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Truman Hardcover – Jun 1986

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Harpercollins (Jun. 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060155809
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060155803
  • Product Dimensions: 24.6 x 16.3 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 878,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Elected to Parliament as a Labour member in 1948, Jenkins (1920- 2003) served in several major posts in Harold Wilson’s First Government and as Home Secretary from 1965-1967. In 1987, Jenkins was elected to succeed Harold Macmillan as Chancellor of the University of Oxford following the latter’s death, a position he held until his death. Jenkins grew to political maturity during the twilight of a great age of British parliamentary democracy. As much as Churchill, though in quite a different way, Jenkins has been from the cradle a creature of the system that nurtured Palmerston and Disraeli, Gladstone, Asquith and Lloyd George. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Page on 10 Feb. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An interesting view of a great president with a very different viewpoint from david mccullough. Understandably author emphasises certain British politicians. Overall a good read.
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Declaration of interest: I narrated the audio version of Truman, so you'll understand the five stars! Audiobooks are not generally given the level of publicity enjoyed by their text originals so can get overlooked. They are rewarding: you can listen as you work, drive or go to sleep.
I don't stand to gain anything at all by extra audiobook sales, but naturally want others to enjoy them as much as I do. Jenkins tells an insider's extraordinary account of conquest and human ambition, now all the more illuminating in our murky political era.
Howard Ellison.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Roy Jenkins seems to have had a genuine affection and admiration for the quiet and particular character of America's 33rd President. Some very amusing anecdotes and sound judgements.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
A Decent Book 19 Aug. 2012
By K. Burns - Published on
Format: Paperback
I am no fan of Truman, but this book was a decent read. I will admit that as much as I regularly read, the Truman era is one in which I know very little about. It is an era that I hope to become more familiar with. I am unable to inform any potential readers what may have been omitted or embellished in this biography. Author, Roy Jenkins, seemed to give a fair perspective. He was neither flattering nor flippant. Truman finds himself at the lower portion of my great presidents list, but I will keep my opinions to myself. As far as readability, I believe this book to be entertaining and equally informative.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
a trudge with a few insights 12 May 2011
By tjsloss - Published on
Format: Paperback
I chose to give this little volume two stars so it would appear with the excellent review previously posted. I am satisfied to stress two points Mr. Fenton made. (1) Jenkins prose reads like a bored, British schoolmaster. The King's English, rendered by Roy, is often harder to understand than the Beatles' English. But that is a distraction. The reviewer's other point (2) about a general sense of the author's disconnect with United States politics and politicians is valid and crucial ... if one is to consider a short paperback whose shipping cost will triple the purchase price. Roy Jenkins set out to explain Harry Truman and his era but never reached his goal (not gaol, which means jail in American). Love him or hate him, Truman was a fascinating man who stepped from the dual shadows of WW2 and FDR with a style all his own. All this is missing from His MPness, Roy Jenkins. Do not consider giving this book to a friend with even a nodding acquaintance of those times and that man.
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Annoying, distracting and confusing writing 22 April 2011
By Thomas A. Fenton - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Roy Jenkins' "Truman" is a particularly distracting and annoying work of a British author/politician writing about a distinctly American president; in this particular case, I do not find it to be a good fit. Numerous British writers have produced excellent studies of American history and American figures. In my opinion, Jenkins is not one of them. His historical facts are correct, but I do not find his comprehension of American politics and politicians to be particularly impressive.

The front cover review calls it a "highly readable view of Truman"; one back cover review calls it "insightful and highly readable". I would disagree with both of these reviews. British spelling (leant & learnt instead of leaned and learned) and distinct British idioms (post = post office or to mail a letter; gaol = jail; along with motor-car and aeroplane; candidature = candidacy) were to me, annoying, distracting and confusing, and sometimes required three or four readings to comprehend a single sentence or phrase. Perhaps I have a different definition of "readability", but I do not include things that distract and annoy me under the category of readability. Some of his writing seems to lack clarity as to what he is talking about, forcing me to backtrack and re-read several pages to understand what he is saying. One of the most annoying of Jenkins' tendencies is misquoting Americans by substituting British words for American words, (p 205) Margaret Truman did NOT use the word "gaol" when referring to the White House as "the great white JAIL". A quote is supposed to be a QUOTE, not a translation into British language.

One of the reasons I decided to read this work was the two reviews Amazon chose to use on its listing, Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. Contrary to Publishers Weekly's opinion, I do not find it an admiring account. Rather, I find it a sometimes respectful and sometimes accusatory account of Harry S. Truman. At times it seems he goes out of his way to point out errors in judgment using particularly harsh words (e.g. "rashness, ill-judgment, pig-headed...", pg 40). I am neither a Truman fan nor a Truman foe, historically, and want a writer to be fair, but I found myself confused as I read Jenkins' version of who Truman was. Jenkins does not do him justice in bringing forth his dynamic personality. He gives a form of understanding what made him tick, but misses the substance of what made this man different and unique. Further, Publishers Weekly calls Jenkins' work "fresh", meaning, roughly, "never put like that before". I find myself wishing he had not "put it like this" at all.

Further, Jenkins has an absurd tendency to use language that doesn't just report the actions of his subject, it also insults. On page 91, for example, he says the President "made an ass of himself". Perhaps Truman looked foolish, or a host of other appropriate descriptive adjectives, but reading this, in light of other less inflammatory but still accusatory language, I began to wonder if Mr. Jenkins had a very bad case of total lack of respect for a man who held the office of President of the United States. The effect of Mr. Jenkins' choice of words, and style of story telling has made me feel something I never felt before: dislike for a modern British politician. In short, I find this presentation of an American President to be highly offensive, and will not read another of his works.

One thing most of the reviewers and I agree on: it is short. Usually I like, even appreciate short biographies for their contribution to the body of literature and understanding. In this case, its shortness, 215 pages, is the only reason I hung around long enough to finish the book. I just finished reading "John Adams" by David McCullough, at 651 pages. Perhaps McCullough spoiled me. He did, after all, win the Pulitzer prize for "John Adams". On the other hand, Roy Jenkins drove me to distraction, although he did sufficiently inspire me to consider tackling McCullough's book on Truman, even if it is over a thousand pages long, if only because I don't trust Mr. Jenkins' interpretations. I am left feeling I have witnessed a "whack job". I am confident that was not the authors goal, but it was the impression with which he left me. Perhaps a good editor would be able to "fix" this situation and republish it.

Three stars for historical content, two stars for readability
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