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Book review: 'Citizen Soldier: A Life of Harry S. Truman' by Aida D. Donald

Readers who want a concise book about an improbable president, who became one of the nation's most revered, should buy or borrow “Citizen Soldier: A Life of Harry S. Truman.”
BY DENNIE HALL Published: December 2, 2012

Those who want a concise book about an improbable president who became one of the nation's most revered should read “Citizen Soldier: A Life of Harry S. Truman” (Basic Books, $26.99).

Writer Aida D. Donald tells of Truman's impoverished early life and his good times and bad until his death at 88 in 1972. Of the 44 presidents, he often is considered by today's historians to rank in the top half-dozen. The simple man from Missouri was vice president when he was thrust into the presidency upon Franklin D. Roosevelt's death in 1945.

The author details the complicated world following World War II and the many challenges Truman faced. The stress affected Truman's health and married life, but he and his beloved Bess stuck through it. Donald mentions the often-told story of how the couple got so involved in lovemaking that the bed collapsed. (The Blair House servants should have been too discreet to tell that.)

When Truman sought election in 1948, the pundits predicted he wouldn't have a chance. He waged a hard-fought race and emerged the victor. The author's candid appraisals of some of the public figures of the time add spice.

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