In this powerful, epic biography, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough unfolds the adventurous life-journey of John Adams....
Winner of the 1982 National Book Award for Biography, Mornings on Horseback is the brilliant biography of the young Theodore Roosevelt....
Here is the story of the men and women who fought against all odds to fulfill the 400-year-old dream of constructing an aquatic passageway between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans....
This monumental book tells the enthralling story of one of the greatest accomplishments in our nation's history, the building of what was then the longest suspension bridge in the world.....
One of today's premier biographers has written a modern, comprehensive, indeed ultimate book on the life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This is a portrait painted in broad strokes and fine details....
No Ordinary Time describes how the isolationist and divided United States of 1940 was unified under the extraordinary leadership of Franklin Roosevelt....
From Alexander von Humboldt to Charles and Anne Lindbergh, these are stories of people of great vision and daring whose achievements continue to inspire us today....
Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Chernow returns with a sweeping and dramatic portrait of one of our most compelling generals and presidents, Ulysses S. Grant....
Two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize David McCullough tells the dramatic story behind the story about the courageous brothers who taught the world how to fly....
In this stirring audiobook, David McCullough tells the intensely human story of those who marched with General George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence....
At the end of the last century, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, was a booming coal-and-steel town filled with hardworking families striving for a piece of the nation's burgeoning industrial prosperity....
A timely collection of speeches by David McCullough, the most honored historian in the United States, that reminds us of fundamental American principles....
In this magnificent biography, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Lion and Franklin and Winston brings vividly to life an extraordinary man and his remarkable times....
On May 15, 2003, David McCullough presented "The Course of Human Events" as The 2003 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities in Washington, DC....
Goodwin describes the broken friendship between Teddy Roosevelt and his chosen successor, William Howard Taft....
From National Book Award winner Ron Chernow, a landmark biography of George Washington....
Ron Chernow now brings to startling life the man who was arguably the most important figure in American history....
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.
I confess that I grew up during a time where the mention of Truman either caused eye rolling sneers or tight lipped stoney looks. I have always heard the FDR story from Roosevelt's perspective...with Eleanor treating Truman as an imbecile in need of serious help. It was fascinating to hear the same events from Truman's perspective. Rather than being a "complete dope" I found Truman to be hard working, honest and honorable. A solid public servant--upbeat and positive even when things didn't go well or the way he hoped they would.
The best part of this 54+hour listen was that while telling Truman's life story McCullough also told the story of pioneer America. Tracing Truman's ancestors and early life highlighted the settlement of the "frontier". This artfully painted a picture of how totally different our lives have become compared to a hundred plus years ago. The stories of early Missouri and the violent turbulence of Kansas before statehood were engaging. The book is filled with sweeping tales of life in an America long gone.
I loved Runger's narration for the book John Adams. His narration of Truman started out a bit rough. It took one section (about 8 hours) before he hit his stride and warmed to the story he was telling. After that the reading was good.
In the end--Harry Truman proved to be anything but "That Mousy Little Man From Missouri". Recommended if you are interested in American history and love a good biography. I really enjoyed it.
49 of 49 people found this review helpful
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.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
My husband has the hard copy of this book -- 949 pages! I was a bit concerned about the length, but despite some unnecessary detail in part one, the book is fascinating. You really feel that you know where this man comes from as the narration unfolds.
I shared the common misconception of Truman's being a dull nebbish. Far from it, like Lincoln, he was a fascinating combination of dirt farmer and intellectual, with a ramrod sense of right and wrong -- a basically decent person. He was not charismatic, but honed his political skills in the machine politics of Missouri before winning his seat in the US senate. He also loved classical music and opera and had considered a career as concert pianist, he played so well. He lived in a fascinating era... succeeding FDR as the second world war wound down, and making some very big decisions such as dropping the atom bomb and our participation in the Korean war.
It's easy to regret these decisions in hindsight. McCullough is mostly non-judgemental, successfully recreating the concerns and zeitgeist of the era, and painting a portrait of a guy of very modest beginnings who rose to meet the challenges of his offices and era. The author does an excellent job, covering Potsdam, McCarthyism, General MacArthur's fall, and the isolationism and demagoguery of the Republican party among many other events.
I'm afraid Nelson Runger is not my favorite narrator. His style is slightly pompous and a bit labored. Ironically, this tone sounds like forties and fifties radio and TV voices, so maybe it's just right. To his credit, he does not mis-pronounce words like so many younger narrators. But the book is well worth a listen and is a great introduction to that era.
40 of 46 people found this review helpful
I listened to the unabridged audiobook, that means more than 54 hours, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Little content could have been removed. The narration by Nelson Runger was wonderful. I have complained about his slurping before, but the producers have removed the slurps. His steady clear pace perfectly matches the informative text. His intonation for Truman, was perfect, both the strength of his speeches in the presidency and his reflections, to-the-point remarks and sarcastic jokes of the elderly man. Our voice does change with age, and Runger has mastered this. (Some voices were, however, in my opinion, too low and ponderous.) At the end, and this is a book that covers all aspects of Truman’s life, from birth to death, i.e. 1884-1972, there were tears in my eyes. This is a book about a man dedicated to fighting for his beliefs, but he was a politician at heart. Keep in mind that I tend to instinctively distrust politicians. It is rather remarkable that I so loved this book. I will try to never again shy away from a book about politicians……well, at least such books written by John McCullough.
Why did I love this book? You learn about American life and values as they were when America was still a land of pioneers to what it had become by the middle of the 20th Century. What the political parties stood for has changed dramatically with time. On completion of this book you have a thorough understanding of the American party system. You travel from an agrarian Midwest value mindset through WW1, the Depression, the New Deal, WW2, the emergence of atomic weapons, the birth of the UN and NATO, the Berlin blockade and successful airlift, the Cold War and McCarthyism, the focus on civil rights, the Korean War all the way up to Kennedy’s presidency. You follow this time-period through the life of a man living through its events, and a man who as president shaped many of these events. McCullough gives you a thorough understanding of all these events and a thorough understanding of the man Truman.
It is an honest book that never shies away from the mistakes made. I wasn’t thrilled with Truman’s friendship and dependence upon Pendergast. I felt that Truman’s relationship with his wife was at first not adequately clarified. By the end I understood Truman, all of him. I believe I comprehend both his familial relationships and the value he put on friendships, which explain his relationship with Pendergast . You see both the good and the bad. I very much admire the strength and forthrightness of Truman who was at heart a marvelous politician. Yes, definitely a politician who fought for his party and made mistakes, but dam he tried his best. Always. He never shirked his responsibilities. He never ran away from a problem, but faced them head on. He was not infallible. I still don’t understand why they never had more children……
I was born in 1951. I understand now what my parents lived through and why they were who they were. I understand now what lead up to the world I was born into. I totally loved this book.
14 of 16 people found this review helpful
I have been listening to books I read a long time ago enjoyed this one greatly. If only we had a president like him.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
When I first purchased this I didn't realize or remember perhaps that it's a 54 hour listen. I continued to avoid it because of its length, and focused on other items. Finally, I began what I thought would be an ordeal, but instead turned out to be an incredibly rich delight.
McCullough's biography is very thorough and begins with Truman's forebears arriving in Missouri decades before, describing their attitudes and beliefs and those became part of the Truman as president we read & hear about. The scope of the book is all of Truman's life, not just his presidency; from his days running the family farm, artillery officer in WW1, haberdasher, judge, senator, vice-president and president, and his post-presidency.
I guess if you think about it, Truman really was one of the greatest leaders the United States has had. He became president during an extraordinarily tumultuous time in world history - the final chapters of WWII, the use of the atomic bomb, the beginning of the cold war and the UN/US action in Korea. But he was just an ordinary man and he knew it - McCullough captured this vividly in any number of passages, and Nelson Runger, the narrator, does a great job with the material.
In truth, though I dreaded started this 54 hour book, I was actually sad it was over. I wish we had more politicians like Harry Truman. Thank you David McCullough.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful
I loved listening to this book. Being in my mid 50's I always heard from my parents what a dope Truman was. WRONG! Truman was actually a pretty good President and as honest as they come. The USA was lucky to have him. Fantastic narration as well and the story flows as only McCullough can do. A+++ IMHO
13 of 17 people found this review helpful
David Mccullough is an American treasure. His comprehensive history of the life, work and legacy of our 33rd president is unparalleled. I will add that Nelson Runger brings the characters to life with his brilliant narration.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
President Truman may be some sort of American archetype -- the uneducated man becoming a successful President. Yet, Truman had a lot of qualities which made him the man he was. He seems very much the keen observer and a quick learner. And, he did not disdain learning. He very much loved learning and hired good, smart men to work for him. The author emphasizes Truman's respect for the Presidency as something much bigger than he was, and more important. Asking the question of how his decision might impact a future President is a very important question to bear in mind. His connection to corruption and machine politicians, while regrettable, also is how he got where he was. You see other politicians of the time and so many were of the same cast. Yet, that didn't limit who he could be. I don't see him in the mold of either the naive, idealist Jefferson Smith nor the corrupted Sen Paine, from Mr Smith Goes to Washington. Truman comes off, instead, as realistic, pragmatic, and dedicated to principle most of the time. It was when he went off the rails to defend a friend who didn't deserve it, or took some other action, that you feel bad for the man. You see all that he was capable of, and all that he did, and regret the poor choices he sometimes made. His stand for Civil Rights, while not based on any particularly enlightened racial views, were still dramatic, and being the first to challenge the Dixiecrats, and win, allowed for the work of JFK and Johnson on Civil Rights. Wish I had met him.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
This is probably the best biography of Truman out there. In it you not only learn about Truman's presidency but other events going on during his lifetime. My only complaint is that I would have liked it to have covered a little more of Truman's life before the presidency. Overall, it is very informative and well written.
6 of 9 people found this review helpful
This is a very long and detailed account of Harry S Trueman. It is a very good story, did not get bored. The audio book is good to listen to, the narration is excellent, yes it is 54 hours but well worth it.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Full marks for this offering. Truman comes out very well in the telling of this full yet colourful biography. But it doesn't come across as in any way one sided.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I downloaded this audiobook some time ago but was a little daunted by its length. To any reader of this review, don't worry, its a long biography that rarely flags. The author has paced the book really well and the reader has done a fine job in keeping that pace going.
Truman was the President in the year I was born, but is relatively unknown today. He came to power at a crucial and dangerous time in world history with very little preparation for the job. He passed the test with a mixture of intelligence, awareness, diplomatic skill and good old common sense. Some of the issues he was faced with: the Rise of Soviet Russia, the Nuclear Bomb, Korea, the devastation of Western Europe, China, the Berlin Airlift, Industrial unrest, the appalling McCarthy witch-hunts, McArthur, any one of the decisions he had to wrestle with would have left most politicians reeling. Looking at the current incumbent of the office Truman held with such dignity, one can only give thanks that the Wheel of Fortune placed the little man from Independence, Missouri in charge. It could have been so much worse!
McCullough was clearly a great fan, but the book rarely slips into hagiograpghy. Most importantly it performs the primary function of a biography, it tells the story of a man's life in linear style, and leaves you with a greater knowledge of the man and his times.
A brilliant listen, strongly recommended
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
Truman's Presidency was a period of American history I was unfamiliar with - the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, the Korean war - and McCullough's biography does full justice to the man, and the moments of a great president. Born a decade away from the Frontier, and dying in the atomic age in which he had had to make a momentous decision, Truman's life spanned an era. This biography is well paced, lively, informative, unsparing when it comes to Truman's perceived failings, generous in its appreciation of his skills and strengths as a human being.
What did you like best about this story?
Nelson Runger's narration is superb. His pace and vitality informs the book, and I appreciated the way that different players - Dean Acheson, Marshall, Roosevelt were given due weight. He didn't succumb (too much) to hamming up Churchill.
Any additional comments?
In short, highly recommended.
Interesting background provided in part one of the book. Great story telling and captivating narration by Nelson Runger.
Would you listen to Truman again? Why?
Yes, because there was so much to listen to I think I probably missed quite a bit. I was quite amazed at the way American politics works, so different to ours in Australia under the English system. It opened my eyes quite a lot. I honestly felt very sorry for Mr. Truman; he was not treated with respect when he became Vice President. He hadn't wanted to be Vice President, he had a horror of becoming the President through the President passing away (he was very sick) and sure enough - his nightmare came true. How could they not have kept him in the loop about the Atomic bomb development when they knew Roosevelt was extremely ill?
Any additional comments?
I think this President is the least understood but I believe him to be the most honest. The way he was treated by Roosevelt and the minions surrounding him borders on disgusting. When you think about it the Vice President should know everything the President knows, it's only a split second between being the Vice President and becoming the President if there's an accident or an assassination. This was a fascinating look at the life of a man who became the leader of the free world in its worst hours through accident, and had to make the hardest decision any man had ever had to make - do we drop the bomb or do we continue to fight? He then went on to be elected in his own right and become much loved by the American people. I loved this book.