By David McCullough
(Simon & Schuster, Hardcover, 9780671456542, 1120pp.)
Publication Date: June 15, 1992
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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.
David McCullough has been widely acclaimed as a “master of the art of narrative history” and “a matchless writer.” He is twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize, twice winner of the National Book Award, and has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award.
Mr. McCullough’s most recent book, The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, the #1 New York Times bestseller, has been called “dazzling,” “an epic of ideas…history to be savored.” His previous work, 1776, has been acclaimed “a classic,” while John Adams, published in 2001, remains one of the most praised and widely read American biographies of all time. More than three million copies are in print and it is presently in its eighty-second printing.
In the words of the citation accompanying his honorary degree from Yale, “As an historian, he paints with words, giving us pictures of the American people that live, breathe, and above all, confront the fundamental issues of courage, achievement, and moral character.”
Mr. McCullough’s other books include The Johnstown Flood, The Great Bridge, The Path between the Seas, Mornings on Horseback, Brave Companions, and Truman. His work has been published in ten languages and, in all, more than 9,500,000 copies are in print. As may be said of few writers, none of his books has ever been out of print.
Mr. McCullough is also twice winner of the prestigious Francis Parkman Prize, and for his work overall, he has been honored by the National Book Foundation Distinguished Contribution to American Letters Award and the National Humanities Medal. He has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has received forty-seven honorary degrees.
In a crowded, productive career, he has been an editor, essayist, teacher, lecturer, and familiar presence on public television—as host of Smithsonian World, The American Experience, and narrator of numerous documentaries, including Ken Burns’s The Civil War. His is also the narrator’s voice in the movie Seabiscuit.
John Adams, the seven-part mini-series on HBO, produced by Tom Hanks and starring Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney, was one of the most acclaimed and talked about television events of recent years.
A gifted speaker, Mr. McCullough has lectured in all parts of the country and abroad, as well as at the White House. He is also one of the few private citizens to speak before a joint session of Congress.
Born in Pittsburgh in 1933, Mr. McCullough was educated there and at Yale, where he graduated with honors in English literature. He is an avid reader and traveler, and has enjoyed a lifelong interest in art and architecture. He is a devoted painter as well. Mr. McCullough and his wife, Rosalee Barnes McCullough, have five children and eighteen grandchildren.
“McCullough’s marvelous feel for history is based on an appreciation of colorful tales and an insight into
personalities. In this compelling saga of America’s greatest common-man president, McCullough adds luster to an old-fashioned historical approach . . . the sweeping narrative, filled with telling details and an appreciation of the role individuals play in shaping the world.”
—Walter Isaacson, Time
“McCullough is a master storyteller whose considerable narrative skills have been put to exquisite use in re-creating the life and times of America’s 33rd president.”
—Robert Dallek, Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Perhaps the highest tribute one can pay a biographer is to say that through him one comes to know his subject almost as though in person. In fostering the reader’s acquaintance with Harry Truman, not once does McCullough get in the way. This is in every respect a splendid work.”
—Myron A. Marty, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Since I’ve been in national politics, whenever I’ve been asked who my favorite political leader of the century is, I have always said Harry Truman…. David McCullough has always been a favorite of mine. The Truman biography is outstanding.”
—Jimmy Carter, The Boston Phoenix
“Exemplary and riveting…. The book is like a comfortable Victorian three-decker novel. There are two plots, a hero and heroine, and a glittering cast of characters ranging from Dean Acheson, Churchill and General Marshall to the Pendergasts and General MacArthur, as well as a splendid collection of Shakespearean clowns…. McCullough’s book will stand for a long time as the outstanding analysis of an extremely important subject: the greatness of Truman, and its role as an exogenous ‘cause’ in the history of his time.”
—Eugene V. Rostow, Times Literary Supplement, London
“An impressive and valuable study of Truman, worthy of its subject.”
—C. Vann Woodward, The New York Review
“Truman is biography as good as it gets, as absorbing and readable as it is voluminous. McCullough writes like a novelist, digs like a zealous reporter and puts things in perspective like the superb historian he is.”
—Lorenzo Carcaterra, People magazine
“This is the biography of President Harry S. Truman against which not only all other Truman biographies but probably all other presidential biographies will be measured. It is comprehensive, well reasoned, insightful and yet elegantly simple. It is written with a love for the subject that is contagious.”
—Steve Weinberg, The Kansas City Star
“McCullough takes us on a beautifully guided tour of recent history—a journey that is as much a celebration of American experience as it is a captivating portrait of the ordinary ‘man from Missouri’ who became an extraordinary figure in the Cold War world. Keeping Truman himself always vividly in the foreground, Mr. McCullough has written a stirring, masterly, thoroughly absorbing book.”
—Jean Strouse, author of Alice James: A Biography
“Superbly researched and carried forward by McCullough’s narrative drive, Truman is endlessly readable. The Harry we were all wild about is re-created exactly as Harry was—feisty, preposterous, decisive, tireless, outrageous, but always honorable, always courageous, always guided by his inner gyroscope of conscience and character.”
—William Manchester, author of William Spencer Churchill: The Last Lion