Here at last is the first full-scale biography of Harry S. Truman, his life and times, by David McCullough, distinguished historian and prize-winning author.Huge, ambitious, ten years in the writing, and perfectly realized, "Truman" is an American masterpiece about that most American of presidents, "the man from Missouri, " the seemingly simple, ordinary man who in fact was always much more than met the eye and who would achieve a greatness of his own after coming to office in FDR's giant shadow.No one but David McCullough, with his sure grasp of the American past and his feeling for people, could have written this extraordinary, deeply moving biography, at once spare in style yet rich in emotion and insight.Much of the story is drawn from newly discovered archival material and from extensive interviews with Truman friends, family, and figures once prominent in Truman's Washington. And much will com as a surprise to many readers.The story begins with Truman's origins in the raw, expansive world of the Missouri frontier. It chronicles a small-town, turn-of-the-century boyhood, family love, family tragedy, and young harry's years on the farm - years of relentless, often brutal work always cheerfully performed; of dogged learning, dogged courtship, optimism in the face of defeat, and courage in the face of war in 19418, the experience that changed everthing for Truman.Here in colorful detail is the story of his political beginnings with the powerful Pendergast machine that ruled Kansas City, and of Boss Tom Pendergast who sent Truman to the United States Senate, where rapidly, unexpectedly, he proved himself no small-time party hack but a man of uncommon vitality andstrength of character.With a telling account of Truman at Potsdam and his momentous decision to use the atomic bomb, McCullough's "Truman" shows a gritty, untried, unprepared new President facing responsibilities such as had weighed on no man ever before, confronting a new age and the growing menace of Soviet power, and, in a handful of years, under terrible pressures, defining the course of American politics and diplomacy for the next forty years.
This warm biography of Harry Truman is both an historical evaluation of his presidency and a paean to the man's rock-solid American values. Truman was a compromise candidate for vice president, almost an accidental president after Roosevelt's death 12 weeks into his fourth term. Truman's stunning come-from-behind victory in the 1948 election showed how his personal qualities of integrity and straightforwardness were appreciated by ordinary Americans, perhaps, as McCullough notes, because he was one himself. His presidency was dominated by enormously controversial issues: he dropped the atomic bomb on Japan, established anti-Communism as the bedrock of American foreign policy, and sent U.S. troops into the Korean War. In this winner of the 1993 Pulitzer Prize, McCullough argues that history has validated most of Truman's war-time and Cold War decisions.