Beth's Reviews > Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip

Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure by Matthew Algeo
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's review
Jun 16, 2010

really liked it
Read from May 04 to June 16, 2010

This was a fun book. It describes the road trip that Harry Truman and his wife, Bess, took in 1953 from their home in Independence, MO to Washington, DC, Philadelphia & New York City. The trip was undertaken in the year after Truman lost his reelection bid to Eisenhower. Truman was a great car lover and he was "given" (he probably paid $1 for it) a brand new Chrysler by the company which was used for the trip. Harry & Bess tried very hard to travel "incognito," but they kept being discovered by regular citizens and were often followed by the press and local police who took it upon themselves to provide security for the couple. The Trumans traveled on their own, without any Secret Service agents (this was in the days before ex-presidents were given security details). The down-to-earth Truman revelled in traveling and staying at local hotels/motels and eating in diners and cafes. He also seemed to enjoy the attention he received and was encouraged by the public's reception of him after his election defeat (he finished up his presidency with only a 22% approval rating). The book not only focuses on the Trumans, but brings to life 1950s America (the Rosenberg trial, McCarthyism, the Korean War, the KKK). There are cameo appearances from many big names (Herbert Hoover, Richard Nixon, etc.). When the Trumans arrive on the East Coast they are offered deluxe accommodations gratis at top hotels (Waldorf=Astoria, Mayflower). Truman left the White House with just a small Army pension (less than $150 a month) and struggled financially for many years before ex-presidents were awarded pensions. The author retraces the Truman's trip as faithfully as possible and interjects many interesting anecdotes and trivia to the story for a very charming book.
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