Whistle Stop

Whistle Stop: How 31,000 Miles of Train Travel, 352 Speeches, and a Little Midwest Gumption Saved the Presidency of Harry Truman 

Release Date: November 4th, 2014
Published by: ForeEdge (University Press of New England)

“An intimate and richly detailed view of one of the most colorful presidential campaign tours in American history.”
— Candice Millard, author of The River of Doubt and Destiny of the Republic

"Whistle Stop tells in masterful fashion the story of the election that the smart money said Harry S. Truman would lose.”
— Paul Reid, author of The Last Lion: Winston Churchill, Defender of the Realm

“A fascinating page-turner.” —Matthew Algeo, author of Harry Truman’s Excellent

It was June 1948 and things weren't going well for Harry Truman. The Soviets had blocked road, rail and air links into West Berlin, threatening millions with starvation and jeopardizing the Marshall Plan. Communism was on the march in China, Greece and Turkey.

Things were little better at home. Truman faced a double split in his party, with Henry Wallace leading the Progressives leftward, and the 'Dixiecrats' breaking away to form the States' Rights Party in protest of the Man from Missouri's bold civil rights plan. Americans for Democratic Action launched a "we want Ike" campaign to get beloved General Dwight D. Eisenhower on the Democratic Party ticket instead of Truman. And the Republican Party had nominated a "dream ticket" of Thomas Dewey and Earl Warren. Most of the country though Clare Boothe Luce was right when she said Truman was a "gone goose." 

But Truman refused to accept that his goose was going to be cooked in the November 1948 election. In June, he set off on a 9,500 mile Western tour, giving 76 speeches in 18 states in only 15 days, defying his double digit deficit in the polls and a largely hostile press corps, two thirds of which thought he would lose.  Truman's goal was to talk to as many voters as he could, and to convince them that he should remain in the White House. His old rival Robert Taft, aka "Mr. Republican" complained that Truman was "blackguarding Congress at every Whistle Stop in the West." Instead of firing back, Truman embraced the term and the Whistle Stop tour was on. 

By mid October Truman had delivered more than 250 speeches, a stark contrast to the two addresses that his predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, had delivered by the same mark in the 1944 campaign. Using localized material from seven young men in the Research Division, a precursor to the modern day campaign "war room" he gave 100 more speeches - up to 16 a day - before Election Day. Along the way, he issued an executive order desegregating the Armed Forces and delivered a historic address to a black audience in Harlem, even as Dixiecrat leader J. Strom Thurmond vowed that "there's not enough troops in the army to force the southern people to break down segregation and admit the nigger race into our swimming pools, our homes, and into our churches."

Thurmond carried most of the South and Dewey got almost 22 million votes, but somehow, despite the turmoil abroad, the double split in his party and the doubts of almost everyone around him (including his wife, Bess), Harry Truman triumphed. Using previously unseen material from members of the Research Division, including the story of one man's flight from Nazi Germany, Whistle Stop tells the unlikely story of how Truman pulled off one of the biggest election upsets in history. 

Click here to pre-order your copy now. 

Want to purchase a signed copy? Then e-mail the author here or leave a comment on this page. Thanks for your support. 

No comments:

Post a Comment