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Truman [Anglais] [Broché]

David McCullough

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Description de l'ouvrage

14 juin 1993
The Pulitzer Prize–winning biography of Harry S. Truman, whose presidency included momentous events from the atomic bombing of Japan to the outbreak of the Cold War and the Korean War, told by America’s beloved and distinguished historian.

The life of Harry S. Truman is one of the greatest of American stories, filled with vivid characters—Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bess Wallace Truman, George Marshall, Joe McCarthy, and Dean Acheson—and dramatic events. In this riveting biography, acclaimed historian David McCullough not only captures the man—a more complex, informed, and determined man than ever before imagined—but also the turbulent times in which he rose, boldly, to meet unprecedented challenges. The last president to serve as a living link between the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries, Truman’s story spans the raw world of the Missouri frontier, World War I, the powerful Pendergast machine of Kansas City, the legendary Whistle-Stop Campaign of 1948, and the decisions to drop the atomic bomb, confront Stalin at Potsdam, send troops to Korea, and fire General MacArthur. Drawing on newly discovered archival material and extensive interviews with Truman’s own family, friends, and Washington colleagues, McCullough tells the deeply moving story of the seemingly ordinary “man from Missouri” who was perhaps the most courageous president in our history.

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Chapter 1
Blue River Country

As an agricultural region, Missouri is not surpassed by any state in the Union. It is indeed the farmer's kingdom....

The History of Jackson County, Missouri,


In the spring of 1841, when John Tyler was President, a Kentucky farmer named Solomon Young and his red-haired wife, Harriet Louisa Young, packed their belongings and with two small children started for the Far West. They had decided to stake their future on new land in the unseen, unfamiliar reaches of westernmost Missouri, which was then the "extreme frontier" of the United States.

They were part of a large migration out of Kentucky that had begun nearly twenty years before, inspired by accounts of a "New Eden" in farthest Missouri -- by reports sent back by Daniel Morgan Boone, the son of Daniel Boone and by the fact that in 1821 Missouri had come into the Union as a slave state. The earliest settlers included families named Boggs, Dailey, and Adair, McCoy, McClelland, Chiles, Pitcher, and Gregg, and by 1827 they had founded a courthouse town called Independence, pleasantly situated on high ground in Jackson County, in what was often spoken of as the Blue River country. Those who came afterward, at the time of Solomon and Harriet Louisa Young, were named Hickman, Holmes, and Ford, Davenport, McPherson, Mann, Noland, and Nolan, Freeman, Truman, Peacock, Shank, Wallace, and Whitset, and they numbered in the hundreds.

Nearly all were farmers, plain-mannered and plain-spoken, people with little formal education. Many of them were unlettered, even illiterate. They were not, however, poor or downtrodden, as sometimes pictured -- only by the material standards of later times could they be considered wanting -- and though none were wealthy, some, like red-haired Harriet Louisa, came from families of substantial means. She had said goodbye to a spacious Greek Revival house with wallpaper and milled woodwork, the Kentucky home of her elder brother and guardian, William Gregg, who owned numerous slaves and landholdings running to many hundreds of acres.

The great majority of these people were of Scotch-Irish descent. They were Baptists and they were Democrats, and like Thomas Jefferson they believed that those who labored in the earth were the chosen people of God. They saw themselves as the true Americans. Their idol was Andrew Jackson, Old Hickory of Tennessee, "One-man-with-courage-makes-amajority" Jackson, the first President from west of the Alleghenies, who was of their own Scotch-Irish stock. It was for him that Jackson County had been named, and like him they could be tough, courageous, blunt, touchy, narrow-minded, intolerant, and quarrelsome. And obstinate. "Lord, grant that I may always be right, for Thou knowest I am hard to turn," was a line from an old Scotch-Irish prayer.

With their Bibles, farm tools, and rifles, their potent corn whiskey, their black slaves, they brought from Kentucky a hidebound loathing for taxes, Roman Catholics, and eastern ways. Their trust was in the Lord and common sense. That they and their forebears had survived at all in backwoods Kentucky -- or earlier in upland Virginia and the Carolinas -- was due primarily to "good, hard sense," as they said, and no end of hard work.

They were workers and they were loners, fiercely independent, fiercely loyal to their kind. And they were proudly prolific. David Dailey, recorded as the first man to break the prairie sod in Jackson County, came west with a wife and twelve sons, while Christopher Mann, who outlived everybody of that generation, had already produced with his Betsie seventeen sons and daughters and with a second marriage fathered eight more. (Years afterward, at age eighty-seven, this memorable Jackson County pioneer could claim he had never lost a tooth from decay and could still hold his breath for a minute and a half.) They believed in big families, they came from big families. Children were wealth for a farmer, as for a nation. President Tyler himself had eight children, and in another few years, at age fifty-four, following the death of his first wife, he would remarry and have seven more children, making a total of fifteen, a presidential record.

Solomon Young, who was one of eleven children, and his wife Harriet Louisa, one of thirteen, were from Shelby County, Kentucky, east of Louisville. And so was Nancy Tyler Holmes, a widow with ten children, who made the journey west to Missouri three or four years later, about 1845, once her sons had established themselves in Jackson County. Carrying a sack of tea cakes and her late husband's beaver hat in a large leather hatbox, she traveled in the company of several slaves and her two youngest daughters, one of whom, Mary Jane Holmes, was secretly pining for a young man back in Shelby County named Anderson Truman. He was one of twelve children.

If Solomon and Harriet Louisa Young were acquainted with any of the Holmes or Truman families by this time, there is no record of it.

Nearly everyone made the expedition the same way, traveling the wilderness not by wagon or horseback but by steamboat. The route was down the winding Ohio River from Louisville, past Henderson and Paducah, to the confluence of the Mississippi at Cairo, then up the Mississippi to St. Louis. Changing boats at St. Louis, they headed west on the Missouri, the "Big Muddy," fighting the current for 457 miles, as far as the river's sudden, dramatic bend. There they went ashore at either of two miserable, mudbound little river settlements, Wayne City or Westport, which put them within a few miles of Independence, still the only town of consequence on the frontier.

With the "terrible current" against them, the trip on the Missouri took a week. The shallow-draft boats were loaded so deep the water broke over the gunwales. Wagons and freight jammed the deck, cordwood for the engines, mules, horses, piles of saddles and harness, leaving passengers little room. (One side-wheel steamer of the era that sank in the river and was only recovered more than a century later, carried cargo that included everything from ax handles and rifles to school slates, doorknobs, whale oil lanterns, beeswax candles, 2,500 boots and shoes, and thousands of bright-colored beads and buttons intended for the Indian trade.) Day after day, the heavy, shadowed forest passed slowly by, broken only now and then by an open meadow or tiny settlement where a few lone figures stood waving from among the tree stumps. Some trees towering over the river banks measured six feet through. On summer mornings the early filtered light on the water could be magical.

These were the years of the great Missouri River paintings by George Caleb Bingham. The river Bingham portrayed was the settlers' path. The distant steamer appearing through the sun-filled morning haze in his Boatmen on the Missouri, as an example, could be the Radnor, the Henry Bry or Winona, any of twenty-odd river packets that carried the Kentucky people.

The only notable sign of civilization west of St. Louis was the state capitol on a bluff at Jefferson City, a white limestone affair, "very substantial in execution," within which was displayed a full-length portrait of Senator Thomas Hart Benton, Missouri's own thundering voice of westward expansion. The painting was said to have cost the unheard-of sum of $1,000.

Besides those from Kentucky, the migration included families from Virginia, the Carolinas, and Tennessee, who, with the Kentuckians, made it a predominantly southern movement and so one of numerous slaveholders other than Nancy Tyler Holmes. Possibly, Solomon Young, too, brought slaves. In later years, it is known, he owned three or four -- a cook, a nursemaid, one or two farmhands -- which was about the usual number for those bound for Jackson County. They were farmers, not cotton planters, and for many, a slave was a mark of prosperity and social station. Still, the accumulative number of black men, women, and children traveling to the frontier was substantial. Incredibly, one Jabez Smith, a Virginia slave trader who set up business near Independence, is on record as having transported more than two hundred slaves.

White, black, young and old, they crowded the upbound steamers in the company of hellfire preachers and cardsharps, or an occasional pallid easterner traveling west for his health. Old journals speak, too, of uniformed soldiers on their way to Fort Leavenworth, blanketed Kaw (or Kansas) Indians, French fur traders and mountainmen with their long hair and conspicuous buckskins -- a seemingly endless, infinitely colorful variety of humankind and costume. Nancy Tyler Holmes is said to have worn a white lace cap that concealed an ugly scar. As a child in Kentucky, during a Shawnee uprising, she allegedly saved herself by pretending to be dead, never moving or making a sound as she was being scalped. True or not, the story served long among her descendants as a measure of family grit.

The feeling in surviving accounts is of noisy good company and wild scenery and of "history" as an immediate and entirely human experience. Lieutenant John Charles Fremont, the celebrated Path Finder, came up the river in 1842, on his first exploring expedition to the Rockies. (One traveler described Fremont's party as "healthy and full of fun and elasticity.., by no means a choir of Psalm-singers, nor Quakers. They ate, drank, talked, sang, played cards and smoked cigars when they pleased and as much as they pleased.") The following year, 1843, came john James Audubon. In the summer of 1846 a young historian from Boston, Francis Parkman, stood at the rail of theRadnor marveling at the immense brown sweep of the river, its treacherous snags and shifting sandbars. "The Missouri is constantly changing its course," Parkman was to write in The California and Oregon Trail, his classic account of the journey, "wearing away its banks on one side, while it forms new ones on the other. Its channel is continually shifting. Islands are formed, and then washed a...

Revue de presse

"Meticulously detailed, elegantly written, tightly constructed, rich in revealing anecdotes and penetrating insights. It is, as its subject demands, biography on the grand scale."
-- Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post

"A warm, affectionate and thoroughly captivating biography....the most thorough account of Truman's life yet to appear. "
-- Alan Brinkley, The New York Times Book Review

"McCullough's marvelous feel for history is based on an appreciation of colorful tales and an insight into personalities. In this compelling saga of America's greatest common-man president, McCullough adds luster to an old-fashioned historical approach...the sweeping narrative, filled with telling details and an appreciation of the role individuals play in, shaping the world."
-- Walter Isaacson, Time

" may open it at any point and instantly become fascinated, so easy, lucid, and energetic is the narrative and so absorbing the sequence of events."
-- The Economist

"McCullough is a master storyteller whose considerable narrative skills have been put to exquisite use in re-creating the life and times of America's 33rd president."
-- Robert Dallek, Los Angeles Times Book Review

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In the spring of 1841, when John Tyler was President, a Kentucky farmer named Solomon Young and his red-haired wife, Harriet Louisa Young, packed their belongings and with two small children started for the Far West. Lire la première page
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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index | Quatrième de couverture
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216 internautes sur 223 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Surprising for a biography, this was a page-turner. 6 août 1997
Par Un client - Publié sur
At first the size of this book can seem daunting. However, from the very first page I found it fascinating. For most of the 1,000 or so pages it read like a novel, a real page-turner. Because of the kind of time commitment necessary to read a book of this size, I read it in sections over a couple months, reading other things in between.

Having lived through most of the significant events discussed in the book, I found them presented with accuracy. Mr. McCullough showed all sides of every significant conflict.

The book gives a fascinating insight into the difficulties of public office and the setting of public policy. It also presents Harry S. Truman as a man of real integrity and one who will, in the long run, undoubtedly go down as one of our great presidents.

Throughout this book I was consistently impressed with Mr. Mccullough's writing style. Anyone who can keep the pages turning for 1,000 pages of biography is an extremely skilled writer!

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in 20th century American history, but also to anyone interested in just plain good writing!
82 internautes sur 84 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 This is the BEST book I have ever read! 26 décembre 2000
Par Jeffrey Tidwell - Publié sur
I read this book two years ago during a Christmas vacation. At first, I was intimidated by the sheer size of the book. However, I found that once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down! David McCullough is, perhaps, the best American historical biographer alive today. His writing is crisp, clean, and entertaining. I have to admit that before I started this book, I was pretty ignorant about who Harry S Truman was as a person, as well as the contributions that he made to the United States and to the world as President. I was absolutely STUNNED to learn how influential and accomplished Truman was during his presidency. Truman left a legacy of good works that still impact the world in which we live today. Like one earlier reviewer wrote, I too had always been looking for a hero, someone who came from humble beginnings and made a lasting impact on the world in which he lived. I found that hero in the pages of David McCullough's book. As I finished the last page of this book, I felt like both crying (because I was saying goodbye to a friend that I had grown to love), and cheering (because I had found my American Hero in Harry S Truman). This book should be a must-read for every American!
130 internautes sur 143 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Superb Coverage Of An Amazing Man's Life and Times! 20 décembre 2000
Par Barron Laycock - Publié sur
Into the press of circumstance and the irony of history strode the diminutive and bespectacled Harry S. Truman, who promptly grinned his way into becoming the single most surprising President of the 20th century. Written off as a party hack of the Missouri democratic machine until very late in his political career, Truman astounded everyone by picking up the shambles left in the wake of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's sudden death and turning in a deft and remarkable performance against the most formidable of odds. In this best-selling biography by noted author and historian David McCullough (The Path Between The Seas), one is treated to a massively informative and yet immensely readable treatment of Truman's life and times. The author uses a treasure-trove of newly available archives, personal interviews, and historical records to show how the unassuming man from Missouri who everyone under-appreciated became responsible for everything from the successful conclusion of WWII to the Marshall Plan to the formation of NATO to the Berlin Airlift rose to assume the Presidency in one of our nation's darkest moments.
From his first halting steps as a young man rising out of poverty and a farm family background to become a sudden war hero who led men bravely in combat, from his frequent missteps and failures as a post-war businessman to a first failed try for local political office, from his quick rise from county-level politics to become the darling and frequent benefactor of the quite colorful Pendergast political machine, this is the stuff of a momentous 20th century life, told as well as it can be by a master of historical biographies. Truman, who arose from a family beset by tragedy, missteps, and misfortune, was saddled before adulthood with the responsibilities and burdens that were so common for those coming of age early in this century. His is the story of a man who kept trying, arising again and again when life and misfortune knocked him down, and like the proverbial hero of one of Horatio Alger's novels, Truman's persistence and dogged courage before personal defeat eventually brought him to public prominence and to the United States Senate.
Once established in the Senate, Truman quite rapidly (and totally unexpectedly) proved himself a consummate diplomat, negotiator, and dogged proponent for what was right, rational, and reasonable. In doing so, he earned himself a reputation as man with uncommon moral character and indefatigable energy. Later this strength of character and ability to do the hard things when pressed to do so proved invaluable, as in the decision to employ the atomic bomb against Japan and to fire that most vexing and perplexing of military war heroes, the legendary Douglas MacArthur. McCullough's treatment reveals for us the drama of Truman's sudden and unexpected tour as President; a terrifying, wrenching and extraordinarily difficult balancing act for someone left so singularly unprepared and unprepared as was Truman. Yet so masterful was his balancing act that he became a legend himself by simply being himself, a man who believed in all of the traditional verities and virtues, a man of the common people who was always unassuming, self-effacing, and quick to admit his own mistakes.
This is truly a wonderful book, one I have read several times simply because I find its depiction of Truman as being quite inspirational. Here was a man who rose to meet the challenges of his life and his times, a most unexpected leader and role model who showed us, even in his death, that the role of the man of enduring virtue participating in public life is an achievable and workable goal, that we can have people with moral direction and the courage of their convictions to serve us and the country at large as President. Especially now, in the age of mental midgets and errant sons of former presidents running for office, it is wonderful to remember a time when an ordinary man proved just how extraordinary he could be. Enjoy!
57 internautes sur 62 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A superb biography of a great President! 1 mars 2000
Par Mike Powers - Publié sur
David McCullough's Pulitzer Prize winning biography "Truman" is undoubtedly the best Presidential biography I've read in recent years. Written in a graceful and powerfully eloquent style, it is meticulously researched, and accurately captures the essence of the man who was the 33rd President of the United States.
McCullough challenges a commonly held view of history that Harry S Truman was nothing more than a common man of mediocre abilities who became President almost by accident, and owed his political success to his loyalty to the Democratic party and the Kansas City political bosses. By tracing the life of this self-made man - a farmer, artillery captain during World War I, haberdasher, local politician, U.S. Senator, Vice President, and ultimately President of the United States - the author acquaints the reader with a highly intelligent, competent and complex man. Here is seen the highly principled politician whose ability to judge the character of others enabled him to select outstanding men like Dean Acheson and George Marshall to serve in his administration; a Chief Executive capable of making some of the most momentous decisions of the twentieth century, such as ordering the use of the atomic bomb against Japan in 1945, integrating the Armed Forces in 1948, and firing General Douglas MacArthur in 1951. But, here also is seen a man who remained loyal to personal friends and Democratic party bosses and tolerant of their often disreputable activities; and who, in a fit of petty anger, authored a threatening letter to a music critic who wrote unfavorably about his daughter.
"Truman" is above all a fair and balanced portrait of one of the most unique and greatest of American Presidents. In my view, this extraordinarily well written book is destined to be the biography of Harry S Truman against which all others will be measured. Highly recommended!
82 internautes sur 91 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The biography of an authentic American 2 juin 2001
Par Jon R. Schlueter - Publié sur
I am a great fan of biographies of great men. This is the first time I have ached to spend time in the company of the subject of a biography. There is something about Harry Truman --underestimated, shrewd, fallible, magnificent, decent and straight-taliking -- that comes across in this biography. I highly recommend this book.
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