Truman Fires MacArthur (ebook excerpt of Truman)
Those are the challenges President Obama has faced as he attempts to make a success of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. They are also the challenges President Truman surmounted in the winter of 1950 as he began managing a war in Korea that risked becoming bigger and more costly. It was the first significant armed conflict of the Cold War: U.S. troops under the command of General Douglas MacArthur came to the aid of the South Koreans after North Korea invaded. When Communist China entered the conflict on the side of the North Koreans, the crisis seemed on the verge of flaring into a world war. Truman was determined not to let that happen. MacArthur kept urging a widening of the war into China itself and ignoring his commander in chief. On April 11, 1951, after MacArthur had “shot his mouth off,” as one diplomat put it, one too many times, Truman fired him.
The story of their showdown—one of the most dramatic in U.S. history between a commander in chief and his top soldier in the field—is captured in all its detail by David McCullough in his Pulitzer Prize–winning biography Truman, and presented here in a ebook called Truman Fires MacArthur (ebook excerpt of Truman), which was the headline carried in many newspapers around the country the next day.
David McCullough Wishes He Had This Talent
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Reading Group Guide
Questions and Topics For Discussion
- Harry S. Truman was born on May 8, 1884. Nearly twenty years prior, Anderson Truman freed his five slaves, Hannah, Marge, and their three daughters in Leavenworth, Kansas. Later on, a keeper of the family would conclude that the Truman's never owned slaves. Since owning slaves was a relatively accepted practice in the Confederacy, why would someone think to rewrite history? How would you describe the turning point in the American social consciousness over slavery? Why do you think it took so long for someone to stand up to Jim Crow, even after the senseless killing of nine African-Americans? How does history influence what lives are valuable within the consciousness of a society? What other factors are at play?
- Truman's boyhood was shaped by deeply instilled values. Often eager to please and a "bookworm" Truman was the perfect child. Even at such an early age, Truman displayed a love for politics. What values did Truman hold that would later make him an outstanding politician? A significant part of Truman's moral character was reinforced by his education. Do you think that a similar education should be taught in today's public schools? If so, how?
- Truman was a farmer, even though farmers were discouraged to fight, he felt it was his duty to serve in the war in Europe. The president at the time, Woodrow Wilson said, "upon the farmers