Harry's Farewell: Interpreting and Teaching the Truman Presidency

University of Missouri Press
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"Harry's Farewell confronts the biggest issue of Truman historiography: the historical significance of Harry S. Truman's presidency. Exploring the subject from the point of view of Truman's Farewell Address of January 15, 1953, the book begins by describing the preparation of the address itself by the president and his closest advisers. In it, they challenged the negative view of his presidency that prevailed as he prepared to leave the White House. The book goes on to appraise the presidency in terms of the topics included in the address: the president and the people, the economy, civil rights, the bomb, Containment, Korea, and the end of the Cold War. Four essays follow that cover key topics that Truman did not mention in his speech: the Red Scare, women's rights, ethnicity, and the environment. The book ends with essays by two major Truman biographers who present their own interpretations of his historical significance." --Book Jacket.
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Publisher
University of Missouri Press
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Published on
Dec 31, 2004
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Pages
381
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ISBN
9780826264220
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Language
English
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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A general history of the critical first year of the Korean War, this study deals primarily with relations between General Douglas MacArthur and President Harry S. Truman from June 1950 to April 1951, a period that defined the war's direction until General Mark Clark, the final U.N. Commander, signed the Armistice two years later. Although the ever-changing military situation is outlined, the main focus is on policymaking and the developing friction between Truman and MacArthur. Wainstock contradicts the common view that MacArthur and Truman were constantly at odds on the basic aims of the war. In the matter of carrying the fight to Communist China, MacArthur and the Joint Chiefs differed only on timing, not on the need for such action.

The end of the Cold War has provided historians with a better opportunity to study the forces that shaped the thinking of America's leaders at the time of the Korean War. The sheer quantity of material now available, while daunting, is filled with colorful and outstanding personalities, dramatic action, and momentous actions that have had an impact on world events even to the present day. Wainstock ultimately concludes that Washington placed too much emphasis on anti-Communist ideology, rather than long-term national interest, in the decision first to intervene in the war and later to cross the crucial 38th Parallel. He also emphasizes the important contributions of General Matthew B. Ridgway in stopping the Chinese offensive and in influencing Washington's decision not to carry the war to Communist China.

From the first days of his unexpected presidency in April 1945 through the landmark NSC 68 of 1950, Harry Truman was central to the formation of AmericaÕs grand strategy during the Cold War and the subsequent remaking of U.S. foreign policy. Others are frequently associated with the terminology of and responses to the perceived global Communist threat after the Second World War: Walter Lippmann popularized the term Òcold war,Ó and George F. Kennan first used the word ÒcontainmentÓ in a strategic sense. Although Kennan, Secretary of State Dean Acheson, and Secretary of Defense George C. Marshall have been seen as the most influential architects of American Cold War foreign policy, The First Cold Warrior draws on archives and other primary sources to demonstrate that Harry Truman was the key decision maker in the critical period between 1945 and 1950. In a significant reassessment of the thirty-third president and his political beliefs, Elizabeth Edwards Spalding contends that it was Truman himself who defined and articulated the theoretical underpinnings of containment. His practical leadership style was characterized by policies and institutions such as the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, NATO, the Berlin airlift, the Department of Defense, and the National Security Council. Part of TrumanÕs unique approachÑshaped by his religious faith and dedication to anti-communismÑwas to emphasize the importance of free peoples, democratic institutions, and sovereign nations. With these values, he fashioned a new liberal internationalism, distinct from both Woodrow WilsonÕs progressive internationalism and Franklin D. RooseveltÕs liberal pragmatism, which still shapes our politics. Truman deserves greater credit for understanding the challenges of his time and for being AmericaÕs first cold warrior. This reconsideration of TrumanÕs overlooked statesmanship provides a model for interpreting the international crises facing the United States in this new era of ideological conflict.
Few U.S. presidents have captured the imagination of the American people as has Harry S. Truman, “the man from Missouri.”

In this major new biography, Robert H. Ferrell, widely regarded as an authority on the thirty-third president, challenges the popular characterization of Truman as a man who rarely sought the offices he received, revealing instead a man who—with modesty, commitment to service, and basic honesty—moved with method and system toward the presidency.

Truman was ambitious in the best sense of the word. His powerful commitment to service was accompanied by a remarkable shrewdness and an exceptional ability to judge people. He regarded himself as a consummate politician, a designation of which he was proud. While in Washington, he never succumbed to the “Potomac fever” that swelled the heads of so many officials in that city. A scrupulously honest man, Truman exhibited only one lapse when, at the beginning of 1941, he padded his Senate payroll by adding his wife and later his sister.

From his early years on the family farm through his pivotal decision to use the atomic bomb in World War II, Truman’s life was filled with fascinating events. Ferrell’s exhaustive research offers new perspectives on many key episodes in Truman’s career, including his first Senate term and the circumstances surrounding the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan. In addition, Ferrell taps many little-known sources to relate the intriguing story of the machinations by which Truman gained the vice presidential nomination in 1944, a position which put him a heartbeat away from the presidency.

No other historian has ever demonstrated such command over the vast amounts of material that Robert Ferrell brings to bear on the unforgettable story of Truman’s life. Based upon years of research in the Truman Library and the study of many never-before-used primary sources, Harry S. Truman is destined to become the authoritative account of the nation’s favorite president.

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