The Accidental President: Harry S. Truman and the Four Months That Changed the World

Written by A. J. Baime
Review by Mike Ashworth

Many thousands of words have been written about the Presidency of Harry S. Truman. This remarkable book is an intimate biographical portrait about his first four months in office. This short period of time saw, amongst other things, the founding of the United Nations, the dropping of the first atomic bomb, the end of the Second World War, and the beginning of the Cold War. It was a baptism of fire for a man who had never had enough money to own his own home, governed a state or even served as a mayor of a city.

The book is tightly focused and meticulously researched. It covers his early political career, before moving on to the reasons why he was chosen for the office of Vice President. The political manoeuvrings leading up to his election are dealt with factually, without unnecessary comment, and the reader is given a fascinating insight into Truman’s character and motivations throughout the book. This is very readable and will appeal to history geeks and general readers alike. It is an absorbing look at a period of time which still resonates today. Recommended.