The Trials of Harry S. Truman: The Extraordinary Presidency of An Ordinary Man, 1945-1953
The Trials of Harry S. Truman--the first full account of the Truman presidency in nearly thirty years—is a work of discovery, revealing a man far more complex than the customary "give 'em hell" provincial who, at age sixty, suddenly inherited the White House. More than six years of archival research and travels to Missouri, Washington, Berlin, and Korea, meant revisiting, and reassessing some of Truman's most critical decisions—from giving the order to use the world's first atomic bomb to seizing the nation's steel mills to the hasty call to support a tragic, "limited" war in Korea. It's also an intimate portrait of a man torn between his upbringing (and Confederate ancestry) and what he saw as a duty to support equal rights for African Americans.
Truman's nearly eight years in office also opens a bright window onto mid-20th-century America, and a vibrant cast of characters, including rivalrous politicians; a generation of powerful columnists; the new breed of atomic scientists, and the commanding figures of World War II, along with such personalities as Joseph McCarthy, Billy Graham, and Mickey Spillane—all in an unsettled time of a federal "loyalty" program and rumors that Adolf Hitler was alive and living in Argentina. One never forgets that this self-described common man, born in the Nineteenth Century, set the nation on a course that, for better or worse, continues into the Twenty-First.
Pre-publication comments include:
"Pitch-perfect…. clear-eyed, wise, and compassionate—in a word, humane. Jeffrey Frank's lovely book lets us see up close how Harry Truman's decisions, sometimes considered, sometimes not, laid the foundation for the kind of world power the United States is today."
—Louis Menand, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Free World and The Metaphysical Club
"Just terrific—with a perfect tone, and a perfect understanding of Truman's strengths and shortcomings. Frank has managed this with emphases on sociology, culture, and a profound and deep understanding of the human struggle."
"A remarkable window into America's great Cold War president. Because Frank is such a sublime writer, his heroic recounting of the Truman presidency is dazzling. This is intellectual biography at its absolute finest."
—Douglas Brinkley is the Katherine Tsanoff Brown Chair in Humanities and Professor of History at Rice University and author of American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race
"Frank's talent as a novelist is on display here. With this refreshing and much needed reexamination of Truman's life, Frank establishes himself as a source of value to any reader interested in mid-twentieth century America."
—Richard Lawrence Miller, author of Truman: The Rise to Power and Lincoln and His World
"A fresh, deeply human perspective... Frank's sensitive, empathetic portrait gave me a new appreciation for this innately decent, caring man, who, for all his stumbles, was committed to making a better world for those who lived in it."
—Lynne Olson, New York Times bestselling author of Citizens of London and Madame Fourcade's Secret War
"An intimate, vivid portrait of our 33rd president and his times…. a chance to rediscover one of the most improbable and compelling figures in American history."
—Rick Atkinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Liberation Trilogy and The British Are Coming
"Frank's lively account of Truman's time in office evokes a pivotal time with vivid, carefully-gleaned detail. And it's an appropriate book for this political moment, when a lot of us are hoping that an ordinary man will turn out to be an extraordinary president."
—Adam Hochschild, author of ten books, including Rebel Cinderella
"Massively researched, engagingly written… an intimate, revealing history of a time, and of a president, whose straightforward persona masked a more complicated, sometimes tortured man during a truly extraordinary period."
—Robert L. Messer, author of The End of an Alliance: James F. Byrnes, Roosevelt, Truman and the Origins of the Cold War
Ike and Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
One of the Best Books of 2013: Slate-- Staff Picks
One of Jay Strafford's 10 favorite books of 2013: Richmond Times-Dispatch
One of 2013's Best Books: Kansas City Star
Books of the Year: The Spectator (Australia)
One of the Eight Best Books for Potus Geeks in 2013
"...an elegant example of how pleasurable political history can be when written by a skilled teller of fictional tales who has a careful reporter's respect for facts. It is top-drawer as political history, unusually well written, and stuffed with forty pages of notes providing sources for an extraordinary variety of information. It is also an entertaining human tale of generational conflict, filled with the elements that enliven popular novels and soap operas."
--Russell Baker, in The New York Review of Books.
Ike and Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage is narrative history-- an intimate exploration of the nearly twenty-year personal and public relationship between Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon. The book follows the two men from their first encounter, in the summer of 1950, through Ike's two, crisis-filled presidential terms; it take them to the Vietnam-era, the marriage of Eisenhower's grandson, David, and Nixon's daughter Julie, and Nixon's election just four months before Ike's death. (An epilogue covers the scandals that wrecked Nixon's presidency.) Ike and Dick is based on years of research and fresh interviews with dozens of men and women who knew and worked with both men, including members of the Eisenhower and Nixon families. "To read this book," the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Kennedy wrote, "is to be reminded of Richard Nixon's singularly tortured character in all its cussedness and genius—and to learn anew of Dwight Eisenhower's capacity for shrewd political cunning and often insouciant human coldness."
One early reviewer of Ike and Dick said that my "inner Washingtonian is still intact." That probably comes from being reared there and having worked for a dozen years at the Washington Post, where I was deputy editor of Outlook. For more than thirteen years I was a senior editor at The New Yorker and a contributor to the magazine.
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Ike and Dick is my first extended work of non-fiction. My Washington Trilogy--The Columnist, Bad Publicity, and Trudy Hopedale, novels set in mid-to-late Twentieth Century Washington--was described by Bookforum as "dark, hilarious stories of motion (and stasis) on DC's social ladder." I was also the co-author (with my wife, Diana Crone Frank) of the widely praised The Stories of Hans Christian Andersen: A New Translation From the Danish. I wrote the foreword (based on a New Yorker essay) to the University of Chicago Press's re-issue of the Peter De Vries's dazzling and heartbreaking The Blood of the Lamb.
Ike and Dick is a selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club and the History Book Club. It is also available as an audio book, produced by Tantor Audio and read by the award-winning Arthur Morey.