Economics and the Truman Administration

Francis H. Heller, ed.

This retrospective study brings together twenty-two key associates of President Truman's to consider the administrative operation of the presidency from 1945 to 1953. The contributors are persons who were close to Truman throughout his presidency: members of the cabinet, the White House staff, and senior officials in Executive Office agencies. Sharing personal reflections are, among others, Charles Brannan, W. Averell Harriman, Leon H. Keyserling, Charles S. Murphy, Richard E. Neustadt, John W. Snyder, Elmer B. Staats, and the late Tom C. Clark.

A number of important administrative aspects of Truman's presidency are touched upon as the participants review the years of their White House experience. They talk about policy making in the areas of national security and foreign affairs, about budget and economic matters, relations with Congress, domestic problems such as civil rights, presidential appointments, and even press relations. They exchange anecdotes about the president's style and their working relationships with him in staff meetings, cabinet meetings, and private briefing sessions.

“Surprising and revealing glimpses of Truman come through. . . . Indeed, the evidence that counters the now popular image of the outspoken little gamecock who often squawked his way through a fight with that of a sensitive and gentle listener concerned with the feelings of his staff, at times to a fault, provides an image of Truman that is interestingly collegial and thoughtful. The management of the presidency as a personal experience, a relationship between the boss and his associates, comes through.”

—Political Science Quarterly

“A book full of lively, loving anecdotes.”

—Foreign Affairs
See all reviews...

The creation of the Central Intelligence Agency and the establishment of the National Security Council, the Council of Economic Advisers, and the National Security Resources Board during Truman's administration clearly improved and strengthened the organization of and the institutional aids to the presidency. In answer to the question of what can be learned from the way Truman operated the presidency, however, the overriding theme of the exchanges recorded here is that the style of the White House is—inescapably—the president's style. The picture that emerges in these pages of life and work in Truman's administration is one of informality, enthusiasm, and camaraderie. A family-like atmosphere pervaded the staff, and the president played the crucial role in setting the tone.

Incorporating a broad spectrum of firsthand information on the administrative concepts and practices of the Truman era, this volume will be of prime interest to all students of government and executive organization.