Part One -- SON OF THE MIDDLE BORDER
1. Blue River Country
2. Model Boy
3. The Way of the Farmer
Part Two -- POLITICIAN
5. Try, Try Again
6. The Senator from Pendergast
8. Numbered Days
Part Three -- TO THE BEST OF MY ABILITY
9. The Moon, the Stars, and All the Planets
10. Summer of Decision
Part Four -- MR. PRESIDENT
11. The Buck Stops Here
12. Turning Point
13. The Heat in the Kitchen
14. Fighting Chance
Part Five -- WEIGHT OF THE WORLD
15. Iron Man
16. Commander in Chief
17. Final Days
Part Six -- BACK HOME
18. Citizen Truman
David McCullough has twice received the Pulitzer Prize, for Truman and John Adams, and twice received the National Book Award, for The Path Between the Seas and Mornings on Horseback. His other acclaimed books include The Johnstown Flood, The Great Bridge, Brave Companions, 1776, The Greater Journey, The American Spirit, and The Wright Brothers. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award. Visit DavidMcCullough.com.
Cracker-barrel plain in speech and looks, this seemingly ordinary man turned out to be one of our most dynamic presidents. It was Harry S. Truman who ordered the atomic bomb dropped, halted Communists in Turkey and Greece, initiated the Marshall Plan, NATO and the Berlin Airlift, ordered desegregation of the armed forces, established the CIA and the Defense Department, committed U.S. forces to Korea and upheld the principle of civilian control over the military by firing Gen. Douglas MacArthur. McCullough ( Mornings on Horseback ) has written a surefooted, highly satisfying biography of the 33rd president, one that not only conveys in rich detail Truman's accomplishments as a politician and statesman, but also reveals the character and personality of this constantly-surprising man--as schoolboy, farmer, soldier, merchant, county judge, senator, vice president and chief executive. The book relates how Truman (1884-1972) overcame the stigma of business failure and debt (as well as the accusation that he was ``bellboy'' to Kansas City's Pendergast machine) and acquired a reputation for honesty, reliability and common sense. McCullough pays considerable attention to Truman's family, especially his fervent and touching courtship of Bess Wallace, the idolized love of his life. Her mother never felt Truman was good enough for her daughter, even after he became president. The book's re-creation of the 1948 presidential campaign, during which Newsweek 's poll of 50 political writers predicted that the incumbent would lose the election to Thomas Dewey, is the most complete account of that surprise victory to date. The book is an impressive tribute to a man whose brisk cheerfulness and self-confidence were combined with a God-fearing humility; a great and good man who, in McCullough's opinion, was a great president. Photos not seen by PW. BOMC main selection; History Book Club and QPB alternatives; author tour. (June)
"Meticulously detailed, elegantly written, tightly constructed,
rich in revealing anecdotes and penetrating insights. It is, as its
subject demands, biography on the grand scale."
-- Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
"A warm, affectionate and thoroughly captivating biography....the most thorough account of Truman's life yet to appear. "
-- Alan Brinkley, The New York Times Book Review
"McCullough's marvelous feel for history is based on an appreciation of colorful tales and an insight into personalities. In this compelling saga of America's greatest common-man president, McCullough adds luster to an old-fashioned historical approach...the sweeping narrative, filled with telling details and an appreciation of the role individuals play in, shaping the world."
-- Walter Isaacson, Time
"Remarkable....you may open it at any point and instantly become fascinated, so easy, lucid, and energetic is the narrative and so absorbing the sequence of events."
-- The Economist
"McCullough is a master storyteller whose considerable narrative skills have been put to exquisite use in re-creating the life and times of America's 33rd president."
-- Robert Dallek, Los Angeles Times Book Review
McCullough's life of Harry Truman is a Sandburg's Lincoln for the 1990s. Biographer of Theodore Roosevelt, historian of the Johnstown flood, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Panama Canal, clearly McCullough found not just a new subject but a hero too when he began research in 1982. As with Roosevelt in Mornings on Horseback ( LJ 5/15/81), he is concerned above all with defining Truman's character. With poetry and reverence he writes of the farmer, haberdasher, and local official whom accident and ambition raised to unprecedented power, yet who left the White House an American everyman. Skeptics uneasy with McCullough's Truman in mystic communion with America's spirit will recall the raw politics described by Richard Miller in Truman: The Rise to Power ( LJ 12/85). For detailed treatment of policy, scholars will often need a specialized monograph. Yet McCullough's Truman is not quite a saint, and his own scholarship is exhaustive in portraying Truman the man. No biography approaches the richness, depth, or grace of this one. For all libraries. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/92.-- Robert F. Nardini, North Chichester, N.H.