by J. Robert Moskin ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 1, 1996
A straightforward, suitably plain-spoken account of the first dramatic months of a presidency that transformed America's world role. Moskin (The U.S. Marine Corps Story, not reviewed), a former foreign editor of Look magazine, focuses on the crisis with which Truman's presidency began--the sudden death of FDR and the accession of the inexperienced, poorly prepared vice president to the Oval Office just as WW II reached its denouement. Moskin points out that Truman made his share of mistakes, such as allowing Stalin to retain control over eastern Europe. However, Truman's decisiveness stopped the Soviets from dominating western Europe and Japan. Moskin shows that Truman's encounters with such strong egos from the Allied side as Churchill, de Gaulle, and Douglas MacArthur presented challenges almost as severe as his meetings with Stalin. About Truman's most controversial decision from this period, the determination to use the atomic bomb, Moskin sides with those who say it was necessary to prevent an even more costly invasion of Japan (although he does not offer a detailed argument). At this time of rapidly increasing tension between the US and the Soviet Union, Truman not only had to bring the world's most destructive war to a successful conclusion, but also had to grapple with such issues as the establishment of the United Nations and the beginning of the end of the British and French empires. Truman emerges as a resolutely honest, decisive, and plain-spoken chief executive who moved rapidly to put his own distinctive stamp on the job, unintimidated by the towering ghost of FDR. Truman was a dynamo of activity, somehow finding time to effect a thorough reorganization of the military and providing such entitlements as the GI Bill. In Moskin's portrait, Truman emerges as a man meeting the test of his life with courage, common sense, and great skill.
Pub Date: July 1, 1996
Page Count: 432
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1996
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