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Indelibly, we recall the iconic newsphoto: jubilant underdog Harry
Truman brandishing his copy of 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
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.
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
- Vitriolic Westbrook Pegler’s exposé of Henry Wallace’s
secret “Guru” letters.
- Why the NAACP fired 80-old civil rights pioneer W. E. B.
- Why a disgusted Nina Warren voted for HST—and against
Tom Dewey and her own husband Earl.
- 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
- How “Bull” Connor arrested Henry Wallace’s running mate—
and nearly arrested Wallace himself.
- The Case of the Missing President: HST’s election night
"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"
Says Tom Brokaw: “If you think  is wild, this is really
wild—Harry Truman and Henry Wallace and Strom
Thurmond and Tom Dewey.”
Says Kirkus Reviews: “a coherent, compelling narrative . . .
What the reader learns here is that the long-term veneer that
often sticks to political figures always clouds the reality. And
understanding what actually transpired is not only more
important, but also far more intriguing. A skillful, authoritative
investigation into one of the most famous presidential elections
in U.S. history.”
Says Library Journal: “sweeping . . . compelling”
Says Senator Mitch McConnell: “David Pietrusza has
written a vivid account of President Truman’s unlikely
comeback and ultimate victory in the presidential election of
1948. Anyone with an interest in modern American politics or
campaign strategy will find many lessons and much enjoyment
in this important book.”
Says The Minneapolis Star-Tribune: “an outstanding job
of describing the complicated political climate of 1948 . . . by
far the best yet about the fateful  election.”
Says John Gizzi in Human Events: “Pietrusza breaths fresh
life into “1948’ . . . fresh insight and information . . . history
that packs the wallops of today.”
Says The Washington Times: “brimming with fresh and
detailed information . . . contains more human-interest
subplots than a Shakespeare play. It reads like a movie
thriller waiting to be filmed . . . ‘1948’ is scholarly history,
entertaining drama and just a fun read—not only for political
Says Roll Call: “‘1948’ is the author’s third campaign book
and, by a healthy stretch, the best of the lot. . . . a treasure
trove of historical minutiae.”
Says Jonathan Hunt of Fox News: “I have it on my
bookshelf. I recommend you go out and get it and the rest of
David's great books."
Says Glenn Beck: “an amazing, amazing book—really, really
good—well written and full of stuff you're just not taught. . . .
Fascinating . . . Pick it up now.”
Says John Rothmann, KGO (San Francisco): “A great
book about American politics . . . a must-read”
Says David Mark, Sr. Editor, POLITICO: "brilliantly
portrays ...Truman’s successful efforts"
Says Ron Faucheaux, editor-in-chief, Campaigns &
Elections magazine: "A terrific book . . . a must read.”
Says legendary political strategist Roger Stone: “A
Says best-selling author Robert Spencer: “magnificent,
entertaining and informative.”
Says Congressman Artur Davis (D-AL): “a worthy
successor to “1920: The Year of the Six Presidents,” a
superb recounting of a largely forgotten political season, and
“1960: JFK v. LBJ v. Nixon,” which manages to shed fresh
details on that year’s epic. Pietrusza opts for the brisk
narrative/character sketch (think “The Making of the
President,” but with no pretense of grandeur), over the minute
retelling of every seminal event that weighs down Edmund
Morris’ series on Teddy Roosevelt or John Milton Cooper’s
well regarded 2008 biography of Woodrow Wilson. It is less
grand history than a jaunty, essayist’s rendition—imminently
readable and revealing.”
Says The Albany Times-Union: “lively . . . illuminating
portraits of the four candidates, but the even-handed
appraisal of Truman is especially compelling. . . . The account
of the whistle-stop tour is gripping.”
Says usahistorybooks.com: “1948 is a grand slam! . . .
easily the most thorough and complete about that watershed
election. . . . I’ve given this book a five star rating; it actually
deserves a rating of eight or nine on a five . . . Pietrusza tells
this story of great historical interest in an eminently readable
form that borders on the style of an erudite gossip columnist.
It is both informative and fun to read at the same time. . . . the
insight into the social and cultural ethos of the day is at times
Says David R. Stokes, townhall.com: “masterful . . .
compelling portraits of the people who then occupied the
country’s political stage.”
Says The Bonney Lake-Sumner (WA) Courier-Herald:
“well documented . . . fun to read.”
Says Howard Megdal, Editor-in-Chief, The Perpetual
Post: “Any political junkie would be crazy not to pick up a
copy of David Pietrusza’s 1948 . . .”
Says Akie Bermiss, The Perpetual Post: “Well informed,
well-written, and thorough.”
Says The Long Island Business Press: “a fine narrative on
how the accidental president outfoxed the political
establishment and won a stunning upset victory.”
Says Michael Koolidge, The Michael Koolidge Show:
“absolutely fascinating . . . another fascinating look at an
absolutely fascinating election”
Says Mandy Connell, WHAS-AM, Louisville, KY:
“pertinent to today”
Says The Missoula (MT) Missoulian: “a stirring, detailed
retelling of that year’s fabled campaign and its stunning
outcome. . . . places the campaign into the broader setting of
a world in turmoil . . .”