A book that you absolutely must read this summer is Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure, The True Story of a Great American Road Trip by Matthew Algeo. Algeo writes about the three-week drive taken by former United States President Harry Truman and his wife, Bess, in the summer of 1953.
In 1953, after eight years in Washington D.C., Mr. Truman was back home in Independence, Missouri. Truman, elected Vice President on ticket with Franklin D Roosevelt in 1944, became President in April 1945 when Mr. Roosevelt died. Truman was subsequently elected President in 1948. In January 1953, after Dwight D. Eisenhower began serving his term as President, Mr. Truman and his wife resumed life in Missouri.
After a few months at home, the former President and former First Lady were ready for a road trip. In their new car, Harry and Bess drove from Missouri to Washington D.C., New York City, and back home again. They went by themselves: No Secret Service, no security, no staff, no entourage of any kind. In this charming, entertaining, and informative book, author Matthew Algeo tells the story of that trip, and that time in America.
This book is rich with interesting facts and trivia about the Trumans, the Office of the President, and the other men who have held that position: Who hated who; which former Presidents became close friends; who struggled financially after leaving the White House and who capitalized in private life on their former position of power.
In addition to the political stories, Mr. Alder wonderfully describes, and contrasts with today, the states, communities, hotels, even the highway itself, that Harry and Bess visited. The book is filled with not only Truman's story, but American's story.
Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure is simply a delightful book. It is highly recommended reading.