33 - Harry S Truman

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33 - Harry S Truman

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Editado: Maio 10, 2010, 11:52pm

Truman by David McCullough
Harry S. Truman by Margaret Truman

Election Truman (303 electoral votes) vs. Dewey (189) Thurmond (39)

Harry S Truman was playing Poker when he learned he was to be president.
He was the first president to travel underwater in a modern submarine.
His middle name is S. He said, "I was supposed to be named Harrison Shippe Truman, taking the middle name from my paternal grandfather. Others in my family wanted my middle name to be Solomon, taken from my maternal grandfather. But apparently no agreement could be reached and my name was recorded and stands simply as Harry S Truman."
"Tell him to go to hell!" - Truman's first response to the messenger who told him that Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted him to be his running mate.
Truman was only briefed about the atomic bomb for about 30 minutes.
Truman loved to play the piano. In 1948, a piano leg went through the floor of the White House!
Harry S Truman was a great-nephew of John Tyler.
He was the first president to give a speech on television.
Truman was the first president to be paid a salary of $100,000.
Truman was left handed, but his parents made him write with his right hand.
He was a Captain in the field artillery in World War I.
Truman popularized the saying, "If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen."
Harry S Truman was the first president to take office during wartime.

Dez 15, 2008, 6:04pm

Didn't he also have a sign on his presidential desk that read "The Buck Stops Here"?

I plan to read McCullough's biography Truman for my 999 challenge. Anyone want to join me? Maybe we could read it the same month and compare notes

Dez 15, 2008, 8:40pm

He did have such a sign. It is on display in his presidential library in Independence, MO.

Dez 15, 2008, 8:44pm

I have enjoyed all the McCullough books I've read so far, but have not gotten to Truman yet. I might be willing to read together with you - let me know when you plan to begin, and I'll get my hands on a copy (especially easy to come by here - I live in the next town from Independence!)

Dez 15, 2008, 11:00pm

Count me in --if we could make it more toward the end of the year. If I'm doing well on my 999, I'll join you. I don't have this one on the 999 list, but it is definitely a TBR. Like you, I'll read anything by David McCullough. I saw the PBS TV adoption of Truman and it was really good. I am anxious to read the book.

Dez 16, 2008, 12:13am

#4 & 5

I can read it any time because it's on my 999--how about planning it for June. I'll make a note on my reading list if that works for you. Then i will remember to remind you.

Dez 16, 2008, 3:39pm

Sounds good...I love McCullough's books, and by then I hope to have slogged through a few of my biggies (like Dante e.g.,) so I'll be ready for a good read.

Jan 5, 2009, 7:49am

Just a note to encourage those pondering Truman by David McCullough. It was absolutely the best book, fiction, non-fiction, whatever, that I read in 2008. You will not be disappointed!

Jan 22, 2009, 12:28am

I also read David McCullough's Truman. He has got a readable style. It's a huge book--around 1,100 pages, but, for a book that size, it reads fairly quickly.

Jan 30, 2009, 1:27pm

I will also vouch for Truman - it is a fantastic, if lengthy and more than you ever really wanted to know, read. McCullough starts out with the westward migration and Truman's grandparents generation, and then goes from there. Great attention to detail! I liked learning about the conversations Truman had with Justice Brandeis, and about the haberdashery he tried to run before serving in public office. McCullough really gets to Truman's character when relating the crisscrossing of Missouri in his run for office and running the commission on the war effort. It was a memorable life, memorably told.

Mar 25, 2009, 2:53pm

I saw the Publishers Weekly review this week for this one and thought it sounded good so I've reserved it at the library. It's due out in May. Sounds good if you want to read something presidential but a bit on the lighter side.

Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip

by Matthew Algeo

PW calls it a "fascinating reconstruction of Harry and Bess Truman's postpresidential 2,500-mile road trip" (in a 1953 Chrysler) and quotes Truman as saying “I like to take trips—any kind of trip. They are about the only recreation I have besides reading.”

I guess Truman thought he could make this trip incognito but it didn't exactly turn out that way.

Mar 25, 2009, 5:33pm

Well...see how much I learned today just reading this thread. I had no idea that Bess and Harry had taken such a trip...it sounds like a great jaunt...I will definitely put this on the TBR pile.

Abr 23, 2009, 11:10am

Here's a link to the review in the Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124001787126331153.html

Maio 7, 2009, 7:10pm

I'm taking a bit of a break from chronological reading about the presidents and started reading Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip by Matthew Algeo today at lunch.

What a wonderful book!! I'm not all that far into it yet but Algeo's got a nice writing style and so many wonderful anecdotes about Truman and his trip.

Maio 7, 2009, 9:40pm

I just love the title - for me the first half of it conjures up images of Harry Truman in a time traveling elevator a la the Bill and Ted kind...

Ago 1, 2009, 8:00pm

Has anyone read Harry S. Truman: A Life by Robert H. Ferrell? I picked it up for 50 cents at a book sale today and thought it might work for this challenge, but obviously McCullough's book is the favorite.

Set 1, 2009, 8:42pm

So far on Truman I read Truman by David McCullough

Maio 7, 2010, 3:18pm

I read Harry S. Truman by Margaret Truman. I finished it on 10-16-2008.

It is written by his daughter, so as you can imagine, it is very simpathetic to the man and his administration. But thought it was a very good, if unbalanced, read.

BTW, unbalanced is how I hear the McCollough book is as well, but haven't bought that one yet. I have all the other McCollough books, and have ejoyed all of them.

Bill Masom

Jun 15, 2010, 1:07pm

Hey, I just found this group. Pretty cool. I read Plain Speaking: an Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman by Merle Miller a year or so back, but was then disappointed to be tipped off (here on LT) that Miller was found to have embellished (to put it kindly) many of Truman's quotes.

I have the McCullough biography but haven't read it yet.

Jul 3, 2010, 3:59pm


As a Baby Boomer, I sometimes feel Algeo offered too much background about the history of cars, highways, national parks, mid-20th century politics, etc. in Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure.

But I think that's really a plus for younger GenXers and Millennials who might not have remembered this stuff being on the news and who want to get a sense of how the country, particularly the Midwest, has changed.

And, as always, Harry Truman makes for very engaging reading.

I think Algeo errs when he says Truman only hated two men, Nixon and a Missouri pol who ran for governor.

I think you'd have to add Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Joe Kennedy, and Sen. Joseph McCarthy to that list.

Jul 3, 2010, 5:11pm

#20 -- I think you are absolutely right about the other men Truman hated. All in all, not a bad list to hate, eh? (Though no clue about the "Missouri pol who ran for governor" fellow) I'm with him!

Mar 25, 2011, 12:23am

Out of order, and certainly not comprehensive, but I just finished Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure and found it delightful. An easy read, maybe excessive information about the times, but I enjoyed those snippets. I thought it gave me a different kind of background on Harry. I have McCullough's Truman to read when the time comes for something solid...

Abr 7, 2011, 2:02pm

Just finished,

Plain Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman by Merle Miller

Had it on my TBR pile for way too many years.

Bill Masom

Editado: Abr 7, 2011, 3:20pm

#23> I read Plain Speaking a couple of years back and enjoyed it very much. Sadly, I subsequently learned that many of the quotes that Miller ascribes to Truman are, to put it mildly, fanciful.

Here is the article in American Heritage with the details:

Abr 10, 2011, 8:51am

#24 Wow!

Abr 20, 2011, 10:12pm


Yeah, I read that with a salt shaker always near by.

I didn't know about that article, but someone somewhere tipped me off that the author might have taken "liberties".

I read it because it had been sitting in my TBR pile for way to many years.

Your link to the article is not working. I had to search the site for it. This is where I found it, for anyone else interested in it.


If that doesn't work, it is in the Magazine, volume 46, issue 3, Article titled "Plain Faking?"

Bill "Sarge" Masom

Jun 28, 2011, 11:52am

McCullough's book on Truman is awesome, although I liked the John Adams one more.

Jul 30, 2012, 10:26pm

I just finished David McCullough's Truman (out of order--I should be on Zachary Taylor but I had a great opportunity to read it with a friend and I took her up on it).

I thought it was one of the best books I had ever read. I liked it more than John Adams, maybe because Harry was a local boy. But I don't think I was bored with reading it for even a page. I was leery about the 900+ pages, but one chapter at a time and I got through it in a month, interspersed with other books.

Highly recommended.

Editado: Ago 30, 2012, 9:29am

Just finished McCullough's Truman. Just simply amazing piece if writing.

Set 2, 2012, 7:29pm

Just read 1948:Harry Truman’s Improbable Victory and the Year That Transformed America by David Pietrusza. Outstanding work. Not as great as his 1960:LBJ vs. JFK vs Nixon work but a close runner up. Pietrusza neatly captures election dynamics and personalities. Highly recommended. If there is one book Obama should read before embarking on the final stretch of his campaign against Greg Marmalard & Douglas C. Niedermeyer, this is it!

Editado: Mar 3, 2013, 12:12pm

I just visited Harry Truman's Little White House in Key West. If you are ever down that way it's well with a visit. He seems to have been a delightful man. I would have liked to have say around his poker table. It's something to see, custom built by the sailors on the base.

Editado: Mar 4, 2013, 4:55pm

Reading Truman by McCullough. I like McCullough's writing and therefore like this book. This one as with his other bios shows that he likes his subject. He will point out short comings bit still in a positive way. I do like the book.

Mar 17, 2013, 8:27pm

Truman by David McCullough
Good ole David McCullough! He's always reliable and turns a potentially pedestrian subject into something gripping and fast-moving. I really enjoyed opening up this book each evening before I got into bed. There was something new and interesting every night. It's a big book and it took me quite awhile to get through at my "dip-in" reading rate but it is a great story well told. I like Mr Truman too.

Mar 18, 2013, 6:12am

The McCullough book is indeed great, although he tends to cut Truman more slack in some areas than I think he deserves. The Pietrusza book on the '48 election restores some balance. I'm glad I read both books, though.

Mar 18, 2013, 8:06am

Thanks for the pointer. It's my intention to go back after I've finished a set of 40-odd biographies and read what has been written specifically about the elections. I suspect that the "actual America" might be revealed more truthfully that way.

Mar 18, 2013, 4:03pm

Well you have to try to overlook biases wherever you can. Most biographers tend to admire their subjects -- McCullough certainly likes Truman and Adams. Caro clearly despises LBJ much of the time but the bios are still well worth it. Ambrose struggles to find good in Nixon, although sometimes it is glossed over. Richard Reeves evaluates the Presidencies only, so it is easier to focus upon how each man dealt with that specific chapter of his life. A great biography gives you "warts and all" whenever that is possible. It can be challenging, because great men can have great flaws. There are things I greatly admire about Jefferson, for instance, but also much that leaves me shaking my head.

Jan 7, 2016, 9:21pm

I just finished Truman by David McCullough. I thought it was a great read. Of course, I like all McCullough's books. As with most of the Presidents, I knew little about Harry S. Truman. One of the biggest takeaways was that Truman was just an everyday guy from Missouri; a very down to earth guy. It's amazing the world events he was involved in: dropping the atom bomb, the end of WWII, Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, the Berlin airlift, recognition of Israel, the Cold War and the Korean War. And this does even touch on the bills he signed during his Presidency.

I also have two other books on my self. One by Robert Ferrell and the other by Margaret Truman his daughter.

It's good to see he ranks in the top 10 in most US President ranking polls. Give'em hell Harry.

Jan 22, 2016, 4:30pm

I'm planning on reading that when I get to Truman. I'm reading in order and am currently reading Wilson.

Editado: Jan 2, 2017, 7:42pm

Finally finished Truman by David McCullough. He was a small town boy who never went to college. He had a series of business failures before starting his political career thanks to a local "boss". As president he had major decisions to make about ending WWII, dropping the bomb, and the Korean conflict. He seemed to have good people surrounding him, but he was strong in his own decisions. He remained a stalwart of the country even after he left office. He went on to raise funds for and build his Presidential Library in his hometown of Independence, MO. Bess was the love of his whole life.

Jun 23, 2018, 11:53am

by David McCullough

Mr. McCullough has done a wonderful job of presenting Harry S. Truman and the eras in which he lived. He starts the tale 40 years before Harry Truman was even born, touching on the white settlement of the area and how the two branches of Truman's family made their way to western Missouri. After Truman's birth, he continues to tell how Harry and his family are moved and shaped by the events around them. But by the time Truman reaches middle age, things begin to change--Harry Truman begins to start shaping the things around him. It's an interesting story of a man rising to a series of challenges and climbing to greatness. The biography is unabashedly positive towards its subject. As with the biography I read about Woodrow Wilson, I was prepared to not like Harry Truman. But Mr. McCullough got me viewing things through Truman's point of view and leaving me with a healthy respect of the man.

This one's a huge book, clocking in at 977 pages. (not counting pictures and the bibliography) When I first started on my presidential biography reading project, I was inclined to put the first two on my shelf. Then I started getting more jaded about my readings, not to mention running out of shelf space, and became less interested in building my own history collection. If my desires ever do turn back in that direction, this is one of the first books I'll try to obtain for my collection.

Jun 26, 2018, 6:16pm

I am glad to see someone still reading, I am on George Bush, the junior. I only started saving them from FDR on. Ordered most of them on EBAY so was quite inexpensive.

Out 13, 2018, 8:18pm

I opted for the public library--even more inexpensive! ;-)