PRESIDENT TRUMAN said to me: "I want the people to know the Presidency as I have experienced it and I want them to know me as I am."
This is the idea and the theme of this book.
I am a reporter.
This book began when Mr. Truman granted me a series of special interviews during which he discussed the basic policies of his administration against the background of his surprising and reflective knowledge of American and world history. As Mr. Truman answered my questions, a book of extraordinary significance emerged. The President made available to me all his diaries, his private papers and correspondence. With characteristic candor and directness, the President spoke out as no President ever has while in office.
History makes its judgments looking backward. Mistakes are corrected at leisure -- retrospectively. Men and events that still endure in memory frequently look different to different generations.
The advent of communication with the speed of light, and the fierce insecurity of man, swiftly growing with his expanding knowledge, have generated a new force of spontaneous world opinion.
This force makes its own history: on the run, propelled by passions quickly touched and propaganda intruding as facts. Judgments are swift in the making and actions are quick to follow and too often the facts are slow to catch up. This new force of spontaneous world opinion has an enormous influence on the function and the leverage of the Presidency of the United States.
Never in history has any man been assigned the responsibilities the President has today.
Present-day human needs and still ancient human wants and ambitions, wherever men are, seem to be reaching out for attention by one man -- whatever his constitutional limitations may be or however constructed he is in mind and spirit. There is no parallel for the world's intrusion today on the man in the White House. Hence, a close-up view of the President in action may prove useful to contemporary society. Since we are living in a kind of world where there is no precedent or parallel for some vital things, we cannot defer to the leisure of retrospective history what ought to be told now -- even if only in part.
A world facing a perilous hour and even extinction would think it folly to allow academic or political considerations to obscure the President while he is in office. Certainly the