Americans are not shy about letting politicians know what’s on their minds, and, in Harry Truman, they believed that they had a president they could level with. He even sometimes responded personally to them—especially on subjects he felt strongly about.
Today, it seems remarkable that a man who described the presidency as “the most awesome job in the world” would take the time to read and respond to White House mail.Truman, however, had an unquenchable thirst for what his “everyday Americans” were thinking, yet distrusted opinion polls. For him, the daily stack of mail provided the next best poll after the voting booth.
Authors Giangreco and Moore include a robust cross section of the thousands of messages sent to Truman. Juxtaposed with informative background essays, these letters provide an undiluted account of the greatest challenges confronting the U.S. during Truman’s administration, including civil rights, the Marshall Plan, the formation of Israel, the atomic bomb, the McCarthy hearings, the Korean War, and the General McArthur’s dismissal, which alone solicited more than 90,000 missives. While the majority of the letters are from private citizens, others come from correspondents, the occasional bombastic senator, and a few from the world figures.