A.J. Baime
ARRSE Rating
5 Mushroom Heads
When I saw that I'd won a prize in Auld Yin's latest Pot Luck book competition (yes read it and weep losers, I won, muwah ha ha ha...), I was looking forward to getting some light reading and a pleasant diversion from my normal fare. To say I was disappointed when this hefty tome crashed on to the mat would be an understatement, needless to say that slurs were cast on his parentage, Regiment, current mental state and place of residence loudly and repeatedly, however I now find myself in the strange position of apologising to him, I'm sorry I take it all back and thank you for the chance to read this.

It was either an inspired choice or indeed Lady Luck was smiling down on me that day. The author A.J.Baime is a New York Times bestseller author, and his two previous books are currently in discussion to become major movie project, well the advertising blurb at the back of the book says that.

It actually took me a few days to pick it up, in a mood of resignation expecting a dry political tome on a man I knew very little about beyond his name and how he was F.D.R's VP when he died. Well, it's not dry and it reveals, in exhaustively researched detail that Truman was able to rise to the challenges that destiny laid at his feet and massively exceed the very limited expectations most held of him when he was thrust into the spotlight. The narrative remains focussed on Truman and explores his background and career bringing him to the position of Vice President.

Starting from his upbringing in rural Missouri, from his family background (former slave-owning "Rebel Democrats", is one description used) to his early years and through his limited education and start in life. Like many young men of his generation the Great War intervened and took him down new paths and forged new friendships which he would not forget and here we get the first glimpse of leadership ability emerging.

The book continues along remaining tightly focused and complete with vivid details of his early political career, it's a highly engaging book which has indeed changed my view of this particular character from history. Indeed I believe, unless you've spent an academic career studying Harry S. Truman, this book will be a revelation to you also. It is a compelling read, and even though I knew the main historical events how they intertwined and to see his own reasoning and how it developed was excellent revealed. To be truthful I can't recommend this book highly enough, it clearly shows why Truman has remained amongst the most popular and highly rated Presidents.

The exhaustively researched book is full of little historical nuggets, many of which I' never heard of before, such as the French invasion of parts of Northern Italy at the end of World War 2. Which was only halted and reversed when Truman personally intervened and shamed the French into retreating to the pre-war border.

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It is an excellent book and all I can say to Auld Yin is thank you.

Five out of Five mushroom heads.
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