The Accidental President: Harry S. Truman and the Four Months That Changed the World

A.J. Baime. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30 (448p) ISBN 978-0-544-61734-6
Journalist and editor Baime (The Arsenal of Democracy) carves out a slice of the Truman presidency and serves up an attractive tale for fans of both presidential and WWII history. He opens with an acknowledgement of Truman’s divisive legacy, then sidesteps the debate by arguing that, whether the Missourian is considered among one of the best or the worst presidents, “the first four months of his administration should rank as the most challenging and action-packed” of any president’s. When F.D.R. decided to run for an unprecedented fourth term, he selected Truman, a senator from Missouri whom he barely knew, as his vice president. The position didn’t afford Truman access to Roosevelt’s inner circle and, after F.D.R.’s death, Truman found himself unprepared for the presidency. He proved a quick study, however, and Baime’s account centers on how Truman brought the U.S. through the end of WWII. He writes admiringly of Truman’s negotiations with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin over the future of postwar Europe and of his decision to use an atomic bomb on Japan to end the war in the Pacific. Baime opens a clear, if narrow, window on a pivotal moment in history. Illus. Agent: Scott Waxman, Waxman Leavell Literary. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/28/2017
Release date: 10/24/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 448 pages - 978-0-544-61848-0
Paperback - 464 pages - 978-1-328-50568-2
MP3 CD - 978-1-5436-7871-0
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