The Washington columnist Mary McGrory once wrote, " Since Harry Truman left town almost nobody has spoken his mind. Mr. Truman took the tradition of plain speaking back to Missouri with him."
Fortunately for history, Merle Miller followed. In the early 1960s, as preparation for a ill-fated series of television series, Miller talked in complete frankness with the former president for hundreds of hours over several months. He also interviewed many people who had been close to Truman from his childhood in Independence, Missouri through his years in Washington. While the television programs never materialized, the book Miller composed from his unprecedented conversations offers an intimate and riveting portrait of one of America's most remarkable presidents, illuminating Truman's early political career and surprising path to the White House, as well as the critical events and momentous decisions that shaped his years in power. The subject's candid comments on the characters of Douglas MacArthur, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon and others add a feisty edge to the reflections and opinions that enliven this rich, revealing book. All in all, this is a rare, human, and often very funny evocation of the life and times of an American president.
A combat correspondent during World War II, Merle Miller went on to write several novels, including What Happened and A Gay and Melancholy Sound, as well as bestselling oral biographies of Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson. He died in 1986 at the age of 67.
"This is the most refreshing book that has ever been written about an American president."
—The Christian Science Monitor
"In one of Miller's best interviews, Dean Acheson says of Mr. Truman, 'I . . . consider him one of the most extraordinary human beings who ever lived.' Miller's portrait, in its homey detail and unequaled candor, makes that claim stick."
—Walter Clemons, Newsweek