Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Truman” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.12  ·  Rating details ·  73,926 ratings  ·  2,164 reviews
An alternate cover edition of this ISBN can be found here.

The Pulitzer Prize–winning biography of Harry S. Truman, whose presidency included momentous events from the atomic bombing of Japan to the outbreak of the Cold War and the Korean War, told by America’s beloved and distinguished historian.

The life of Harry S. Truman is one of the greatest of American stories, filled
Hardcover, 992 pages
Published June 15th 1992 by Simon Schuster
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Truman, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Truman

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.12  · 
Rating details
 ·  73,926 ratings  ·  2,164 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Truman
AJ Griffin
Jul 02, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with fantastic attention spans, lots of time, and at least a slight interest in the subject
For some reason or another, I had to read this book in 3 days. It was like a full time job, considering it's about 3284293842034820384238 pages long. I did it though, and for about two months or so I was a motherfucking Harry Truman expert. Then I forgot almost everything.

Anyway, if you want seem like a history encyclopedia for a little while, take a three-day weekend and rip this bad boy open. Maybe you'll get laid.

(one word of caution: reading this gave me the temerity to say "mcarthur was a
Elyse  Walters
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes I even laughed......
Cheers for the late bloomers in life!!! A man after my own heart!!!

Harry's cousin said Harry was 'always' a late bloomer. He did everything a little later than his contemporaries.
He didn't marry until he was, why would it be crazy to him to first arrive in Washington in his early 50's?

"Harry is a fine man, intelligent, able, and has integrity. He doesn't know much about foreign affairs, but he's learning fast..." --Franklin D Roosevelt

This book gets the
Aug 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I was shocked that a presidential biography could be so good. Many readers had praised the Truman book, but I thought they were exaggerating. I was happy to be proven wrong.

I think there are several reasons why "Truman" was so compelling. First and most importantly was the man himself. So epic was his odyssey that Truman seemed like a character in a novel. Harry S. Truman was born in a small town in Missouri and he grew up on a farm. He was bookish, played the piano and wore glasses, which
Excellent read for lining up all the threads of a great leader's life in a narrative that flows like the story from a novel. Even at 1,000 pages, so much history passed through Truman's hands that major events such as the decision to bomb Hiroshima and the Korean War have to slip by with only a few pages. What comes through as a thread in the whole tapestry is the fundamental decency of the man, a pragmatism typical of farmers who face diverse challenges day by day, and a core belief in fairness ...more
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ETA: I adored this book when I read it, but now my perspectives are a bit changed....... I am currently reading American Prometheus by Kai Bird. It is essential to get another view on Truman's actions and choices concerning atomic weapons, the arms race and the Cold War. To get a fuller understanding of the time and era I strongly recommend reading American Prometheus too!


I listened to the audiobook format of this book, that means more than 54 hours, and I
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Few presidents have made as many pivotal decisions or faced the number of history-changing events as Harry Truman -- the final five months of World War II, the Potsdam conference, the birth of atomic warfare, the post-war nationwide rail strike, the Marshall Plan, the partition of Palestine and the creation of Israel, the Czechoslovak coup d'etat, the Berlin Airlift, war in Korea and the relief of Douglas MacArthur, the formation of NATO, the reorganization of the U.S. defense establishment and ...more
Feb 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
David McCullough is a master, plain and simple. Who else could make a 992 page paperback biography compulsively readable? I knew essentially nothing about Harry Truman before reading this biography, and now I think he might be my favorite president. Truly a man of the people, who never let the highest office in the country go to his head, Truman made difficult decisions that would have crippled other men within the first four months of his presidency. While not all of his policies were popular ...more
Lynne King
Apr 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biographies
I see that Steve has recently given a marvellous, in-depth review of this splendid biography on Harry S. Truman’s life that I purchased way back on 30 October 1992 (I always date my books for reference) and so I won't even attempt to write a review such as his but then I probably wouldn't have been capable of doing that anyway. This after all is American history.

I had forgotten that I had this book but I had been browsing through another goodreads' author’s books (I always do this if they "like"
Lisa Greer
Feb 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs, everyone
Oh, yes, I am ambitious. This book must be 1000 pages. It's huge... and interesting so far. And it won a Pulitzer. I'm reading it because McCullough's bio of John Adams made me bawl like a baby when I got near the end. I mean-- how can one not cry upon reading about Adams and Jefferson BOTH living until and dying on July 4th, the same July 4th, out of sheer will? I wish more Americans and people in general knew these stories and of these people rather than just knowing a lot of fiction. And I do ...more
Mikey B.
Nov 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A good and complete biography of Truman. David McCullough describes well the political events surrounding the era and his climb to power – which was gradual but well earned. Truman was only two years younger than Roosevelt but in far better health. He was a vastly different person more prone to indiscretions. Even so he survived well in a turbulent era - the end of World War II, taking the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan, the commencement of the Cold War, the creation of the state of ...more
Jul 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
McCullough tackles a political biography sure to reveal much to the reader. For many, Harry Truman is “the president who dropped the bomb” and little else. Any reader who takes the time to digest all that is on offer (a great feat for those who first look at the length of the tome) will soon learn that Truman is much more complex than first presumed. McCullough chooses key moments in Truman’s life and expounds on them, one building off the other, leading to a better understanding of why Truman ...more
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

“Truman” is David McCullough’s 1992 biography of the 33rd president. It was the first comprehensive biography of Truman and earned the 1993 Pulitzer Prize in the Biography category. McCullough is a highly-acclaimed author and historian who is probably best known for his 2001 biography of John Adams. He is currently working on a book about the early settlers of the Northwest Territory tentatively titled “The Pioneers.”

True to its reputation, this biography
RJ Corby
Feb 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a brilliant book about one of our finest

David McCullough's "Truman" has won many accolades and awards, chief among them the Pulitzer Prize. After reading this wonderful book from cover-to-cover in less than a week, I'm convinced that this book deserves all of the praise it has received, and more.

"Truman" is the ultimate, complete package in a presidential biography. Even a novice of 20th century history (this writer included) would have a list of important events that he or she would
Sep 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I am 65 years old. I have spent my whole life thinking that politics was stupid and not worth knowing anything about; that even in a democracy, politics and therefore government offered no solution to the troubles of mankind. Now I have to eat at least some of my words and admit that as an American it is important for me to have a glimmering of how politics works. That is what reading this endless biography about Truman did for me.

I read it, in part, as research for my memoir. Harry S Truman was
This was quite a book, written by quite an author about quite a man. I was totally over the top in my admiration for both Mr Truman as well as David McCullough. What a job he did bringing Harry S. Truman to life for generations to come. To read about Mr Truman made one feel proud and fortunate. Our country was so lucky to have had a man like Mr Truman in control of our government during this, a most unnerving time of our history.

Harry Truman's downhome goodness and ability to see matters in a
Erin Hepner
Jan 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History nuts and Politicos, and anyone interested in very detailed portraits of lives.
With the elections coming up, I think it is important for everyone to take a good look at what a presidency is all about. This book was particularily interesting to me, because the author is so detail-oriented, you really get a perfect sense of where this man came from, and how he came to be the leader of the free world at that time.

We have to remember that the people in the history books were once just 'real men', with flaws, dreams, and families. Sometimes it's not all policy and hogwash;
Dec 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
McCullough’s engaging portrayal of Harry Truman depicts a man of integrity, a trait rare in politicians. As president, his simple straightforward approach often led to extreme unpopularity. His inexperience and initial indecisiveness took its toll. But Harry Truman’s best quality as Clark Clifford noted, “was Harry Truman’s capacity to grow.” Thrust into a job for which he was ill prepared, Truman overcame his shortcomings working through an onslaught of difficult problems to provide genuine ...more
Peter Beck
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Truman" is like a balm to the soul given the endless sewage spewing from Trump and his sycophants. Honesty, modesty, loyalty, diligence, and thoughtfulness are the first first words that come to mind to describe HST after reading "Truman." How I miss those qualities in a president.

After struggling through the first chapter on Harry's family background, I found "Truman" hard to put down. David McCullough is such a great writer and has the sources to back him up. I grew up hearing my father
Jun 21, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lifted from my review at
While it's Ok for a historian to like the subject of the biography, he should not love him. David McCullough likes Harry Truman a bit too much. As a result he seldom takes a critical view of Truman's Presidency, politics or personal life. This is disappointing given that Harry Truman was the President at probably the key juncture of twentieth century - the end of War World II and the beginning of the Cold War. More time is spent describing the whistle-stop
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Epic in size and scope, I could do nothing less than give five stars to Truman, the man, the president, and the book. Like McCullough’s John Adams, the author has weaved together a biography like few others, utilizing mountains of papers both personal and political to re-create the life of a truly unique president. Beyond cradle-to-grave, Truman begins in frontier times when Kentucky was still the West, decades before the birth of Harry’s father. Then it stretches past his life to unfold his ...more
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
'' 'Harry, don't you sometimes feel overwhelmed by your job?' he had been asked by Republican Senator Tobey of New Hampshire, and Truman had stepped to the globe and turning it slowly said, 'All the world is focusing on this office. The nearest thing to my heart is to do something to keep the world at peace. We must find a way to peace, or else civilization will be destroyed and the world will turn back to the year 900.' ''

Ambitious in scale, widely researched, McCullough's 992 pages long
Been quite an undertaking to read this huge book but who would have thought that a 992 page political biography could be so fascinating.
Before starting this, all I knew about Harry Truman was that he was the president who took over from FDR at the end of WW2 and made the decision to use the atomic bomb. But if you google rankings of US presidents, he ranks very high (top 10)so I was intrigued to find out why that was.

It is hard to think of a book that I have learnt more from - I now know how he
Christopher Saunders
David McCullough's Truman takes an exhaustive, commendably objective look at America's 33rd President. Despite its length (over 1,000 pages!) it's consistently compelling thanks to McCullough's engaging writing style, chronicling Truman's rise from small-town Missouri to the Presidency with verve and excitement. What impressed me most was how willing McCullough to analyze Truman's faults and failures (a marked turn from John Adams, where he seemed eager to airbrush his subject). Truman's ...more
Fred Bomer
Jan 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinated by the detail and Mr. McCullough's ability to transport me back to the time period. Additionally, I am developing a tremendous respect for Mr. Truman's civility and dedication to "correctness" and his tremendous respect for others. -

Time well spent - Excellent book in detail, narrative and storyline! I have really enjoyed this book and recommend it toanyone wanting both historical infomation and an understanding o the unchanging nature of Politics!!!
Jun 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club-books
I finished Truman!! It took me a month, but at 992 pages of text and over 120 pages of notes I think I did well.

This is another 5 star book from one of my favorite authors. It ranks up there with his book John Adams, and I can certainly understand why it received the Pulitzer Prize.

The book covers an astonishing array of subjects, Truman's heritage and childhood, his work as a farmer, his shaky rise as a senator and vice president, his astonishing first days as president, the atom bomb, dealings
Aubrey Dustin
Mar 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Harry S. Truman inherited the presidency upon the death of one of the most popular presidents in history, Franklin D. Roosevelt, during the climax of one of America’s greatest struggles. He made the difficult decisions that brought World War II to a close with the bang of nuclear power. He propelled George C. Marshall, the nation’s best, but least known, General, to the success that won him a Nobel Peace Prize and fired the nation’s best known general, Douglas MacArthur, for the insubordination ...more
Oct 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
Certainly one of the best Presidential Biographies I've read, and I've read many.

I probably started this book in 1994. I used it in research for many papers in college, and by the time I graduated really felt like I'd "read" it.

When I discovered Goodreads 7 years ago, I realized that I had only chronologically gotten Truman up to WWI. However, even the invention of Kindle failed to get it very high up my priority list. Therefore, when I discovered Audible, I knew Truman should be one of my
Jan 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, human biography of the self-underrated president who led the U.S. during a period of unimaginable change and danger. McCullough writes wonderfully, with a dramatist's flair but without gilding the lily whatsoever. This is a richly rewarding experience for history buffs and anyone interested in great biography.
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
"We cannot know what verdict history will pronounce upon [the Truman record], but we can make a pretty good guess. It will perhaps record the curious paradox that a man charged with being “soft" on communism has done more than any other leader in the western world, with the exception of Churchill, to contain communism; that a man charged with mediocrity has launched a whole series of far sighted plans for world reconstruction; that a man accused of being an enemy to private enterprise has been ...more
Corinne Apezteguia
The only thing I knew about Harry Truman before reading this book was a recollection of the famous picture of him holding up a newspaper that read "Dewey Defeats Truman."

I am amazed at Truman's hard work, integrity, and love of people. He wasn't perfect, of course, but there is much in this book to inspire. I never fully understood his contributions to the post-WWII world, such as the Marshall Plan, the Truman doctrine, containment of atomic bomb, containment of the Cold War, or his courageous
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Around the Year i...: Truman, by David McCullough 3 17 May 08, 2017 03:57PM  
Truman by David McCullough 6 38 Dec 30, 2016 01:58PM  
Film adaptation 1 17 Aug 12, 2016 06:36PM  
Audiobooks: The Most Expensive Audiobook 22 2053 Aug 11, 2014 12:33PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II
  • Colonel Roosevelt
  • Means of Ascent (The Years of Lyndon Johnson, #2)
  • Losing My Virginity: How I've Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way
  • Steve Jobs
  • Eisenhower in War and Peace
  • Parting the Waters: Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement 1954-63
  • The Passage of Power (The Years of Lyndon Johnson, #4)
  • American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964
  • A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House
  • Eisenhower: Soldier and President
  • The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization
  • Grant
  • Einstein: His Life and Universe
  • Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable
  • The Making of the President 1960
  • Woodrow Wilson: A Biography
  • Benjamin Franklin: An American Life
See similar books…
David McCullough is a Yale-educated, two-time recipient of both the Pulitzer Prize (Truman; John Adams) and the National Book Award (The Path Between the Seas; Mornings on Horseback). His many other highly-acclaimed works of historical non-fiction include The Greater Journey, 1776, Brave Companions, The Great Bridge, The Wright Brothers, and The Johnstown Flood. He has been honored with the ...more
“He loved politics in large part exactly because it meant time spent with men like Cactus Jack Garner(who would be remembered for observing that the vice presidency was not worth a pitcher of warm piss).” 4 likes
“He wasn’t a hero, or an original thinker. His beliefs were their beliefs, their way of talking was his way of talking. He was on their side. He was one of them. If he stumbled over a phrase or a name, he would grin and try again, and they would smile with” 4 likes
More quotes…