Harry Truman's Improbable Victory and the Year That Tranformed America
From David Pietrusza, author of 1920: The Year of The Six Presidents
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|History recalls the iconic headline of the Chicago Tribune proclaiming "DEWEY DEFEATS
TRUMAN." But far, far more exists to 1948's election that a single inglorious headline and a
stunning upset victory. Award-winning author David Pietrusza goes beyond the headlines to
reveal backstage events and to place in context a down-to-the-wire donnybrook fought against
the background of an erupting Cold War, the Berlin Airlift, and the birth of Israel, a post-war
America facing exploding storms over civil rights, and domestic communism.
It’s a war for the soul of the Democratic Party with accidental president Harry Truman pitted
against his embittered left-wing predecessor as vice president, Henry Wallace, and stormy
young South Carolina segregationist Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond. On the GOP side, it’s a four-
way battle between cold-as-ice New Yorker Tom Dewey, Minnesota upstart Harold Stassen,
the stodgy but brilliant Ohio conservative Robert Taft, and the imperious but aged Douglas
But Americans really want “none of the above.” They do, however, “like IKE,” but Dwight
Eisenhower stubbornly resists draft movements in both parties to run—at least, that year.
It’s an election year featuring a uniquely stellar supporting cast. Alger Hiss, Whitaker
Chambers and Richard Nixon. Civil rights crusader Hubert Humphrey. GOP VP choice Earl
Warren. Henry Wallace activists Paul Robeson, Lillian Hellman, and Pete Seeger. A passel of
FDR kin—including Eleanor—disgusted with HST. Wisconsin’s Joe McCarthy, Clark Clifford,
William O. Douglas, George C. Marshall, John Foster Dulles, Adlai Stevenson, Drew Pearson,
“Landslide Lyndon” Johnson, H. L. Mencken, Harold Ickes, Clare and Henry Luce, the “Do-
Nothing” 80th Congress, Curtis LeMay, Ronald Reagan, and, last, but not least, NBC’s forever
embarrassed H. V. Kaltenborn.
David Pietrusza achieves for 1948’s presidential race what he previously did in 1960: LBJ vs
JFK vs Nixon—of which Library Journal (starred review) said “raises the bar with his winning
and provocative chronicle. . . . Highly recommended." Pietrusza again brings history to life,
spellbinding readers with tales of the highest drama while simultaneously presenting the
issues, personalities, and controversies of this pivotal era with laser-like clarity.
With 2012’s crucial presidential election approaching, 1948 transforms the way readers see
modern American history.
Just a taste of what’s inside David Pietrusza’s riveting
1948: Harry Truman’s Improbable Victory and the Year that Transformed America—
- Vitriolic Westbrook Pegler’s exposé of Henry Wallace’s secret “Guru” letters.
- Why the NAACP fired 80-old civil rights pioneer W. E. B. DuBois.
- Why a disgusted Nina Warren voted for HST—and against Tom Dewey and her own
- How A. Philip Randolph’s threatened “March on Washington” integrated the army.
- J. Strom Thurmond: Segregationist white knight—with an illegitimate black daughter.
- The ground-breaking Oregon radio debate that settled a presidential nomination.
- How “Bull” Connor arrested Henry Wallace’s running mate—and nearly arrested Wallace
- The Case of the Missing President: HST’s election night vanishing act.
"In '1948' David Pietrusza brings to light some of the forgotten but important figures in
American political history. There’s Glen Taylor, the singing senator from Idaho and running
mate of Henry Wallace on perhaps the most left-wing national ticket of the past century.
Mississippi Fielding Wright also makes a memorable appearance as understudy for
segregationist South Carolina Gov. Strom Thurmond, a reminder of just how solid the South
was for Democrats at one time. Pietrusza brilliantly portrays President Harry Truman’s
successful efforts to stave off the challenge of New York Gov. Tom Dewey, who was making a
repeat bid as the Republican nominee. Though Dewey lost, readers will come to see him as a
surprisingly civil libertarian-minded candidate, opposing the banning of the Communist Party,
despite its promotion of a noxious ideology."
—David Mark, Senior Editor, POLITICO
David Pietrusza is the author of 1960—LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon: The Epic Campaign That
Forged Three Presidencies; 1920: The Year of the Six Presidents; Rothstein: The Life, Times
and Murder of the Criminal Genius Who Fixed the 1919 World Series; Silent Cal's Almanack:
The Homespun Wit & Wisdom of Vermont's Calvin Coolidge, and the award-winning Judge
and Jury: The Life and Times of Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis.
His body of historical work has garnered media attention from such outlets as The New York
Times, Newsweek, US News & World Reports, the Washington Post, NPR, C-SPAN BookTV,
C-SPAN American History TV, MSNBC, SiriusXM, The Fox News Channel, Bloomberg Radio,
the New York Daily News, The New York Post, the Jerusalem Post, The New York Law
Journal, The New York Sun, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Denver Post, the Weekly
Standard, the Washington Times, The Seattle Times, The Raleigh News & Observer, the
Louisville Courier-Journal, the Long Island Business Press, and the Tucson Sun.
Pietrusza is the Recipient of the 2011 Excellence in Arts & Letters Award of the Alumni
Association of the University at Albany.
|David Pietrusza discussing "1948"