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

November 20, 2012

In Citizen Soldier, acclaimed biographer Aida D. Donald presents a psychologically penetrating portrait of Harry S. Truman, the unlikely president who rose from a modest background to preside over the end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War. Drawing on recently-opened government documents and the private memos Truman wrote for posterity, Donald provides a revelatory new look at the 33rd president of the United States.

Truman came from a family of poor farmers, and was caught between his parentís conflicting wishes for his future. He escaped to the army in 1917, which transformed him into a man of action. He entered politics when his many business failures gave him no option, but became entangled in the Pendergast political machine in Missouri, the most vicious and corrupt organization in the nation. This stigma followed him throughout his career.

Examining his years as President, Donald looks anew at Trumanís use of the atomic bomb to end the Japanese War. She charts Trumanís mixed post-war legacy in Europe: while he provided essential support for reconstruction to the Western nations through the Marshall plan, he nonetheless conceded to Stalin in the East. From the tragic Korean War to the Fair Deal, from his remarkable re-election in 1948 to his corrupt final years in the White House, Donald offers an original and unflinching assessment of Trumanís astonishing moments of greatness along with his shortcomings.

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