Synopses & Reviews
On June 19, 1953, Harry Truman got up early, packed the trunk of his Chrysler New Yorker, and did something no other former president has done before or since: he hit the road. No Secret Service protection. No traveling press. Just Harry and his childhood sweetheart Bess, off to visit old friends, take in a Broadway play, celebrate their wedding anniversary in the Big Apple, and blow a bit of the money hed just received to write his memoirs. Hopefully incognito.
In this lively history, author Matthew Algeo meticulously details how Trumans plan to blend in went wonderfully awry. Fellow diners, bellhops, cabbies, squealing teenagers at a Future Homemakers of America convention, and one very by-the-book Pennsylvania state trooper all unknowingly conspired to blow his cover. Algeo revisits the Trumans route, staying at the same hotels and eating at the same diners, and takes readers on brief detours into topics such as the postwar American auto industry, McCarthyism, the nations highway system, and the decline of Main Street America. By the end of the 2,500-mile journey, you will have a new and heartfelt appreciation for Americas last citizen-president.
"Public radio reporter Algeo (Last Team Standing) brings the 1950s into focus with a fascinating reconstruction of Harry and Bess Truman's postpresidential 2,500-mile road trip. 'I like to take trips any kind of trip,' Truman wrote. 'They are about the only recreation I have besides reading.' Between 2006 and 2008, Algeo retraced their journey with stopovers at some of the same diners and hotels the couple visited. When Truman left the White House in 1953, he returned to Independence, Mo., rejecting lucrative offers he felt would 'commercialize' the presidency. His only income was a small army pension. Acquiring a 1953 Chrysler, the Trumans set out with no fanfare and a curious notion of 'traveling incognito.' However, reporters and newsreel cameras soon turned their vehicular vacation into an ongoing media event. The book benefits from extensive research through oral history interviews and papers at the Harry S. Truman Library, and Algeo's own interviews with eyewitnesses. With deliberate detours, this book is a portal into the past with layers of details providing unusual authenticity and a portrait of the president as an ordinary man. 20 b&w photos, 1 map." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
From Missouri to New York and back again, this work chronicles the amazing road trip of a former president and his wife and their amusing, failed attempts to keep a low profile.
In early 1861, as he prepared to leave his home in Springfield, Illinois, to move into the White House, Abraham Lincoln faced many momentous tasks, but none he dreaded more than telling his two youngest sons, Willie and Tad, that the family’s beloved pet dog, Fido, would not be accompanying them to Washington. Lincoln was afraid the skittish dog couldn’t endure the long rail journey, so he decided to leave the mutt behind with friends in Springfield.
Fido had been by Lincoln’s side as the prairie lawyer rose from obscurity to the presidency, sometimes carrying bundles of letters from the post office in his mouth as he and his master walked the streets of the state capital. Abe & Fido tells the story of two friends, an unlikely tandem who each became famous and died prematurely.
The book also explores the everyday life of Springfield in the years leading up to the Civil War, as well as Lincoln’s sometimes radical views on animal welfare and how they shaped his life and his presidency. It’s the story of a master and his dog, living through historic, tumultuous times.
About the Author
Matthew Algeo is a public radio reporter. His first book, Last Team Standing: How the Steelers and the Eagles—"The Steagles"—Saved Pro Football During World War II, won the 2006 Nelson Ross Award for best pro football historiography. For more information, visit www.trumanroadtrip.com.