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I have read many biographies about Harry S. Truman (1884-1972). In this book A. J. Baime narrows the scope of the book to the first four months of the presidency. The author does provide some early history of Truman so the reader understands how events came about.
On April 12, 1945, Eleanor Roosevelt summoned Truman to the White House to inform him of the death of FDR. Truman said his worst nightmare immediately became a reality. He had only been Vice President for three months and had not been informed about anything by FDR. It would have been extremely difficult for anyone to follow in the footsteps of the charismatic Roosevelt. Truman was honest, decisive and hardworking. Some of the problems he faced that Baime goes into in depth are:
1. The war with Germany
2. The war with Japan
3. Learned about the Manhattan project. Had to decide about using the bomb on Japan.
4. The founding of the United Nations
5. The devastation of Europe and the starving refugees. He sent President Hoover to Europe to deal with the logistics of feeding the people. He and General Marshall developed the Marshall Plan to deal with Europe.
6. Russia posed challenges and different goals. Stalin failed to honor any of his agreements he made with Churchill and Roosevelt about Eastern Europe. Russia developed the atomic bomb and the cold war began.
The book is well-written and meticulously researched. Baime is a journalist and the book is written in that style. Baime detailed a chronology as to how Truman transformed into a president and leader of the world. Baime makes history come alive and makes an enjoyable read. The book is well organized. Truman faced many difficult situations over his presidency that had great effect upon the world and the United States. In fact, Baime claims no other president in the history of the United States has faced such difficulties at the beginning of their presidency.
Tony Messano does a good job narrating the book. Messano is a voice-over artist and audiobook narrator. This is my first experience with listening to Messano.
19 of 20 people found this review helpful
I'm a fan of A.J. Baime. He writes well-researched and interesting books.
Harry Truman's life story is well-known: A somewhat obscure Senator who was drafted as Roosevelt's Vice President for an unprecedented fourth term. Truman didn't want to be Vice President. But he was as shocked as the rest of the Nation when Roosevelt died only a couple of months into the fourth term.
Baime does not try to write a comprehensive account of Truman's life. Rather, the book offers an almost hour by hour account of the first four months of Truman's presidency in which many truly momentous events that would shape the world occurred, from victory over Germany to Hiroshima (Truman did not even know about the atomic bomb until after he was president).
Truman was thrust into these circumstances largely unprepared, because Roosevelt made almost no effort to educate Truman or to draw Truman into his inner circle. My guess is that Roosevelt--who surely must have had a monumental ego--simply never contemplated the possibility of his own demise very seriously.
Truman did better than most would have expected. One emerges from the book with a heightened respect for Truman, and a somewhat diminished view of Roosevelt. That is not due to any effort on Baime's part--he simply lays out very cogently what happened.
One thing that I really like about this book is how it moves. Baime does not dawdle nor does he make needless digressions. It is a very straight-forward book about a very straight-forward man.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful