Podcast #424: How Harry Truman Handled Being Out of His Depth

Have you ever been put in a situation that you weren’t ready for at all, but somehow managed to rise to the occasion and do what needed to be done? Imagine being Harry Truman. He grew up a poor farmer’s son in Jackson County, Missouri, didn’t graduate from college, failed at multiple businesses, and stumbled into politics, before being thrust into the role of the world’s most powerful man and required to make monumental decisions that would affect the course of history over the next 70 years.

Today on the show, I talk to writer A.J. Baime about his book The Accidental President that highlights the unexpected rise of Harry Truman to commander-in-chief. We discuss how an unassuming, nerdy-looking fella commanded the respect of fellow soldiers during World War I, how Truman became Vice President under FDR, how he felt when Roosevelt died and he had to assume the presidency, and how he managed his self-doubt and insecurities after taking up residence in the White House.

Show Highlights

  • What was Truman’s early life and young adulthood like?
  • Truman’s WWI experience 
  • Truman’s political education in Missouri, and why his reputation was slightly tarnished going into office
  • His unlikely path to the US Senate 
  • What life was like here in the US during WWII 
  • How Harry Truman fell into the 1944 Vice President nomination
  • Why Truman was kept out of the loop about the war effort 
  • What goes through Truman’s mind when he learns of FDR’s death?
  • The advice Truman received from his mom upon becoming president 
  • How did the nation react to FDR’s death?
  • Truman’s decision making in using the atomic bomb 
  • The world-changing events of the first 4 months of Truman’s presidency
  • What every man can learn from Truman’s experience of being unexpectedly thrust into the most powerful position in the world 
  • How Baime took lessons from Truman in the writing of this book

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

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The Accidental President website

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