This book was not planned. It took shape under extraordinary circumstances during very crowded hours of the President at a time when the person and the office of the President have so compelling an influence on the world. The book -- growing out of a series of interviews -- was to be a combination of text, pictures and captions descriptive and illustrative of the office and incumbent. It was to have been an intimate but not essentially a revealing book of President Truman and his work. But as the project began to unfold it developed historic proportions and significance.
The President turned over to me his personal diaries and private papers. Almost unknown even to his intimate friends, the diaries and private papers brought sudden revelation of an extraordinary man, a man who knows his history and knows what he thinks and how to say it. There are glimpses behind the international and domestic scenes, dramatically highlighting the untiring efforts of the President to prevent another world war, his serene belief in democracy. The President then turned over to me notes about his life. Never before has a man so high in public life written with such candor and permitted publication while still in office. The stark simplicity of his narrative at times matches the beauty and the most manly style of some of our best writers. The President explained his purpose in this letter to me:
The White House, Washington October 1, 1951
"I have thought long and hard about making available to you my private notes and papers for publication. As you will judge from reading them, nearly all were intended to remain in my personal files. But I have concluded that for the historical record and a broader comprehension by the public of their thirty-second President and the Presidency I should release some of them to you for publication now.