Matthew Algeo

Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure

The True Story of a Great American Road Trip

Chicago Review Press 2009

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in BiographyNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network May 22, 2009 Marshall Poe

Memorial day is coming up, and maybe you are going to take a little car trip. It might even be a “road trip,” one...

Memorial day is coming up, and maybe you are going to take a little car trip. It might even be a “road trip,” one of the great American enterprises (which isn’t to say other folks don’t take them, but Americans can rightly say they invented this genre of fun). In 1953, Harry and Bess Truman took a road trip in a shiny new Chrysler. Without any secret service protection at all. Harry wanted to see what it was like to be a private citizen again. He did and he didn’t, as Matthew Algeo explains in his charming new book Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure. The True Story of a Great American Road Trip (Chicago Review Press, 2009). Even in those days, it was hard for ex-presidents to keep a low profile. Harry and Bess did their best, but people wanted to see them and talk to them. They did. Perhaps that’s what Harry wanted all along. It’s hard to say. But this much is sure: no American president could do anything similar today. George Bush (either one) can’t go to the store to buy a gallon of milk without his “detail,” and he probably couldn’t get fifty feet from his door without encountering a mix of well-wishers and protesters. Harry and Bess met a horde of the former and none of the latter. The presidency has changed, and so has America. Read all about it in this most readable of books.

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