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Memoirs, by Harry S. Truman. Volume One: Year of Decisions

- Abstract

Harry Truman is entitled to a high rank in the roster of American presidents—not, of course, with the half-dozen great figures, but certainly on a level with Monroe or Polk or Cleveland. Once he had fully grasped the meaning of the Soviet threat, he provided effective leadership in a transformation of American foreign policy that was even more fundamental and far-reaching than our abandonment of isolation during the Roosevelt administration. Coming from the border-state region that had produced three 19th-century presidents, he resembled all of them in his combativeness, his outspoken integrity, and his deep-rooted belief in democratic ideals, while he was also capable of displaying some of Jackson’s vindictiveness against personal enemies, some of Polk’s wrong-headed obstinacy, and on a few deplorable occasions the lack of dignity and tact that was the ruin of Andrew Johnson. While he was sometimes stubbornly wrong on minor issues, especially where personal friendships were involved, he could meet major responsibilities boldly and decisively, as was shown by the Truman Doctrine, the formation of NATO, and the Korean war.

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