Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics
 

Great books you should read: Truman by David McCullough

Posted by Jason O on Jan 23, 2009 in Books |

Now that's what you call a President!Sometimes, a country just gets a break, and the most unlikely of people end up being the right man at the right time. When FDR was elected president in 1932, Harry S. Truman was a county judge (A kind of super county councillor.) in rural Missouri. Twelve years later, he was President and a reluctant one at that, bullied into the vice presidency by Democratic powerbrokers who didn’t want then Vice President Wallace (The closest the US ever got to having a European style socialist in the White House.) as president, and chose Truman as the least harmful option.

David McCullough’s Truman is very open in it’s admiration of its subject, but don’t let that put you off. The story rolls easy, taking the reader through the stunning list of challenges that faced him. He decided to use the atomic weapon (He felt he would have been impeached if he had not used this “wonderweapon” to quickly end the war with Japan.), split the Democratic party by supporting civil rights, faced down an exceptionally popular Douglas McArthur over the issue of who decided foriegn policy (McArthur wanted to invade China!) at massive personal cost to himself politically, and rebuilt Europe with Marshall Aid and secured European freedom with NATO. He also won the 1948 presidential election when every single national political corrspondent had written him off.  All this whilst surviving an assasination attempt by Puerto Rican nationalists (He watched the gun battle from his bedroom window.) and having a mother in law  who felt her daughter could have done better, even after he was elected president in his own right in 1948!

A truly great man, and the book is a treat, particularly in audiobook format over a long drive or journey. Go on, treat yourself!

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