The Presidents Collection
When I think of Harry S Truman, I think of two things.  The first is those magnificent glasses he wore, the second is the dropping of the atomic bomb.  If there is one discovery which should be completely undone, it is nothing short of the discover of atomic weaponry.  Yes, the use of the atomic bomb can be rationalized, but it is never justifiable.  Truman knew of the terrible power of the bomb and even tried to convince himself that when he used this, it would not be used on civilians.  It’s a terrible decision to make which no person should ever have the curse of making.  Of course, there many other things about President Truman, but who knows them?  Now there is a chance to learn some of those other things about him.

Starting this August 26th, now available on DVD from PBS Home Video and Paramount Home Entertainment comes the definitive collection of the important and pivotal American presidents of the twentieth century.  American Experience – The Presidents Collection – Truman is ready to come into your living room and help explain why the twentieth century turned out the way it did.  Bring home this wonderful historic show today.

This DVD boxed set contains 15 DVDs and ten episodes from American Experience.  The presidents examined are, in chronological order, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, The Kennedys, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush.

Harry S Truman was 60 when he became president, had only been vice-president for 82 days, had never gone beyond high school and was unheard of in Washington DC until he was 50.  Nonetheless, he took over from one of the most impressive presidents of all time, in the midst of the war and on the tail end of the Great Department.  This film on one of the least known presidents of the last 100 years is broken into two discs.  The first disc is made up of eight parts – A New Life, in which we learn that Truman was a self-described “sissy” as a boy but learned to never give up – Opportunities, in which we learn of the paths Truman took as a farmer and a hat maker – War And Peace, in which we learn the impact of the first World War on young Truman – Senator Truman, in which he becomes elected as a Senator – Road To The White House, where we see how exactly an unknown ended up as the VP – A New President, the story of how FDR died and Truman took over – End Of The War, in which the second great war ends – and The Bomb, in which the deadliest decision ever made comes to be.  The second disc is made up of seven parts – Crisis At Home – Seeds Of The Cold War – New Policies – Truman Defeats Dewey – The Korean War – Truman vs MacArthur – and Citizen Truman, all of them very self-explanatory.

The special feature included in this two DVD set is a teachers guide for facilitating discussion regarding this film.

Before watching this film, I never realized just how little I knew about Truman.  He took over after FDR, he committed one of the worst mass murders of all time and there’s that iconic picture of him with the newspaper saying Dewey won.  Even though I am inclined to dislike him because of what I view as being the wrong decision on the atomic question, making us the only true rogue nation who has used an atomic weapon, I find myself liking him.  The way he was able to stay tough in the face of a Cold War which was still deadly hot as we were just learning how dangerous our clash of ideologies could become, his appreciation of peace, his commitment to traditional Democratic ideals.  He could very well have now become my favorite president, although there are certainly others I enjoy as well.  The one thing I can’t get past is seeing the crowds of Americans celebrating the end of the war and the preservation of their freedom as hundreds of thousands of Japanese were immolated and quietly poisoned.  That’s a parallel which haunted Truman, much as he tried to deny it, and it certainly haunts me as well.

Experience this great documentary.

This DVD and the rest of the boxed set is available at Amazon.com.

Nathaniel Jonet

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