Kirkus Reviews QR Code
HARRY S. TRUMAN'S MEMOIRS Vol. I by Harry S. Truman Kirkus Star



Pub Date: Nov. 2nd, 1955
Publisher: Doubleday

This first volume of the long-awaited Memoirs goes far beyond the hopes of the reading public in the scope and interest, and the extraordinarily personal quality of the writing. It would seem that Truman kept careful notes throughout his career, for this- while a meticulous record of the first year in the presidential office -- is much more. Through flashbacks and intimately recalled episodes of the past, he gives us a portrait of a boy growing up in the mid-west; he honestly assesses the plus and minus elements of that youth, seeing it chiefly as plus, with a middle income background, alternate success and failure on his father's part- and later his own; his almost chance entry into politics and honest determination to play a square game with the voters who elected him. The Pendergast machine seemed fairly remote from his own minor role. His election to Congress and the constructive work he did there, along with years of study and reading in the field of American history and politics, provided better than average preparation for a role he would never have chosen to play. And at what a moment did he enter world history! From the announcement that he was the President, his memoirs take on a still more meticulous aura of a ""report to the nation"". Here, day by day, as crucial matters shaped up, Harry Truman grew in stature so that when fearful decisions had to be made, he felt able- though humble in so doing- to make them. Perhaps those who have carefully followed successive records of those troubled months, as the war in Europe came to a close, Stalin jockeyed for position, taking advantage of Roosevelt's death, pressures at home demanded return of the troops, promises that had made made to be kept- though circumstances had altered- and the war in the Pacific raised the issue of the need for more pressures, the need for Russian intervention, the grave decision regarding the atom bomb- perhaps for those students of the period there will be little that is newsworthy. But nowhere else has there been so personal a closeup of step after step that must be taken. This first volume of the Memoirs justifies the anticipation as contemporary history and a very human document.