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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Truman (audiobook) by David McCullough



Published by  Simon and Schuster Audio in 1992.
Read by David McCullough, the author
Includes parts of recordings of speeches by Harry S. Truman and Douglas MacArthur
Duration: approximately 6 hours
Abridged

Harry S. Truman (1884-1972)
While I am a world history teacher, my favorite times in American history are the Revolutionary War Era, the Civil War Era and an interest in the Frontier as it moved across the United States. While I knew a great deal about Truman before listening to this audiobook, I really felt that I needed to know more.

David McCullough's treatment of Truman is friendly, but not overly rosy. The audiobook version I listened to was abridged. I assume that the areas that were not focused upon in the abridged edition are more fleshed out in the unabridged edition. (Note: this abridgement was not sloppily done - I didn't even notice it was abridged until about 3/4 of the way through the book - it just seemed like he was glossing over the activities of the New Deal Congress rather quicker than normal)

David McCullough
Areas of particular focus in the abridged edition include Truman's family background and childhood. His World War I experiences, early political jobs, his association with Kansas City machine politics, Bess (of course!), his mother, how he was chosen to be Vice President, the decision to drop the atomic bombs, the Korean War, the decision to fire MacArthur and eulogies for Truman.

The printed version of this book includes pictures, I am sure, which is a disadvantage of the audio version. However, that deficiency is more than made up for by the inclusion of real audiotaped quotes from Truman himself when possible. It is one thing to see a picture of Harry Truman, it is quite another to hear sections of his speeches in Truman's own voice - the way most Americans did at the time when they were delivered. It gives you a different sense of the man. A section of MacArthur's "Old Soldiers Fade Away" speech is also included, to the detriment of MacArthur, in my opinion. He sounds very snobbish and patrician. When compared to Truman, it makes you root for the Man from Independence all the more.

A second strength of the audiobook is that it is read by the author himself. McCullough has a voice that I envy and enjoy to hear and he makes even the most slowest portions of the book flow by quickly and easily.

Bravo!

Find this edition at Amazon.com here: Truman.

I give this audiobook 5 stars out of 5.

Reviewed on February 3, 2007.

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