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Publisher's Summary

The dramatic, pulse-pounding story of Harry Truman's first four months in office, when this unlikely president had to take on Germany, Japan, Stalin, and the atomic bomb, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.

Heroes are often defined as ordinary characters who get thrust into extraordinary circumstances and, through courage and a dash of luck, cement their places in history. Chosen as FDR's fourth-term vice president for his well-praised work ethic, good judgment, and lack of enemies, Harry S. Truman - a Midwesterner who had no college degree and had never had the money to buy his own home - was the prototypical ordinary man. That is, until he was shockingly thrust in over his head after FDR's sudden death.

During the climactic months of the Second World War, Truman had to play judge and jury, pulling America to the forefront of the global stage. The first four months of Truman's administration saw the founding of the United Nations, the fall of Berlin, victory at Okinawa, firebombings of Tokyo, the first atomic explosion, the Nazi surrender, the liberation of concentration camps, the mass starvation of Europe, the Potsdam Conference, the controversial decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the surrender of Imperial Japan, and, finally, the end of World War II and the rise of the Cold War. No other president had ever faced so much in such a short period of time.

Tightly focused, meticulously researched, rendered with vivid detail and narrative verve, The Accidental President escorts listeners into the situation room with Truman during this tumultuous, history-making 120 days, when the stakes were high and the challenge even higher. The result is narrative history of the highest order and a compelling look at a presidency with great relevance to our times.

©2017 Albert Baime (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 11-14-17

Exceptional

I have read many biographies about Harry S. Truman (1884-1972). In this book A. J. Baime narrows the scope of the book to the first four months of the presidency. The author does provide some early history of Truman so the reader understands how events came about.

On April 12, 1945, Eleanor Roosevelt summoned Truman to the White House to inform him of the death of FDR. Truman said his worst nightmare immediately became a reality. He had only been Vice President for three months and had not been informed about anything by FDR. It would have been extremely difficult for anyone to follow in the footsteps of the charismatic Roosevelt. Truman was honest, decisive and hardworking. Some of the problems he faced that Baime goes into in depth are:
1. The war with Germany
2. The war with Japan
3. Learned about the Manhattan project. Had to decide about using the bomb on Japan.
4. The founding of the United Nations
5. The devastation of Europe and the starving refugees. He sent President Hoover to Europe to deal with the logistics of feeding the people. He and General Marshall developed the Marshall Plan to deal with Europe.
6. Russia posed challenges and different goals. Stalin failed to honor any of his agreements he made with Churchill and Roosevelt about Eastern Europe. Russia developed the atomic bomb and the cold war began.

The book is well-written and meticulously researched. Baime is a journalist and the book is written in that style. Baime detailed a chronology as to how Truman transformed into a president and leader of the world. Baime makes history come alive and makes an enjoyable read. The book is well organized. Truman faced many difficult situations over his presidency that had great effect upon the world and the United States. In fact, Baime claims no other president in the history of the United States has faced such difficulties at the beginning of their presidency.

Tony Messano does a good job narrating the book. Messano is a voice-over artist and audiobook narrator. This is my first experience with listening to Messano.

34 of 35 people found this review helpful

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Excellent introduction to the Truman presidency

This is not a comprehensive biography of Harry Truman or his presidency (and the author says so in the book) but it does a nice job of explaining how a farmer from Missouri became president during one of the most difficult times in US history. A.J. Baime presents the facts of events as found in official documents and personal journals and manages to do so in an entertaining storytelling manner. It provides a primer on Harry Truman's life before becoming president and focuses on the events of the first 4 months of his presidency which also saw the official end of WWII and the unofficial beginning of the Cold War. This is an excellent listen for anyone interested in any of these topics.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • John
  • Chamblee, GA, United States
  • 04-20-18

Great Book About an Interesting Man

I'm a fan of A.J. Baime. He writes well-researched and interesting books.

Harry Truman's life story is well-known: A somewhat obscure Senator who was drafted as Roosevelt's Vice President for an unprecedented fourth term. Truman didn't want to be Vice President. But he was as shocked as the rest of the Nation when Roosevelt died only a couple of months into the fourth term.

Baime does not try to write a comprehensive account of Truman's life. Rather, the book offers an almost hour by hour account of the first four months of Truman's presidency in which many truly momentous events that would shape the world occurred, from victory over Germany to Hiroshima (Truman did not even know about the atomic bomb until after he was president).

Truman was thrust into these circumstances largely unprepared, because Roosevelt made almost no effort to educate Truman or to draw Truman into his inner circle. My guess is that Roosevelt--who surely must have had a monumental ego--simply never contemplated the possibility of his own demise very seriously.

Truman did better than most would have expected. One emerges from the book with a heightened respect for Truman, and a somewhat diminished view of Roosevelt. That is not due to any effort on Baime's part--he simply lays out very cogently what happened.

One thing that I really like about this book is how it moves. Baime does not dawdle nor does he make needless digressions. It is a very straight-forward book about a very straight-forward man.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Great story once he gets to it

Once Baime gets to Roosevelt's death the pace of the book picks up. These four months to the end of WWII are presented in a well written and enjoyable style. It really is a time like no other ever faced by a president

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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It really delivers on its title.

Very well done narrative of the first four months of the Truman presidency, with interesting biographical material on Truman's life prior to his inauguration. Having grown up in the Kansas City suburbs, I was always aware of Truman's connection to our area, but that was in the days before it was necessary to provide a buffer between ex-presidents and the public. Consequently, Truman was much more available to us than are today's super-important politicians. After leaving office, he drove his own car around KC, and we are told here that he had previously loved to drive. This book makes it clear that Truman did not consider himself "super-important," but he did recognize the importance of the job he had to do. His is an inspiring story in an understated way. There is even some interesting information about his time as an older-than-most artillery captain in WWI, that seems appropriately to develop his character.

Not that the story is all laudatory. It reveals some of Truman's shortcomings as well, and explains how a Senator who had been so closely connected to the Pendergast political machine could have risen above it to be selected to be the final VP for FDR. (It also reveals a few of FDR's shortcomings. Did you know he seldom if ever read his classified briefing documents? Truman read them all.) I had not heard of the "Truman Committee," and that solved part of the mystery surrounding his election. What remains a mystery is why FDR did not see the need to bring Truman into even his outer circle, and at least inform him about the atomic bomb and the Manhattan Project. The side-story about the management, development, and logistics of that Project (which ties into the Truman Committee) is fascinating.

A surprising take-away for me was that Bess Truman is portrayed as a rather unlikeable character, perhaps completely overwhelmed by even the thought of being "first lady," whose first inclination was to answer "no" to any suggestion that she make any kind of public appearance. Perhaps it was her reaction to following Eleanor Roosevelt, who was 180 degrees out of sync with the behavior. The fact that Harry was not just in love with, but was apparently infatuated by, Bess may tell us something about him, or at least about the times in which they grew up.

There are humorous bits as well, one of which, involving the menu preferences and culinary capabilities of the "head cook" (or perhaps head of kitchen staff) inherited from the Roosevelts, illustrates the huge change that's taken place in the size and management of the White House and its staff.

I gave an extra star to the narrator. I thought he was perfect for the book, and very easy to listen to.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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incredible person incredible time

I enjoyed going back and learning about our history the events that transpired to perform our current situation

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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a great read

well written and easy to follow the historical events in which HST was president.. I recommend.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great story about an ordinary man

Great story that all of America needs to remember, from a failed businessman to the White House President Truman was an everyday man who did extraordinary things to help the USA!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A must read (dare I say this?)

The Accidental President by A. J. Baime is an amazing (Audible) book which picks up Truman's life just prior to his becoming VP, with enough background to understand his beginnings. I've read other books on Truman and found this one without a lot of blather.

This book is comforting in its political in-fighting and shenanigans, "fake news" in major media outlets, though they called it something else. Truman's handling of international politics though scoffed at by those known as Swamp People as of late is nothing short of amazing. Message to me -- things aren't as bad as we sometimes think they may be -- just more available via internet and all that goes with it. Same Stuff Different Day SSDD.

Interesting trivia: The Buck Stops Here is said by this author to have been a gift desk plaque from a close friend.

PS -- Great narration as well!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Wow, talk about playing catch-up

What an impactful time in history. I was stuck by the isolation Truman had from FDR.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • G. A. Thart
  • 07-19-18

Interesting introduction

It gives a summary introduction to Truman. Not much news. Voice is excellent. Good introduction