Thursday, April 29, 2010

Memooirs by Harry S. Truman, Vol. One (6).

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.

“I saw it takes men to make history or there would be no history. History does not make the man.” p. 120. ………. “Especially in reading the history of American presidents did I become aware of the value of knowing what has gone before.” p. 120. ………. “I learned of General McClellan, who traded his leadership for demagoguery and eventually defied his commander in chief. and was interested to learn how President Lincoln dealt with an insubordinate general. These lessons were to stand me in good stead years later when I was to be confronted with similar problems.” p. 120. ………. “I learned of the unique problems of Andrew Johnson, whose destiny it was to be thrust suddenly into the Presidency to fill the shoes of one of history’s great leaders. When the same thing happened to me,, I knew just how Johnson had coped with his problems, and I did not make the mistakes he made.” p. 120. ………. “History taught me about the periodic waves of hysteria which started with the witch craze, the Alien and Sedition Acts…the Know-Nothing movement…the anti-Masonic…anti-Catholicism movements…the Ku Klux Klan…the Red Scare of 1919. When the cycle repeated  itself during my administration in the form of anti-communist hysteria and indiscriminate branding of innocent persons as subversives, I could deal with the situation calmly because I knew something about its background… When we are faced with a situation, we must know how to apply the lessons of history in a practical way.” p. 120.

To be continued.

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