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Whistle Stop: How 31,000 Miles of Train…

Whistle Stop: How 31,000 Miles of Train Travel, 352 Speeches, and a Little…

by Philip White

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I thoroughly enjoyed Whistle Stop: How 31,000 miles of Train Travel....... It began with the setting of the "Office" back home in Washington DC and who were the primary players gathering information for the traveling president. Of course this is all in the setting of deep distrust of the government after the War and the failure to follow through w needed reforms, economic and housing in particular. The Congress was not helpful with the Democratic president and they being primarily Republican. Thus was set the scene for the President to take to the people his plans for addressing the issues. However he did it in a very grassroots campaign - taking the issues directly to the people who would vote. He was able, through the use of the resources of the "Office", to bring specific issues to the forefront of each group he spoke to. Thus, he bypassed much of the machinery telling the population the issues and the possible solutions. Not an awful lot different from what we have today. ( )
  oldman | Feb 22, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Whistle Stop by Philip White tells the story of the famous whistle stop campaign by Harry Truman that pulled him from certain defeat to an improbable victory in the 1948 Presidential campaign. The energy and research that went into the campaign trek was a very interesting and informative story.
The amazing thing to me is that if you take out all the politicians names and insert the politicians of today you probably couldn't tell the difference, the issues are almost exactly the same.
  satchmo77 | May 14, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I never knew the story about Harry Truman's whistle stop campaign. I never realized how much time he spent on the train. Nor did I know how the 1948 election went, except for the the part with Truman holding the newspaper with the false headline. This book cover all the bases about how before the age of the internet a group of dedicated men mined information as he crisscross the country going on the offensive. What is equally interesting is how while much has changed some things stay the same and those who do not study history are doomed to repeat the mistakes made in the past. ( )
  foof2you | Apr 5, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Harry Truman’s Whistle Stop Tour is part of American lore that I have heard about all my life but never, even while earning a degree in history, learned much about. Philip White’s book, “Whistle stop : how 31,000 miles of train travel, 352 speeches, and a little Midwest gumption saved the presidency of Harry Truman” remedied that. Philip White, who writes for the Huffington Post and several magazines, print and online, does a good job of telling the story. Truman was so far back in the polls that New York’s Governor Thomas Dewey, the Republican candidate, ran a low key and low energy campaign. The Democrats were split, Truman gained the nomination at a stormy convention only after several votes. Liberal and conservatives split away from the main party to run their own candidates. Truman’s name was not even on the ballot is one southern state.
We know how the story ends, with Harry Truman holding up a copy of the Chicago Tribune with the totally incorrect headline, “Dewey defeats Truman!”. How he turned it around is an important lesson in politics, he made it personal. Armed with a secret weapon, a six man research team that fed him data about every little town he would speak in and let every voter that came to hear him see that he shared their concerns. There were lucky breaks along the way, an encounter with an unruly horse that documented his farmer background as surely as his natty suits proved his history as a small businessman. There were a few gifts from the GOP that helped him win the election and prove that he belonged in the White House.
Although the book is not a scholarly work, many of the sources cited are secondary works, the book gives a good picture of the politics of the time. In fact you get the idea that, except for the technology, not much has changed. White even spends the last chapter pointing out the lessons todays parties could learn from the Truman / Dewey election. It was an interesting addition but the parallels are clear without having them pointed out to anyone that pays attention to the news. Truman and Dewey were names from history but Hubert Humphrey and Clark Clifford were names I remember, hearing about their early careers helped connect the Truman - Dewey election to my time. Over all it is a fun and informative book that offers a look at a unique and important event in the history of the United States. ( )
  TLCrawford | Mar 2, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
"Whistle Stop," author Phillip White states in the Introduction, is not an attempt at reciting the complete history of the unusual 1948 presidential campaign. Rather, Mr. White chooses to focus on two aspects. He first "explore[s] the microcosm of [President Truman's] Whistle Stop Tour against a rich background of domestic and foreign crises" (p. 12). Second, he tells the "full story of the Research Division - 'these bright, imaginative and energetic young men ... ' to help explain how they helped Harry Truman connect with the American people" (p. 12). Mr. White succeeds on both counts. Six decades ago, of course, TV was still in its infancy (as a medium, let alone as a campaign tool), the internet was unheard of -- "instant communication" was radio or telegraph. Indeed, Truman's running mate, Sen. Alben Barkley, raised eyebrows by accomplishing his campaign travels via a DC-3 airplane. 61% of "the media" -- newspapers and radio -- would endorse Truman's opponent, NY Gov. Thomas E. Dewey. Truman's ownDemocratic Party was split, with the candidacies of Henry Wallace (Truman's predecessor as VP) and Strom Thurmond. Thus, it was decides that Truman should hit the road and communicate directly with the voters as much as possible. Mr. White concentrates on the time from June (Truman's first rail tour, a "non-political" tour of several western states, which served as a trail run for the future campaign swings in the Fall) through October, each month its own chapter. There is much rich detail, from internal debates and strategy sessions among and between the Research Division and the White House) to transcriptions of the President's campaign remarks, speeches, and interviews. In a few spots, however, fact-checking would have been useful; Adlai Stevenson is alluded to as running for the US Senate seat from Illinois in 1948 (it was actually governor [p. 154]), and Ohio is credited as being won by both Truman and Dewey (Truman carried the state by a razor-thin 7500 votes [p. 243 and p. 246]). Such minescule trivia will irk only the political/historical junkies such as myself, however. As Mr. White infers early on, If you are looking for a comprehensive account of the 1948 campaign, all the players, from primaries to conventions to election, this isn't the book; there are many out there that do just that. What Mr. White has done is to look at the campaign from an original, and admittedly narrower, focus, and he has authored a crisp and most interesting read. ( )
1 vote bks1953 | Feb 26, 2015 |
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FOR NICOLE. It's always for you.
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Harry Truman was never supposed to president of the United States.
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