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Truman

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Truman Cover

 

 

Reading Group Guide

Truman

Reader's Group Guide

1. Harry S. Truman was born on May 8, 1884. Nearly twenty years prior, Anderson Truman freed his five slaves, Hannah, Marge, and their three daughters in Leavenworth, Kansas. Later on, a keeper of the family would conclude that the Truman's never owned slaves. Since owning slaves was a relatively accepted practice in the Confederacy, why would someone think to rewrite history? How would you describe the turning point in the American social consciousness over slavery? Why do you think it took so long for someone to stand up to Jim Crow, even after the senseless killing of nine African-Americans? How does history influence what lives are valuable within the consciousness of a society? What other factors are at play?

2. Truman's boyhood was shaped by deeply instilled values. Often eager to please and a "bookworm" Truman was the perfect child. Even at such an early age, Truman displayed a love for politics. What values did Truman hold that would later make him an outstanding politician? A significant part of Truman's moral character was reinforced by his education. Do you think that a similar education should be taught in today's public schools? If so, how?

3. Truman was a farmer, even though farmers were discouraged to fight, he felt it was his duty to serve in the war in Europe. The president at the time, Woodrow Wilson said, "upon the farmers rested the fate of the country and thus the fate of the world." Why were farmers so highly regarded at the time? What professions or occupations are held in the same regard today? What professions or occupations should be the last to fight a war? Explain.

4. In Captain Truman's first confrontation with the Germans he proved brave and stood his ground when many retreated. Despite the inexperience of his infantry, not a single soldier was killed in the melee. In your opinion, what were the critical points in Truman's life that led him to becoming a great leader? What led him toward an interest in artillery and a fascination for power?

5. December 1933 marked the end of prohibition. Having been repeatedly passed over for a position in Congress, Truman became a bit disgruntled with politics. What is the correlation between the end of prohibition and the political climate of the time? Why do you think Truman was consistently overlooked in the political arena?

6. How would you describe Truman's reluctance to run for Vice President with President Franklin Roosevelt? What factors made Truman the prime Vice Presidential candidate for the election? Compare and contrast Roosevelt and Truman, what made them the ideal pair?

7. After the election in 1944, Truman has very little contact with President Roosevelt. In fact, when Roosevelt was meeting with Churchill and Stalin for his second Big Three Conference, Truman was attending parties and receptions. Do you think Truman was intentionally left out of the loop of the strategy overseas? Considering Roosevelt's health at the time why do you think Truman was not briefed on international affairs?

8. On April 12, 1945 Roosevelt dies of a cerebral hemorrhage. In the events immediately following his presidential oath, there seems to be a lot of uncertainty about whether he can handle the job. What other events leading up to this moment give you the impression that he lacks a confidence in himself that is required of a president?

9. What were the strongest factors contributing to Truman's victory in the election of 1948? Compare and contrast Truman and Dewey's campaign strategy.

10. When the steel industry was brought to a standstill due to labor strikes, Truman decides to take government control of the industry. A sincere advocate for labor unions, why did he feel that was the best decision? Why did his decision cause a devastating blow in Truman's popular opinion?

11. In your opinion, what were the greatest highlights of Truman's presidency? What progress did he make in settling The Cold War? What deeply held values carried him through seven years and nine months in office?

12. Senator Adlai E. Stevenson III of Illinois remarked that Truman's life was "an example of the ability of this society to yield up, from the most unremarkable origins, the most remarkable men." What do you have to learn from Truman's life? Did Truman epitomize the American dream? Explain.

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

janel, January 26, 2011 (view all comments by janel)
Truman is my favorite book of the year. As soon as I picked the book up, I couldn't put it down. Mr. McCullough writes an entertaining, enlightening,real book about President Truman. It reads better than an fictional novel I've read.
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CAJIC, January 2, 2010 (view all comments by CAJIC)
I find this to be a very good book depicting the difficulties associated with Harry Truman taking over the presidency during the most challenging of times. With Franklin Roosevelt passing away in the midst of WW II, having to make a decision about dropping the bombs on Japan, and beinc the president of the USA with minimal political experience, Truman came through. He demonstrated great courage and made decisions during a very difficult time. One learns a lot about Truman.
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(1 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
roy branson, July 21, 2007 (view all comments by roy branson)
I have never read a Presidential Bio before but this one has convinced me to read more. Truman was one of the last 'salt of the earth' presidents this country has enjoyed. He was a good man, a good leader, and he never waivered in his principles. David McCullough, the author, tells Truman's story in an unbiased way that helps you to see the imperfect man behind the name. I will definitely read some of the other bios by this author.
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(6 of 10 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780671869205
Author:
McCullough, David
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Location:
New York :
Subject:
Biography
Subject:
Political
Subject:
Historical - U.S.
Subject:
Government and political science
Subject:
History, theory and practice
Subject:
Presidents
Subject:
Truman, harry s., 1884-1972
Subject:
Presidents & Heads of State
Subject:
Presidents -- United States -- Biography.
Subject:
General Biography
Subject:
Truman, Harry S.
Subject:
Biography-Presidents and Heads of State
Subject:
Harry S. Truman, President Truman, Atomic Bomb, Missouri, Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Japan, Pearl Harbor, Korean War, Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bess Wallace Truman, MacArthur, George Marshall, Joe McCarthy, and Dean Acheson, Pulitzer Priz
Subject:
Harry S. Truman, President Truman, Atomic Bomb, Missouri, Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Japan, Pearl Harbor, Korean War, Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bess Wallace Truman, MacArthur, George Marshall, Joe McCarthy, and Dean Acheson, Pulitzer Priz
Subject:
Harry S. Truman, President Truman, Atomic Bomb, Missouri, Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Japan, Pearl Harbor, Korean War, Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bess Wallace Truman, MacArthur, George Marshall, Joe McCarthy, and Dean Acheson, Pulitzer Priz
Subject:
Harry S. Truman, President Truman, Atomic Bomb, Missouri, Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Japan, Pearl Harbor, Korean War, Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bess Wallace Truman, MacArthur, George Marshall, Joe McCarthy, and Dean Acheson, Pulitzer Priz
Subject:
Harry S. Truman, President Truman, Atomic Bomb, Missouri, Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Japan, Pearl Harbor, Korean War, Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bess Wallace Truman, MacArthur, George Marshall, Joe McCarthy, and Dean Acheson, Pulitzer Priz
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st Touchstone ed.
Edition Description:
B102
Series Volume:
85-7
Publication Date:
June 1993
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
3 16PP B/W PHOTO INSERTS
Pages:
1120
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.12 in 49.21 oz

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Truman Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.95 In Stock
Product details 1120 pages Simon & Schuster - English 9780671869205 Reviews:
"Review" by , "A gargantuan but surprisingly agile and spellbinding biography of the plain-speaking, plain-dealing Man from Missouri....Rich in detail, enthralling, and moving: a classic Presidential biography."
"Review" by , "The principal achievement of this biography — the most thorough account of Truman's life yet to appear — is its honest and revealing portrait of the 'ordinary' man who became an extraordinary historical figure."
"Review" by , "The book's re-creation of the 1948 presidential campaign, during which Newsweek's poll of 50 political writers predicted that the incumbent would lose the election to Thomas Dewey, is the most complete account of that surprise victory to date. The book is an impressive tribute to a man whose brisk cheerfulness and self-confidence were combined with a God-fearing humility; a great and good man who, in McCullough's opinion, was a great president."
"Review" by , "In this compelling saga of America's greatest common-man President, McCullough adds luster to an old-fashioned historical approach that is regaining respect: the sweeping narrative, filled with telling details and an appreciation of the role individuals play in shaping the world."
"Review" by , "McCullough's life of Harry Truman is a Sandburg's Lincoln for the 1990s....No biography approaches the richness, depth, or grace of this one."
"Review" by , "McCullogh is a master story teller whose considerable narrative skills have been put to exquisite use in re-creating the life and times of America's 33rd president."
"Review" by , "Remarkable....[Y]ou may open it at any point and instantly become fascinated, so easy, lucid, and energetic is the narrative and so absorbing the sequence of events."
"Review" by , "Today [Truman] is firmly enshrined in the pantheon of American heroes, beyond reproach, and, judging from David McCullough's 1,000-page valentine, suitable only for veneration and framing....[McCullough] is less interested in peeling away character than in telling a tale. He devotes a full 100 pages to the election of 1948 and even twelve pages to the redecoration of the White House. The decision to create NATO, by contrast, gets two pages....Somewhere deep beneath the surface of Truman the icon lies another, more interesting Truman the man: angry, insecure, obstinate, ambitious, resentful, short-tempered, gutsy, determined, honest, shrewd, vain, and wily. But the key to that Truman will have to be found elsewhere than in the...pages of this genteel entertainment."
"Synopsis" by , A biography of the U.S. president explores Truman's brutal frontier childhood, his education, his dogged optimism, and his rise through the ranks of the Pendergast machine that controlled Missouri politics.
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