ELEANOR AND HARRY by Steve Neal

ELEANOR AND HARRY

The Correspondence of Eleanor Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman
edited by

KIRKUS REVIEW

Previously unpublished letters between President Truman and the woman he dubbed “First Lady of the World.”

While researching Harry and Ike: The Partnership That Remade the Postwar World (2001), Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neal unearthed a cache of intimate correspondence between Truman and former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and recognized that readers would find the private, personal letters between these two public figures compelling. The letters reveal how their friendship began as Truman reached out to the newly widowed first lady in 1945 and offered her an appointment as one of the first representatives to the FDR-inspired United Nations. This early bonding blossomed into a bold mutual respect that manifested itself during crises as varied as the death of Truman’s mother and General Douglas MacArthur’s insubordination during the Korean War. Despite their warm friendship, the volume also reveals significant tension during the periods when Truman and Roosevelt’s political views diverged. According to Neal, Roosevelt’s belief that Truman couldn’t win the 1948 presidential election led her to covertly support her sons’ efforts to draft Dwight Eisenhower as the Democratic candidate. Other letters show how disagreements over Truman’s treatment of conscientious objectors or his early dealings with the Soviet Union further strained their friendship. Despite these occasional political differences, the correspondence (bolstered by Neal’s keen historical insights) suggests that Truman and Roosevelt’s deepening relationship enriched not only their own lives, but also the character of their nation in the early days of the Cold War.

Thanks to the broader perspective added by Neal’s expert annotations, this warm and provocative collection will appeal to general readers as well as Truman and Roosevelt specialists.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-7432-0243-0
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2002




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