This enormous book is not the type I often undertake. I read it in order to be able to discuss it with my daughter who was also reading it, and I’m so glad I did! I gained an appreciation for Truman that I did not have before, as well as a good history lesson of the time.
Truman never went to college, and was a farm boy when he enlisted in WWI. He grew up reading all the books in the library and practicing piano two hours a day. He is said to never have had an idle moment, and also that never in his career did he make any pretense of being superior in any way. Vice president to FDR when he died, Truman was thrust into a position he never really sought. Then as President, he had to make huge decisions like dropping the atom bomb, financially supporting Europe, and not allowing the Korean War to escalate. An honorable man, in love with his wife and devoted to his daughter, Truman won his second term in office over the biggest odds ever in Presidential politics. The odds against him were 15/1 in favor of Dewey, and as McCollough wrote, “Every expert had been proven wrong; ‘the people’ had made fools of those supposedly in the know.” When finally leaving office, Truman’s popularity was still soaring. As a private citizen later in life, he maintained a schedule of hundreds of speaking engagements a month to enthusiastic crowds. But of his overall career it was said, “He speaks rarely and listens much.” This combined with his genuine humility accounted for his success.
Here are some quotes from him as recorded in the book:
- “Politics is sure the ruination of many a good man.”
- “I wonder how far Moses would have gone if he took a poll in Egypt. It isn’t polls that count but right and wrong.”
- “Success seems to me to be merely a point of view anyway.”
- “What chance is there for honest government when vultures sit on the sidelines?”
- “I won’t sell influence and I’m perfectly willing to be cussed if I’m right.”
- “I ask only to be a good and faithful servant to my Lord and my people.”
Don’t let the size of this excellent five star book put you off from reading it.
Comments from readers:
Joe corroborates and says he found this book “a readable masterpiece.”