THE TRIALS OF HARRY S. TRUMAN

Jeffrey Frank takes a critical and objective look at the presidency of Harry Truman. By no means a love affair, the title, The Trials of Harry S. Truman, and subtitle, The Extraordinary Presidency of an Ordinary Man, 1945-1953, establish the tenor of the book.

Frank is quick to objectively microscope Truman proclamations and interpretations but always willing to credit the president with the most difficult decisions of his place and time. The Atomic Bomb, Potsdam, Stalin, the Marshall Plan, The Berlin Airlift, the desegregation of the U.S. Military and the Federal workforce , MacArthur, Korea, NATO, Strom Thurmond, the election of 1948. Frank condenses this broad landscape into a concisely focused 380 pages.

The author chose a direct quote from Truman’s last press conference which I think goes a long way to putting Harry S. Truman and his place in history into perspective:

It ended with the traditional ” Mr. President-thank you!” But this time it was followed by affectionate applause for this child of rural Missouri- this self educated striver, a man determined to overcome the prejudices, ethnic and religious, of that time and place-letting him know that he was, as Lippman put it, in his sentimental moment, someone who ” has the good nature of a good man.” In mid century America, it was hard to imagine a future when those qualities could be extinguished.

If you are a fan of presidential history, add THE TRIALS OF HARRY S. TRUMAN to your reading list.

A KITCHEN CABINET OF HISTORIANS FOR BARAK OBAMA!

Recalling the importance and power of President Harry Truman’s Kitchen Cabinet, brought vividly to life in  David McCulloch’s Truman, the thought occurred to me that it might not be a bad idea for President Obama to appoint his own Kitchen Cabinet to help think through some of  overwhelming issues facing the president and the nation.  There is a wellspring of talent in the world of books and historians from which might come some unique and a-political  ideas and possibly answers. 

 Here we go Mr. President with a suggested list of invitees! My guess is they would all not only come but bring some well-educated perspective.

Jonathan Alter,  The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope

Henry William BrandsThe Reckless Decade, America in the 1890s. TR The Last Romantic, Traitor to his Class. ( FDR)

Robert Caro, The Years of Lyndon Johnson

Doris Kerns Goodwin, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

David McCullough, Truman, John Adams

Edmund Morris,  The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Rex, Colonel Roosevelt, Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan

Gordon Wood,The Creation of the American Republic and Empire of Liberty

The body of work by the authors of these works of history is a national resource!  They could very well be the best  and most productive “committee ” in Washington , DC. Go for it Mr. President. You will be in great company!

I Would enjoy hearing  suggestions from my blog readers for the Great Historian Kitchen Cabinet at the White House!