STRICTLY PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL: The Unmailed Letters of Harry Truman by Harry Truman

STRICTLY PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL: The Unmailed Letters of Harry Truman

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The 140 unmailed letters from Truman's files printed here--most of them irate or indignant ""spasms,"" of which he later thought better--are not quite the ""secret"" trove suggested: all the significant or especially juicy missives (to the number of 24) are included in Robert Ferrell's 1980 compendium of Truman private papers, Off the Record. Among these are: the two aggrieved letters to Stevenson (""I have come to the conclusion that you are embarrassed by having the President of the United States in your corner in this campaign""); the score-settling ""congratulations"" to Eisenhower; the lesser-of-two-evils note to Dean Acheson about ""the immature Democrat,"" JFK; the reproach to columnist Arthur Krock re foreign-policy ""blunders"" (""Was the salvation of Greece and Turkey a blunder? Was the Berlin Airlift a blunder?"" etc.); the sharp rejoinder to Eleanor Roosevelt's request that he pardon WW II C.O.s. Also--in a more personally cantankerous vein: a blast at a Kansas City columnist for omitting mention of his town's ""number one world citizen""; a complaint to a Richmond, Va., paper for saying that ""the President of the United States"" had exceeded the speed limit; a squawk at the unreadability of the US Treasurer's daily financial statement. The new collection, arranged by topic, also contains: further denunciations of the ""sabotage press""; reaffirmations of the rightness of dropping the A-bomb and firing MacArthur; a well-put defense of his 1945 position on Palestine; some characteristic Truman little-guy stands on social issues; and a few spirited examples of his broad knowledge of history. It's the Truman personality, all right; and Poen has done a yeoman job of annotating each item (far superior, in fact, to Ferrell's). But, with Off the Record available, this is little more than a flavorful souvenir.

Pub Date: April 5th, 1982
Publisher: Little, Brown