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The Best Books To Learn About President Harry S. Truman

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(You can view the rest of our presidential Best Book lists by going to our Best US President Books page, or for a more in-depth look at how we found and ranked the books you can visit our Best Book About Every United States President article.)

 

Harry S. Truman Quick Facts

President Number33
Terms In Office1 & 47/48ths
Years1945-1953
Political PartyDemocratic
Vice PresidentVacant / Alben W. Barkley
Home StateMissouri
Presidential Pet Cocker Spaniel (Feller) & Irish Setter (Mike)
Campaign Slogan“I’m just wild about Harry” & “Pour it on ’em, Harry!”
Articles Used in Ranking13
Number of Unique Books22

 



The Best Book About Harry S. Truman
(Appears on 7 Lists)



Truman by David McCullough

Truman by David McCullough
Lists It Appears On:

  • At Times Dull
  • Best Presidential Bios
  • Library of Congress
  • Mandi Lindner
  • Mashable
  • Presidents USA
  • The Washington Post

The life of Harry S. Truman is one of the greatest of American stories, filled with vivid characters—Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bess Wallace Truman, George Marshall, Joe McCarthy, and Dean Acheson—and dramatic events. In this riveting biography, acclaimed historian David McCullough not only captures the man—a more complex, informed, and determined man than ever before imagined—but also the turbulent times in which he rose, boldly, to meet unprecedented challenges. The last president to serve as a living link between the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries, Truman’s story spans the raw world of the Missouri frontier, World War I, the powerful Pendergast machine of Kansas City, the legendary Whistle-Stop Campaign of 1948, and the decisions to drop the atomic bomb, confront Stalin at Potsdam, send troops to Korea, and fire General MacArthur. Drawing on newly discovered archival material and extensive interviews with Truman’s own family, friends, and Washington colleagues, McCullough tells the deeply moving story of the seemingly ordinary “man from Missouri” who was perhaps the most courageous president in our history.

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#2-3
(Appear on 4 Lists)



Harry S. Truman: A Life by Robert H. Ferrell

Harry S. Truman- A Life (Missouri Biography) by Robert H. Ferrell
Lists It Appears On:

  • Best Presidential Bios
  • Library of Congress
  • Signature
  • The Tailored Man

Few US presidents have captured the imagination of the American people as has Harry S. Truman, “the man from Missouri”. In this biography, Ferrell challenges the popular characterisation of Truman as a modest man who rarely sought the offices he received, revealing instead a quick-witted politician whose skill and honest commitment to service paved the road to the nation’s highest office. Truman was ambitious in the best sense of the word. His powerful commitment to service was accompanied by a remarkable shrewdness and an exceptional ability to judge people. He regarded himself as a consummate politician, a designation of which he was proud. While in Washington, he never succumbed to the “Potomac fever” that swelled the heads of so many in that city. A generally honest man, Truman exhibited only one lapse when, at the beginning of 1941, he padded his Senate payroll by adding his wife and later his sister. From his early years on the family farm through his pivotal decision to use the atomic bomb in World War II, Truman’s life was filled with fascinating episodes. Ferrell’s research offers new perspectives on many key eposides in Truman’s career, including his first Senate term and the circumstances surrounding the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan. In addition, Ferrell taps many little-known sources to relate the story of the machinations by which Truman gained the vice presidential nomination in 1944, a position which put him a heartbeat away from the presidency.

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Harry S. Truman by Robert Dallek

Harry S. Truman (The American Presidents #33) by Robert Dallek, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. (Editor), Sean Wilentz (Editor)
Lists It Appears On:

  • All The Presidents Books
  • Best Presidential Bios
  • Library of Congress
  • The Washington Post

In April 1945, after the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the presidency fell to a former haberdasher and clubhouse politician from Independence, Missouri. Many believed he would be overmatched by the job, but Harry S. Truman would surprise them all.

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#4
(Appears on 3 Lists)



Man of the People: A Life of Harry S. Truman by Alonzo Hamby

Man of the People- A Life of Harry S. Truman by Alonzo L. Hamby
Lists It Appears On:

  • Best Presidential Bios
  • Library of Congress
  • Presidents USA

Harry S. Truman is remembered today as an icon–the plain-speaking president, “Give ’em Hell Harry,” the chief executive who put “The Buck Stops Here” on his desk. But Alonzo L. Hamby shows that there was more to Truman than the pugnacious fighter so prominent in popular memory. Insecure, ambitious, a man of honor, a partisan loyalist, an agrarian Jeffersonian Democrat who became a champion of big government, Truman was a complex figure who fought long and hard to triumph over his own weaknesses.

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#5-7
(Appear on 2 Lists)



Conflict and Crisis: The Presidency of Harry S Truman, 1945-1948 by Robert J. Donovan

Conflict and Crisis- The Presidency of Harry S. Truman 1945-1948 by Robert John Donovan
Lists It Appears On:

  • Library of Congress
  • Presidents USA

Robert J. Donovan’s Conflict and Interest presents a detailed account of Harry S. Truman’s presidency from 1945-1948.

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The Hidden White House: Harry Truman and the Reconstruction of America’s Most Famous Residence by Robert Klara

The Hidden White House- Harry Truman and the Reconstruction of America’s Most Famous Residence by Robert Klara
Lists It Appears On:

  • Presidential History
  • Presidents USA

In 1948, President Harry Truman, enjoying a bath on the White House’s second floor, almost plunged through the ceiling of the Blue Room into a tea party for the Daughters of the American Revolution. A handpicked team of the country’s top architects conducted a secret inspection of the troubled mansion and, after discovering it was in imminent danger of collapse, insisted that the First Family be evicted immediately. What followed would be the most historically significant and politically complex home-improvement job in American history. While the Trumans camped across the street at Blair House, Congress debated whether to bulldoze the White House completely, and the Soviets exploded their first atomic bomb, starting the Cold War.

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The Presidency of Harry S Truman by Donald R. McCoy

The Presidency of Harry S. Truman (American Presidency Series) by Donald R. McCoy
Lists It Appears On:

  • Library of Congress
  • Presidents USA

It is not too much to suggest that the Truman administration, along with that of FDR, constituted the most important turning point in recent U.S. history. During the Roosevelt administration the American state system had changed dramatically: the federal government had rapidly become ascendant over state and local governments, and the executive branch—particularly the presidency—had become a repository of vast power. After 1945, it remained for Truman to make the new American state system a permanent feature at home and to define its role on the world scene.

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#8-22
(Appear on 1 List)



1948: Harry Truman’s Improbable Victory and the Year that Transformed America by David Pietrusza

1948- Harry Truman's Improbable Victory and the Year that Transformed America by David Pietrusza
Lists It Appears On:

    • Presidents USA

Indelibly, we recall the iconic newsphoto: jubilant underdog Harry Truman brandishing his copy of the Chicago Tribune proclaiming “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN.” But far, far more exists to 1948’s election that a single inglorious headline and a stunning upset victory. Award-winning author David Pietrusza goes beyond the headlines to reveal backstage events and to place in context a down-to-the-wire donnybrook fought against the background of an erupting Cold War, the Berlin Airlift, and the birth of Israel, a post-war America facing exploding storms over civil rights, and domestic communism.

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American Gunfight by Stephen Hunter and John Bainbridge

American Gunfight by Stephen Hunter
Lists It Appears On:

    • Signature

November 1, 1950 — an unseasonably hot afternoon in sleepy Washington, D.C. At 2:00 P.M. at his temporary residence in Blair House, President Harry Truman takes a nap. At 2:20 P.M., two Puerto Rican natives approach from different directions. Oscar Collazo, a respected metal polisher and family man, and Griselio Torresola, an unemployed salesman, don’t look dangerous, not in their new suits and hats, not in their calm, purposeful demeanor, not in their slow, unexcited approach. What the three White House policemen and one Secret Service agent guarding the president cannot guess is that under each man’s coat is a 9mm German automatic pistol and in each head, a dream of assassin’s glory.

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Citizen Soldier: A Life of Harry S. Truman by Aida Donald

Citizen Soldier- A Life of Harry S. Truman by Aida Donald
Lists It Appears On:

    • Presidents USA

When Harry S. Truman left the White House in 1953, his reputation was in ruins. Tarred by corruption scandals and his controversial decision to drop nuclear bombs on Japan, he ended his second term with an abysmal approval rating, his presidency widely considered a failure. But this dim view of Truman ignores his crucial role in the 20th century and his enduring legacy, as celebrated historian Aida D. Donald explains in this incisive biography of the 33rd president.

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Harry S Truman by Margaret Truman

Harry S. Truman by Margaret Truman
Lists It Appears On:

    • Library of Congress

The definitive biography of one of the most enduring political figures of the 20th century. Margaret Truman writes with unequaled insight and understanding about her father’s extraordinary life and offers rare glimpses at the personalities and politics behind the world events of his time. A New York Times bestseller.

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Harry S. Truman and the War Scare of 1948: A Successful Campaign to Deceive the Nation by Frank Kofsky

Harry S. Truman and the War Scare of 1948- A Successful Campaign to Deceive the Nation by Frank Kofsky, Harry Truman
Lists It Appears On:

    • Presidents USA

Harry S. Truman and the War Scare of 1948 reveals how during the first half of 1948, Truman and the two most important members of his cabinet, Marshall and Forrestal, systematically deceived Congress and the public into thinking that the U.S.S.R. was about to launch World War III with an invasion of Western Europe. As Professor Kofsky demonstrates, however, virtually every intelligence report coming into Washington – from military and civilian sources alike – asserted the exact opposite: that the Soviets were far too exhausted from battling the Nazis even to think about undertaking such an attack. By making use of previously classified records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Kofsky shows that Truman and his associates were willing to lie to the country in order to push through their foreign policy program, inaugurate a huge military buildup, and bail out the near-bankrupt aircraft industry. The lack of scruple with which high-ranking members of the Truman administration misrepresented Soviet intentions and the profoundly damaging repercussions of Truman’s duplicity are just two of the many important subjects that Kofsky treats in this disturbing and engrossing book. It will force us to see both the Cold War and Truman in a new light.

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Harry Truman and the Struggle for Racial Justice by Robert Shogan

Harry Truman and the Struggle for Racial Justice by Robert Shogan
Lists It Appears On:

    • Presidents USA

When Harry Truman was rescued from political obscurity to become Franklin Roosevelt’s running mate, black Americans were deeply troubled. Many believed that Truman, born and raised in former slave-holding Missouri, was a step back on civil rights from Henry Wallace, the liberal incumbent vice president. But by the end of his own presidency, black newspaper publishers cited Truman for having “awakened the conscience of America and given new strength to our democracy by his courageous efforts on behalf of freedom and equality.”

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Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip by Matthew Algeo

Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure- The True Story of a Great American Road Trip by Matthew Algeo
Lists It Appears On:

    • Presidents USA

On June 19, 1953, Harry Truman got up early, packed the trunk of his Chrysler New Yorker, and did something no other ex-president has done before or since: he hit the road. No Secret Service protection. No traveling press. Just Harry and his high school 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 he’d just received to write his memoirs. Hopefully incognito. In this lively history, author Matthew Algeo meticulously details how Truman’s 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 nation’s 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 America’s last citizen-president. Matthew Algeo is the author of The President Is a Sick Man and Last Team Standing. An award-winning journalist, Algeo has reported from three continents for public radio’s All Things Considered, Marketplace, and Morning Edition.

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Plain Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman by Merle Miller

Plain Speaking- an Oral Biography of Harry S Truman by Merle Miller
Lists It Appears On:

    • Presidents USA

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The Awesome Power: Harry S. Truman as Commander in Chief by Richard F. Haynes

The Awesome Power- Harry S. Truman as Commander in Chief by Richard F. Haynes
Lists It Appears On:

    • Presidents USA

The Awesome Power, the first comprehensive study of Harry S. Truman as commander in chief, is an important and highly relevant book, especially in view of the growing concern over the president’s ability to wage war without the consent of either the Congress or the American people. A selective chronicle of the events in which Truman’s decisions were of historic significance, the book analyzes his decision-making process in terms of the information available to him, the existing pressures, and the relationship of his decisions to his own well-defined concepts of how a commander in chief should function.

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The Double V: How Wars, Protest, and Harry Truman Desegregated America’s Military by Rawn James Jr.

The Double V- How Wars, Protest, and Harry Truman Desegregated America’s Military by Rawn James Jr.
Lists It Appears On:

    • Presidents USA

Executive Order 9981, issued by President Harry Truman on July 26, 1948, desegregated all branches of the United States military by decree. Truman’s historic order is often portrayed as a heroic and unexpected move–but in reality, it was the culmination of more than 150 years of legal, political, and moral struggle.

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The Last Campaign: How Harry Truman Won the 1948 Election by Zachary Karabell

The Last Campaign- How Harry Truman Won the 1948 Election by Zachary Karabell
Lists It Appears On:

    • Signature

In 1948, Harry Truman, the feisty working-class Democratic incumbent was one of the most unpopular presidents the country had ever known. His Republican rival, the aloof Thomas Dewey, was widely thought to be a shoe-in. These two major party candidates were flanked on the far left by the Progressive Henry Wallace, and on the far right by white supremacist Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond. The Last Campaign exposes the fascinating story behind Truman’s legendary victory and turns a probing eye toward a by-gone era of political earnestness, when, for “the last time in this century, an entire spectrum of ideologies was represented,” a time before television fundamentally altered the political landscape.

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Truman by Roy Jenkins

Truman by Roy Jenkins
Lists It Appears On:

    • Library of Congress

In his time, Harry S. Truman was one of the most under-rated presidents of the twentieth century. Succeeding the charismatic Roosevelt, he was often seen as an uninspiring leader, a poor diplomat and a fumbling politician. He was the first man to authorise the use of nuclear weapons, and was in office at the time when the multiplicity of hopes which arose at the end of the Second World War were inevitably disappointed. Nothing could be further from Roy Jenkins’ view of him. This is the first biography of Truman to be written by an author with anything approaching the subject’s own range of political experience, and Roy Jenkins brings to this book a quality of appreciation of Truman’s political skills which has not been seen before. It is also the first biography to be written by a British author, giving it a new objectivity on the international affairs which occupied so much of Truman’s presidency and by which he must be judged.

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Truman’s Crises: A Political Biography of Harry S Truman by Harold Foote Gosnell

Truman's Crises- A Political Biography of Harry S. Truman by Harold Foote Gosnell
Lists It Appears On:

    • Library of Congress

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Tumultuous Years: The Presidency of Harry S Truman, 1949-1953 by Robert J. Donovan

Tumultuous Years- The Presidency of Harry S Truman, 1949-1953 by Robert John Donovan
Lists It Appears On:

    • Library of Congress

Robert J. Donovan’s Tumultuous Years presents a detailed account of Harry S. Truman’s presidency from 1949-1953.

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Where the Buck Stops: The Personal and Private Writings of Harry S. Truman by Margaret Truman

Where the Buck Stops- The Personal and Private Writings of Harry S. Truman by Margaret Truman
Lists It Appears On:

    • Presidents USA

In the bestselling tradition of Margaret Truman’s biography Harry S. Truman, here are the 33rd U.S. President’s fascinating theories and opinions on leadership and leaders, plus his picks for the best and worst presidents–all in his bluntly honest “give-em-hell” style.

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The Best Harry S. Truman Book Lists Consulted



SourceArticle
All The Presidents Books One Through Forty-Two or Forty-Three
At Times Dull Janet’s Presidential Biography Project & Blog
Best Presidential Bios The Best Presidential Biographies
Huffington Post Presidents’ Day History: The Must-Reads Of Presidential Biographies
Library of Congress Selected Bibliography
Mandi Lindner 44 Presidents and Their Definitive Biographies
Mashable Why I’m spending a year reading about every U.S. president
Presidential History Presidential Resources
Presidential History (Again) Pulitzer Prize Winning Books About Presidents
Presidents USA FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT HARRY TRUMAN
Signature Give ’em Hell Harry: 3 of the Best Harry Truman Biographies
The Tailored Man The 44 Best Presidential Biographies
The Washington Post The Fix’s list of best presidential biographies

 

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