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The Most Momentous Four Months in History

September 18, 2018

The following is a quote from a book referenced at the end of this blog:

The president died. The man forced to fill his shoes, the vice president, was the prototypical ordinary man, in contrast to the president. He had no college degree. He had never had enough money to own his own home. He had never governed a state or served as mayor of a city. He became president “by accident” (his words ). His ascendancy to the most powerful office in existence was the result of a confluence of almost bizarre events, and his obscurity confounded the world.

Here was a man who came into the White House almost as though he had been picked at random off the street, recalled a White House correspondent, with absolutely no useable background and no useable information. Here was a guy like you, or your next door neighbor, one of the Vice President’s closest friends said, and he got into a job that was too big for him. When the Vice President took office, a Chicago Tribune columnist spoke for all of civilized humanity when he wrote: “All the world is asking two questions. What sort of man is now the president? and What kind of president will he make?

The first four months of the new presidency saw the collapse of Nazi Germany, the founding of the United Nations, fire bombings of Japanese cities that killed many thousands of civilians, the liberation of Nazi death camps, the suicide of Adolf Hitler, the execution of Benito Mussolini, and the capture of arch war criminals from Hitler’s number two, Hermann Göring, to the Nazi “chief werewolf” Ernst Kaltenbrunner . There was the fall of Berlin, victory at Okinawa (which the historian Bill Sloan has called the deadliest campaign of conquest ever undertaken by American arms), and the Potsdam Conference during which the new president sat at the negotiating table with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin in Soviet-occupied Germany in an attempt to map out a new world. Humanity saw the first atomic explosions, the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the dawn of the Cold War, and the beginning of the nuclear arms race.

Never had fate shoehorned so much history into such a short period. “The four months that have elapsed since the death of President Roosevelt on April 12 have been one of the most momentous periods in man’s history” wrote a New York Times columnist at the time.

This has been copied from The Accidental President / Harry S Truman and the four months that changed the world by A.J. Baime. This is a book I recommend to those interested in history, the American presidency or world affairs.

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