"Robert Moskin's volume chronicles the first five months of Harry Truman's presidency, encompassing not only the destruction and defeat of the Axis Powers in Germany and Japan, but also the dropping of the first atomic bombs, the birth of the United Nations, the death of colonialism, and the beginning of the Cold War." From the summons to FDR's deathbed early on the morning of April 2, 1945, through the Japanese surrender on the deck of the USS Missouri, Moskin tracks this unexpected president through some of the most uncertain and trying times in our nation's life. A former Missouri farmer and county commissioner known by his trademark bow tie and steel-rimmed glasses, Truman had little experience in international affairs, having become vice president via a purely political compromise only five months earlier.
A riveting story of war and peace. . . . Popular history at its best.
Wall Street Journal
A notable achievement in making a complex—and crucial—period of history accessible to the ordinary reader.
- Publisher's Weekly
With the haberdasher turned head of state as his focus, Moskin (The U.S. Marine Corps Story) offers a theme-driven, journalistic account of the period between FDR's death and Japan's unconditional surrenderfive months in 1945 when "the world changed forever." Moskin regards WWII, rather than the Civil War, as the defining event in U.S. history, and perceives the transition from war to peace as the decisive stage in that event. The destruction of the Axis, the beginnings of the Cold War and the nuclear age, the end of colonialismall occurred at that time, with Truman, according to the author, personally responsible for the crucial decisions that shaped final victory and structured the postwar world. Moskin's insistence on the critical nature of these five months, and on the centrality of Truman's role, seems overstated. Many historians contend that the outlines of the postwar system were well established by 1945. Truman himself entertained few illusions of being a world-historical figure and sought consensus whenever possible on major issues, such as the sharing of nuclear information. Moskin's dependence, judging from his notes, on published sources and memoirs apparently often leads him to take ex post facto reconstructions at face value, and to portray such events as the Potsdam Conference and the decision to drop the bomb as simpler than they were. Even so, he provides entertaining history here, as well as an impressive, detailed introduction to a complex period. Photographs. Author tour. (July)
When President Roosevelt died in 1945, Vice President Harry S Truman was meeting with House Speaker Sam Rayburn on Capitol Hill. He was in such a rush to get back to the White House that he left his Secret Service detachment behind. Hours later he began to deal with Churchill, Stalin, and de Gaulle to win the war and shape the postwar world. In five short months, Truman faced more difficult and more world-altering decisions than any other president before him. Truman came off a Missouri farm and a county political job to decide global issues that would change humankind's future. Moskin (The U.S. Marine Corps Story, Little, Brown, 1992) provides rich detail of this brief period but assumes the reader has extensive knowledge of World War II. Still, this short but eventful period is covered more thoroughly than in David McCullough's Truman (LJ 6/1/92). Recommended for World War II collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/1/96.]Michael Coleman, Regional Lib. for Blind and Physically Handicapped, Montgomery, Ala.