Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Memoirs by Harry S. Truman, Vol. One (5)

Year of Decisions. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc. 1955.

Why Read It? Truman had to end the war, decide on the atomic bomb and then shift to a peacetime economy in which he had to fight a Cold War with the Soviets, fight the Korean War, battle through labor troubles and to remind everyone of the necessity to maintain civilian control of the military through relieving MacArthur of his command. Although he appeared to be a normal U.S. citizen, he was anything but. His character was almost the ideal of a U.S. President. His decisions were well thought out and decisive. He was well known for his plain spokenness.

“Churchill climaxed this appeal to  Stalin by painting a picture of what the world might be like if divided into two camps…. ‘It is quite obvious that their quarrel would tear the world to pieces….’ ‘But do not, I beg you, friend Stalin, underrate the divergences which are opening about matters which you may think are small to us, but which are symbolic of the way the English-speaking democracies look at life.’ ” p. 109. ………. “Among the many burdensome duties and responsibilities of a President, I soon experienced the constant pressure and necessity of making immediate decisions.” p. 111. ………. “The glasses were a great help in seeing but a great handicap in playing. I was so carefully cautioned by the eye doctor about breaking my glasses and injuring my eyes that I was afraid to join in the rough-and-tumble games in the schoolyard and the back lot.” p. 116. ………. “My time was spent in reading, and by the time I was thirteen or fourteen years old, I had read all the books in the Independence Public Library and our big old Bible three times through.” p. 116. ………. “…an English teacher, Miss Tillie Brown, who was a genius at making us appreciate good literature. She also made us want to read it.” p. 118. ………. “My debt to [the study of] history…for my awakening interest as a young lad in the principles of leadership and government.” p. 119. ………. “In school, history was taught by paragraphs. Each great event in history was written up in one paragraph. I made it my business to look up the background of these events to find out who brought them about.” p. 119. ………. “I wanted to know what caused the successes or the failures of all the famous leaders of history.” p. 119. ………. “…a leader is a man who has the ability to get other people to do what they don’t want to and like it.” p. 119.

To be continued.

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