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

Whistle Stop: How 31,000 Miles of Train Travel, 352 Speeches, and a Little Midwest Gumption Saved the Presidency of Harry Truman by Philip White
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book a lot. If you are a fan of presidential campaign history or of mid-twentieth-century America I think you would enjoy this book too. The book was a bit dry in parts and jumped right into the 1948 campaign without a lot of background or context. So your enjoyment might depend on how well you know your 1940s history. The book goes into some detail about the "Research Division" of the campaign and makes the case that this group was the forerunner of the "War Rooms" of modern campaigns.

Reading this book during the 2020 presidential campaign season it's fascinating to reflect on the fact that even though the times are very different, so much of politics actually remains the same. There are snippets of some of Truman's Whistle Stop speeches in the book, and you could easily imagine very similar words coming out of Joe Biden's mouth today. On the other hand, the Republican candidate, Thomas Dewey, was very laid-back (too much so it turns out), while Truman was accused of "brass knuckle fighting" based on the content of some of his speeches - a party/role reversal from then to now.

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