Democratic primary where he squeaked out a win in a three way race.

    The Life and Presidency of Harry S. Truman

    His second term in the Senate brought him good reviews for his handling of a special committee that investigated waste fraud in war spending. Truman struck a fine balance between a White House rubber stamp and a committee like several in the past that did interfere with war policies. His good reviews there made FDR reassess him and his geographical location and good labor voting record made him an acceptable alternative to Vice President Henry A. Wallace who was being dumped. The second reason for his high standing with historians is simply that he became president when America's position in the world was changed radically by the outcome of World War 2.

    The decisions he made regarding foreign and domestic policies are still relevant today. He was a Cold Warrior, one of the first. The high point of his career in that was the Marshall Plan with massive amounts of foreign aid to help Europe recover from WW2. Also the airlift into West Berlin dropping tons of food and medical supplies to Berlin residents as the Russians were trying to force a withdrawal.

    Truman also gave recognition within minutes to the new state of Israel when it was formed. Truman kind of passed into legend when as an underdog because the Democrats were split three ways with J. Strom Thurmond running as a Dixiecrat because Truman was the first Democratic president to come out for civil rights and Henry A. Wallace running to his left as a Progressive Party candidate who felt he was wrong on the Cold War.

    Governor Thomas E. Dewey the GOP candidate in was a betting favorite yet Truman pulled out a re-election in his last campaign.

    Harry S. Truman

    A lot of lower level appointees got caught up in scandals, some of the old Pendergast crowd he took care of. One of his worst decisions was having the army take over the operation of the steel mills against the striking unions. The Supreme Court came down hard against him. And he fired an insubordinate Douglas MacArthur as our commander in Korea.

    The Republicans winning with Ike Eisenhower was considered a repudiation of Truman's policies in some eyes. But time has brought a favorable reassessment of him. I think his best moments as an ex-President his going to the White House when Lyndon Johnson signed the bill establishing Medicare. Harry and Bess Truman were the recipients of the first Medicare cards.

    Truman was the very first president to talk about health insurance at all though he could not get it passed. Truman died in at the age of A lot of folks came around and realized his greatness. We feel it every day still in the things he did and advocated. Jan 19, Scott Cox rated it it was amazing Shelves: biography , u-s-presidents. Truman catapulted into the Presidency upon the death of Franklin Roosevelt in He had the horrific responsibility of deciding which course of action could quickly bring an end to the Pacific war with the least loss of life.

    He oscillated be Harry S. Truman opted for the bomb. Stalin and his ruthless brand of communist totalitarianism proved to be sui generis, unlike anything the United States had ever previously faced.

    Harry S Truman and the Influences of His Service in World War I (U.S. National Park Service)

    Truman responded quickly to the Soviet blockade of Berlin with his famous airlift of food and supplies. In Truman faced almost impossible reelection odds to upset Republican contender Thomas Dewey. The latter resulted in a long, drawn-out Korean War, as many Asian countries began toppling like dominoes to communism.