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Truman

Truman

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The Pulitzer Prize–winning biography of Harry S. Truman, whose presidency included momentous events from the atomic bombing of Japan to the outbreak of the Cold War and the Korean War, told by America’s beloved and distinguished historian.

The life of Harry S. Truman is one of the greatest of American stories, filled with vivid characters—Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bess Wallace Truman, George Marshall, Joe McCarthy, and Dean Acheson—and dramatic events. In this riveting biography, acclaimed historian David McCullough not only captures the man—a more complex, informed, and determined man than ever before imagined—but also the turbulent times in which he rose, boldly, to meet unprecedented challenges. The last president to serve as a living link between the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries, Truman’s story spans the raw world of the Missouri frontier, World War I, the powerful Pendergast machine of Kansas City, the legendary Whistle-Stop Campaign of 1948, and the decisions to drop the atomic bomb, confront Stalin at Potsdam, send troops to Korea, and fire General MacArthur. Drawing on newly discovered archival material and extensive interviews with Truman’s own family, friends, and Washington colleagues, McCullough tells the deeply moving story of the seemingly ordinary “man from Missouri” who was perhaps the most courageous president in our history.
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 1120 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743260299 | 
  • August 2003
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David McCullough Wishes He Had This Talent

If David McCullough could acquire any talent, it would be this surprising ability.

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Chapter 1
Blue River Country

As an agricultural region, Missouri is not surpassed by any state in the Union. It is indeed the farmer's kingdom....

The History of Jackson County, Missouri,
1881

I

In the spring of 1841, when John Tyler was President, a Kentucky farmer named Solomon Young and his red-haired wife, Harriet Louisa Young, packed their belongings and with two small children started for the Far West. They had decided to stake their future on new land in the unseen, unfamiliar reaches of westernmost Missouri, which was then the "extreme frontier" of the United States.

They were... see more

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Reading Group Guide

Truman
David McCullough

Questions and Topics For Discussion


  1. Harry S. Truman was born on May 8, 1884. Nearly twenty years prior, Anderson Truman freed his five slaves, Hannah, Marge, and their three daughters in Leavenworth, Kansas. Later on, a keeper of the family would conclude that the Truman's never owned slaves. Since owning slaves was a relatively accepted practice in the Confederacy, why would someone think to rewrite history? How would you describe the turning point in the American social consciousness over slavery? Why do you think it took so long for someone to stand up to Jim Crow, even after the senseless killing of nine African-Americans? How does history influence what lives are valuable within the consciousness of a society? What other factors are at play?
  2. Truman's boyhood was shaped by deeply instilled values. Often eager to please and a "bookworm" Truman was the perfect child. Even at such an early age, Truman displayed a love for politics. What values did Truman hold that would later make him an outstanding politician? A significant part of Truman's moral character was reinforced by his education. Do you think that a similar education should be taught in today's public schools? If so, how?
  3. Truman was a farmer, even though farmers were discouraged to fight, he felt it was his duty to serve in the war in Europe. The president at the time, Woodrow Wilson said, "upon the farmers rested the fat
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