Proclaiming the Truman Doctrine: The Cold War Call to Arms

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With these words, Harry S. Truman announced a profound shift in U.S. foreign policy toward the Soviet Union, from a position of strained alliance to one of containment. Many historians have traced the beginning of the Cold War to this decisive speech and its policy aftermath.

Now, Denise M. Bostdorff considers President Truman's March 12, 1947 address to a joint session of Congress in its rhetorical, political, personal, and historical context. She focuses on the public and private language that influenced administration perceptions about the precipitating events in Greece and Turkey and explores the news management campaign that set the stage for Truman's speech. Bostdorff even examines how the president's health may have influenced his policy decision and how it affected his delivery of the address and campaign for congressional approval.

After a rhetorical analysis of the Truman Doctrine speech, the book ends with Bostdorff's conclusions on its near- and long-term impact. She identifies themes announced by Truman that resound in U.S. foreign policy down to the present day, when George W. Bush has compared his policies in the war on terror to those of Truman, and members of his administration have compared Bush to Truman.

This important work is a major contribution to scholarship on the presidency, political science, and public rhetoric.

About the Author:
Denise M. Bostdorff is a professor of communication at The College of Wooster. She is the author of The Presidency and the Rhetoric of Foreign Crisis and is also a contributor to two volumes in Texas A&M University Press's Presidential Rhetoric Series. Her Ph.D. is from Purdue University

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Editorial Reviews

Emeritus - Robert P. Newman
"The writing style, organization, coverage of how the speech came to be written, and the depth of coverage of the immediate reactions to the speech are excellent…makes a contribution to understanding the origins of the cold war."—Robert P. Newman professor emeritus, Department of Communication, University of Pittsburgh; author of Truman and the Hiroshima Cult
"The book is well written and makes a modest contribution to the literature." -CHOICE
Robert H. Ferrell

This talented author has written the first full-length rhetorical analysis of the most important document produced by the Truman Administration. . . . And she has done it the proper way. . . . This is the book on the subject. (Robert H. Ferrell, author of Harry S. Truman: A Life)


"The book is well written and makes a modest contribution to the literature." -CHOICE

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781603440349
  • Publisher: Texas A&M University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2008
  • Series: Library of Presidential Rhetoric Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 206
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

DENISE M. BOSTDORFF is a professor of communication at The College of Wooster (Ohio). She is the author of The Presidency and the Rhetoric of Foreign Crisis and is also a contributor to two volumes in Texas A&M University Press’s Presidential Rhetoric Series. Her Ph.D. is from Purdue University.

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Table of Contents

Special Message to the Congress on Greece and Turkey: Wednesday, March 12, 1947, 1:00 P.M. 1

1 Prelude to Cold War Crisis 9

2 Turning Points, 1945-47 16

3 The Campaign Begins: Advance Work of Congressional Consultation and News Management 61

4 Opportunity through Threat: The Evolution and Crisis Promotion of the Truman Doctrine Speech 91

5 Reflections on the Truman Doctrine Speech 134

Notes 153

Bibliography 175

Index 187

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