Truman in the White House: The Diary of Eben A. Ayers

Overview

As assistant press secretary to President Harry S. Truman, Eben A. Ayers brought with him twenty-six years of experience as a newspaperman.  He knew when he had a good story and knew how to record it.  His private diary, which he kept unbeknownst to his associates, tells the inside story of the Truman White House clearly, colorfully, and with an acute sense of history.

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Overview

As assistant press secretary to President Harry S. Truman, Eben A. Ayers brought with him twenty-six years of experience as a newspaperman.  He knew when he had a good story and knew how to record it.  His private diary, which he kept unbeknownst to his associates, tells the inside story of the Truman White House clearly, colorfully, and with an acute sense of history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An unusual glimpse inside the Oval Office, the Ayers diary is a valuable tool for studying the Truman presidency."—Journal of American History

"The work is a huge diary of the years 1945 through 1950 and contains some wonderful quotes like HST's I don't want power. It means nothing to me.' We learn how the president hated Charles De Gaulle, among many others. We don't have the likes of a Truman around now, and one appreciates that more looking at this Herculean work."—USA Today

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Ayers, who was assistant White House press secretary from 1945 through most of 1950, begins his voluminous diary with the words ``President Roosevelt died today.'' Here he describes the confusion and uncertainty of the White House as the new president organized his administration and oversaw the conclusion of the war in Europe and Asia. Ayers offers no major revelations on such issues of the day as the unification of the armed services, labor conflicts, the Korean War. Instead, the considerable attraction of the diary (edited to one-quarter of its original length) lies in his portrait of Harry S. Truman in a casual mode--playing poker, having a drink with cronies and tossing off such remarks as ``I don't want power. It means nothing to me.'' We learn the names of those on Truman's ``s-t list'' and of men he regarded as ``a s. of a b.'' (most prominent is Charles de Gaulle). Ayers emphasizes the president's tendency to shoot from the hip during press conferences and the staff's struggle to repair the damage that sometimes resulted. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Ayers served as assistant press secretary to President Truman from 1945 to 1950. He kept a private diary of his activities, including a record of daily White House staff meetings. Presidential scholar Ferrell excerpts a quarter of the half-million-word journal for publication, with concise annotations to provide historical context. The diary illuminates Truman's thoughts on the events and individuals that dominated this turbulent period, as well as the character and opinions of his closest advisors. While Ayers can be critical of Truman and other members of his administration, he is largely sympathetic toward the President, and a warm relationship between the two is evident throughout the diary. The work covers familiar territory and produces little new information, but its perspective and readable style recommend it to academic and large public libraries.--Stephen L. Hupp, Capital Univ. Lib., Columbus, Ohio
Booknews
As assistant press secretary to President Truman, Ayers brought with him 26 years of experience as a journalist. His voluminous private diary is here excerpted and annotated, providing an intimate portrait of Truman and the events of his administration. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826207906
  • Publisher: University of Missouri Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/1991
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert H. Ferrell is Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus at Indiana University, Bloomington.  He is the author and editor of many books, most recently Truman:  A Centenary Remembrance, Woodrow Wilson and World War I, and Banners in the Air.

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