Pulitzer Prize, Biography/Autobiography, 1993
Hailed by critics as an American masterpiece, David McCullough's sweeping biography of Harry S. Truman captured the heart of the nation. The life and times of the 33rd president of the United States, Truman provides a deeply moving look at an extraordinary, singular American.
From Truman's small-town, turn-of-the-century boyhood and his transforming experience in the face of war in 1918, to his political beginnings in the powerful Pendergast machine and his rapid rise to prominence in the U.S. Senate, McCullough shows a man of uncommon vitality and strength of character.
Here too is a telling account of Truman's momentous decision to use the atomic bomb and the weighty responsibilities that he was forced to confront on the dawning of a new age.
Distinguished historian and Pulitzer-Prize-winning author David McCullough tells one of the greatest American stories in this stirring audio adaptation of Truman - a compelling, classic portrait of a life that shaped history.
©2011 Simon & Schuster (P)2003 David McCullough
“McCullough’s marvelous feel for history is based on an appreciation of colorful tales and an insight intopersonalities. 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)
My mother (95yrs old) didn't really care much for Truman, but she is a Republican. Her father died when she was a child leaving a wife and 10 children. They all had to struggle like everyone else during those years, and didn't see what the big political fuss was all about, that would result in so many more taxes on the common man. I was not in the picture so I can't give a first hand opinion of the person or presidency of Truman, but I can say if this LONG history of his private and political life is accurate, I have to admire him. He reminds me of the honest, hard-working man my father was (also a Republican). I believe Truman really did feel all the social programs he supported were going to be used responsibly and benefit the 'little man'. Good thing he isn't living today, eh?
The reader sounds exactly like I imagined Truman's voice and emphasis would be.
A retired Navy sailor AND a former civil servant, I'm happy to be living in paradise.
History told true!
I had read this hardcover book when it came out twenty years ago and was enthralled with it. In fact, I've always enjoyed ANYTHING David McCullough has written. SO, when I found this book at audible.com, I JUMPED at the chance and purchased it. I was definitely NOT disappointed and found the book to be just as OUTSTANDING the second time around.
The story takes the reader from two generations prior to the birth of Harry Truman to his death. It's a tale that has Americana written all over it. It's the story of a man who experienced multiple failures throughout his life and, yet, trudges on and endures eventually becoming bt of the United States. Even after his presidency, he never complains at the fact that it took people MANY years to fully realize his accomplishments.
The true moral to this story is: Failures are stepping stones to ultimate and fulfilling success, if you allow them to be just that.
I have not, but will find books by this narrator in the future. His style is terrific.
This book was truly enlightening. From what I heard in it (after the second "read"), I now know that I can take anything and mold it into a success.
In our era of political correctness, if that is not an extreme reaction, then nothing is.
Dare mighty things; never live in the grey twilight.
I miss Harry the second I finish the volume.
Like Lincoln, he's the one you feel attached to, and feel better after "chatting" with.
Truman - he was just himselfAcheson - what a honorable man! Reminds me of Seward.
Huge fan of Nelson Runger. Over time, after listening to his performance in other books like The Great Bridge, The Panama Canal, No Ordinary Time etc. etc, I grow fond of his riveting narrative style which really brought back the historical characters alive.
Oh, all the time! Laugh, cry. People would see me as a lunatic.
It's not how long the book is, it's how good it is. Grab one and read and listen the greatness of one of the greatest presidents the United States has.
I have edited 38 national best sellers and had a writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Over the years I had heard many people say that Truman did not have to approve dropping the atomic bombs, that the Japanese had already lost their war. I heard people speculate that Truman had given the go-ahead just to show Stalin that the US had the capabilities or that the US had put so much money and effort into the Manhattan Project, the bomb was like a runaway train, and Truman couldn't stop it. McCullough explains that the Japanese mindset was to die rather than surrender, and they would have kept fighting to the last man, woman, and child. In the book, one Japanese woman was given an awl and told to stab an enemy soldier if it came to that. Truman believed that an invasion of Japan would have cost the US a quarter of a million dead and wounded, and he was not going to allow that to happen. I believe that, and, well, now I know.
I found amazing that Truman had succeeded in very little in life and was suddenly thrust into the presidency at one of the most critical points in our history. He met with FDR only three times between his election to the vice presidency and his swearing in as president.
Reading about Stalin's disregard for Eastern European countries' sovereignty also provides a historical basis for Putin's behavior now. It's happened before, it's happening now, and it will probably happen again.
I recommend this book. McCullough and Runger are an unbeatable combination.
Just the way you get to know the man! The reader realllllly helped that happen
I am a Christian wife and mother. I write two blogs. My somewhat theological blog is called "Just Another Clay Pot," and my Fiction/Poetry blog is called "Weightiness and Whimsy."
It's hard to imagine listening to a biography of one life for 54 hours...but this particular life was so packed with amazing events lived by an amazing man, that every hour was justified.
Okay, I'll admit there were a few hours that began to feel a little boring to me at times, particularly about his childhood and his ancestors. But I'm glad I listened to them, because biographies are about knowing people, and people are about all of the factors that shaped them, including the mundanities. Truman never forgot who he was and where he came from, so those shaping influences were necessary to the story.
And, as I'm learning from reading other minutiae-minded authors (such as Marilynne Robinson and even Victor Hugo), the little details provide ambiance, and ambiance immerses the reader, if the reader will allow it to. The reader begins to feel as though he is walking through life with the main character, and where this may not always be exciting, it certainly deepens the understanding and even affection that is developed.
And I became very fond of Harry Truman while listening to this biography. I knew next-to-nothing about him before reading it, but now I feel a deep respect and appreciation for him. Though we disagree on some fundamentals, I can now at least appreciate his positions. And though I can see some of his mistakes, I can respect that they were well-intended mistakes. He was, in short, a good man. And a good man is always worth getting to know. Frankly, that's one important way that this book helped me grow as a person. It showed me how much it's possible to respect someone with whom I disagree on major political issues. And that's a huge gift, because respect is a major antidote to...well...being a knee-jerk JERK. I hope to be less of a knee-jerker with people on the other side of the political spectrum, more interested in getting to know them as people rather than as political labels.
But mistakes and disagreements aside, this man did a phenomenal job in two terms which threw more staggering challenges at him than any previous president had ever faced. Few men could have stood up under the assault. I defy his critics to have done better.
As for the narrator, he was excellent. It must be a challenge to make a 54-hour biography enjoyable to listen to, but he certainly did it.
Somewhere past halfway through the book, something changed in the studio, because the mic picked up a lot of mouth noises from there until the end of the book. But that should reflect on the technicians, not on the narrator himself. And it should certainly not discourage anyone from taking this very worthwhile walk through the life of Harry Truman.
I loved hearing the story of Truman narrated and know it was far superior to my reading it. The narrator sounded just as I imagine Mr. Truman did.
I loved the real life adventures of President Truman. I really had not grasped in high school history class the breadth of decisions he confronted as President.
I loved how down to earth President Truman was and I laughed at the way he talked to people, the way he campaigned from his train, and the dear way he courted Bess.
I really did not want it to end and now wonder how I can chose a book that will entertain me as much.
I learned a great deal I did not know about Truman.
David McCullogh tells the American story better than anyone else I have read. He lays Harry Truman bare and lets the reader decide what to think.
Imperturbable great leader
His personal handling of his second campaign for the presidency. The whole world was against him and yet he believed in himself. Further he was cool, collected and in control of his emotions. His behavior was admirable and consistent.
I enjoyed his initial experience as a Company Commander. Beautifully written to capture the essence of the experience.
His understanding of the devastation the A-bomb would cause. He understood the gravity of his ability to annihilate life with the power of one decision.
Kudos David McCullough! This was a book every America should read.
this is a great story of a great individual. I got to know much more about Truman that i had heard before. Very informative and very well written and narrated.
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