In his eight years as president from 1945-1953, Harry S. Truman made some of the most important decisions in U.S. history, particularly in foreign policy matters. This book contains transcripts of conversations with Truman from taped interviews in 1959. The probing questions and straightforward answers cover a wide variety of domestic and foreign policy issues ranging from civil rights in the South to using the atomic bomb on Japan.
This book provides a vivid portrait of Truman, 'warts and all.' Through his answers to questions, the threads of his political loyalty, bluntness, frustration, decency, thrift, humanity, and humor become a tapestry of his presidential character. His intense pride and manner surface especially as he explains bitter political and domestic controversies, as well as foreign policy decisions. These interviews reveal Truman's bedrock foundation of deeply held political beliefs as he gives thoughtful answers to queries about major political issues. In addition, he discusses American presidential history; Congressmen such as Sam Rayburn and Lyndon Johnson; Supreme Court Justices; and dozens of other well-known political leaders, including Dwight D. Eisenhower, Adlai Stevenson, and John F. Kennedy. In similar fashion, he describes numerous foreign leaders, including Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Winston Churchill, and Chiang Kai-Shek.
Evident as well is his firm loyalty to the United States, his family, his friends, and the Democratic Party. Truman also divulges some of his personal dislikes, particularly of political opponents such as Richard M. Nixon and, for over a decade after 1952, Dwight D. Eisenhower. However, his personal resentments are more than matched by his fair-minded judgments of former President Herbert Hoover, American farmers, laborers, and racial groups.
Discovered by Ralph Weber at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library, the interviews were originally to be used as background for Truman's book, Mr. Citizen (1960), but most of Truman's observations and answers were not included in that book. Professor Weber has omitted very little of the original transcripts and has kept the conversations in the same order, revealing the ebb and flow of the questioning. He includes an introduction, annotations, brief biographies of the people Truman discusses in the interviews, and photographs to provide context for the reader. This revealing new book is an excellent addition to courses on American twentieth-century history and the presidency.