BESS AND HARRY: An American Love Story by Jhan Robbins

BESS AND HARRY: An American Love Story

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

The Trumans were an undeniably appealing couple, but since their relationship has been written up by Harry Truman himself, Margaret Truman Daniel, and a host of others, it is not surprising that this latest portrait is largely a compilation of familiar anecdotes. Journalist Jhan Robbins describes Bess and Harry's opposite backgrounds: she came from a patrician home, he from modest surroundings. Mother-in-law Madge Wallace never approved of the marriage and continued to disparage Truman even after he became President. But the couple were totally devoted: Harry's cousin Ethel Noland (quoted extensively) says Bess was his ""Becky Thatcher""; and a military associate quipped that, to Truman, criticism of Bess was ""the equivalent of spitting on the flag."" We learn that while the Trumans were not publicly demonstrative, they held hands in the movies when the lights when down; they were apprehensive about Margaret ever getting married and apparently approved of Clifton Daniel; they consulted together on major national policy decisions including use of the atom bomb. Although Robbins outlines Truman's political career as backdrop, this is more a story of Bess--her refusal to let Harry fly to the Potsdam Conference (she assured him a ship was more dignified); her fury at his outburst against the music critic who lambasted Margaret's performance, etc. Now 95, Bess still lives in the family home in Independence. Pleasant if not original.

Pub Date: Sept. 16th, 1980
Publisher: Putnam