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Harry S Truman
Suggested Reading



"All the president is, is a glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing, and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway. "

Harry S. Truman: His Life and Times
(Brian Burnes)
Here we see Truman in his most public roles; as "senator from Pendergast," successor to FDR, maker of such controversial decisions as the dropping of the atomic bomb and the firing of General Douglas MacArthur. But throughout these events Harry Truman revealed his innermost thoughts to his family in thousands of hand-written memoirs. The ways he approached the decisions he made were widely attributed by Truman and those who knew him to lessons learned in the earlier, less public part of his life.

Harry Truman and Civil Rights: Moral Courage and Political Risks
(Michael R. Gardner, George Mckee Elsey (Foreword), Kweisi Mfume (Foreword))
Given his background, President Truman was an unlikely champion of civil rights. Where he grew up—the border state of Missouri—segregation was accepted and largely unquestioned. Both his maternal and paternal grandparents had owned slaves, and his beloved mother, victimized by Yankee forces, railed against Abraham Lincoln for the remainder of her ninety-four years. When Truman assumed the presidency on April 12, 1945, Michael R. Gardner points out, Washington, DC, in many ways resembled Cape Town, South Africa, under apartheid rule circa 1985. Truman’s background notwithstanding, Gardner shows that it was Harry Truman—not Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, or John F. Kennedy—who energized the modern civil rights movement, a movement that basically had stalled since Abraham Lincoln had freed the slaves. Gardner recounts Truman’s public and private actions regarding black Americans. He analyzes speeches, private conversations with colleagues, the executive orders that shattered federal segregation policies, and the appointments of like-minded civil rights activists to important positions. Among those appointments was the first black federal judge in the continental United States. One of Gardner’s essential and provocative points is that the Frederick Moore Vinson Supreme Court—a court significantly shaped by Truman—provided the legal basis for the nationwide integration that Truman could not get through the Congress. Challenging the myth that the civil rights movement began with Brown vs. Board of Education under Chief Justice Earl Warren, Gardner contends that the life-altering civil rights rulings by the Vinson Court desegregating higher education, housing, and interstate travel provided the necessary legal framework for the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision.

Gardner characterizes Truman’s evolution from a man who grew up in a racist household into a president willing to put his political career at mortal risk by actively supporting the interests of black Americans.

The Autobiography of Harry S. Truman
(Harry S. Truman, Robert H. Ferrell (Editor))
The Autobiography of Harry S. Truman is a compilation of autobiographical writings composed by Truman between 1934 and 1972. Taken directly from his own manuscript material, the volume presents the thoughts and feelings of the man himself. The book touches on details in Truman's life from his days as a boy until graduation from Independence High School in 1901 to the vice presidency of the United States and beyond. There is also a memorandum written by Truman about the Pendergast machine in Kansas City telling how it was possible to work with the machine and not be soiled by it. The Autobiography concludes with some of the retired president's thoughts about politics and the purposes of public life.

Truman
(David McCullough)
This warm biography of Harry Truman is both an historical evaluation of his presidency and a paean to the man's rock-solid American values. Truman was a compromise candidate for vice president, almost an accidental president after Roosevelt's death 12 weeks into his second term. Truman's stunning come-from-behind victory in the 1948 election showed how his personal qualities of integrity and straightforwardness were appreciated by ordinary Americans, perhaps, as McCullough notes, because he was one himself. His presidency was dominated by enormously controversial issues: he dropped the atomic bomb on Japan, established anti-Communism as the bedrock of American foreign policy, and sent U.S. troops into the Korean War. In this winner of the 1993 Pulitzer Prize, McCullough argues that history has validated most of Truman's war-time and Cold War decisions.

Where the Buck Stops: The Personal and Private Writings of Harry S. Truman
(Margaret Truman)
Shortly after he left office, President Harry S. Truman began to write down his typically blunt, honest commentaries about FDR and his other colleagues, the job of the presidency, the workings of the government and the Constitution -- and his picks for the nation's best and worst presidents. Since he minced no words, Truman asked that these writings -- sometimes funny, sometimes very serious, always to the point -- be released to the public only after he and Mrs. Truman were gone.

Now, this totally frank book by the thirty-third president, lovingly edited by his daughter, Margaret, has been published at last. In it, Truman speaks clearly in his own inimitable voice, and with the down-home, across-the-back-fence feeling of a born storyteller from Missouri, he tells you exactly what's on his mind about these and other subjects:

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