Hailed by critics as an American masterpiece, David McCullough's sweeping biography of Harry S. Truman captured the heart of the nation. The life and times of the thirty-third President of the United States, Truman provides a deeply moving look at an extraordinary, singular American.
From Truman's small-town, turn-of-the-century boyhood and his transforming experience in the face of war in 1918, to his political beginnings in the powerful Pendergast machine and his rapid rise to prominence in the U.S. Senate, McCullough shows a man of uncommon vitality and strength of character. Here too is a telling account of Truman's momentous decision to use the atomic bomb and the weighty responsibilities that he was forced to confront on the dawning of a new age.
Distinguished historian and Pulitzer-Prize-winning author David McCullough tells one of the greatest American stories in this stirring audio adaptation of Truman -- a compelling, classic portrait of a life that shaped history.
  • Simon & Schuster Audio | 
  • ISBN 9780743519700 | 
  • December 1992
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Reading Group Guide

David McCullough

Questions and Topics For Discussion 

  1. Harry S. Truman was born on May 8, 1884.  Nearly twenty years prior, Anderson Truman freed his five slaves, Hannah, Marge, and their three daughters in Leavenworth, Kansas.  Later on, a keeper of the family would conclude that the Truman's never owned slaves.  Since owning slaves was a relatively accepted practice in the Confederacy, why would someone think to rewrite history?  How would you describe the turning point in the American social consciousness over slavery?  Why do you think it took so long for someone to stand up to Jim Crow, even after the senseless killing of nine African-Americans?  How does history influence what lives are valuable within the consciousness of a society?  What other factors are at play?
  2. Truman's boyhood was shaped by deeply instilled values.  Often eager to please and a "bookworm" Truman was the perfect child.  Even at such an early age, Truman displayed a love for politics.  What values did Truman hold that would later make him an outstanding politician?  A significant part of Truman's moral character was reinforced by his education. Do you think that a similar education should be taught in today's public schools?  If so, how?
  3. Truman was a farmer, even though farmers were discouraged to fight, he felt it was his duty to serve in the war in Europ
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Articles About This Book


Posted on Off the Shelf

Posted by Elaine Wilson

David McCullough has the gift of making any historical event fascinating and relatable. Through his vivid portraits of the larger-than-life personalities and events that have shaped our nation, McCullough offers an entertaining and informative...

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About the Author

David McCullough
Photograph by William B. McCullough

David McCullough

David McCullough has twice received the Pulitzer Prize, for Truman and John Adams, and twice received the National Book Award, for The Path Between the Seas and Mornings on Horseback. His other acclaimed books include The Greater Journey, 1776, Brave Companions, The Johnstown Flood, The Great Bridge, and The Wright Brothers. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. Visit