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What is more American than a road trip? I like to move. Aug 03, Judy rated it really liked it. Okay, I admit it, I'm just wild about Harry.

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Harry Truman is one of my favorite presidential personalites and this book made me like him even more. Harry Truman was the last president to leave office without a pension and without Secret Service protection. All he had was a small Army pension for his service in World War I and an advance from a publisher for his memoirs. This book chronicles that trip. Trying to travel without attracting attention, both President and Mrs. They were recognized nearly everywhere they went and showered with attention and applause.

The author is able to include details in this story that makes the Trumans leave the pages of a history book and take on a living-breathing quality. President Truman loved nothing so much as the "song of the open road" and a car in which he could rocket down the road. Bess, on the other hand, felt that he was not the best driver and insisted before leaving home that he couldn't drive more than 55 miles per hour and then she watched the speedometer.

Of course, this meant that the former president was pulled over on the Pennsylvania turnpike for impeding traffic. You have to love tht. The descriptions of people yelling hello to him while he was on his "daily constitutionals" struck a memory for me because when I was a child in the late 50s, I saw him one morning walking briskly down a street in Washington, D.

The author is very successful in placing Truman into the context of the s and s which makes the book even more enjoyable. Less enjoyable was the author following in Truman's footsteps over 50 years later and trying to stay in the same hotels and eat in the same restaurants. This, I think, is the least successful part of the book. Harry Truman was an Ex-President before being one made you rich and famous. He left office in with no pension, Secret Service protection, or the prospect of being able to command exorbitant speaking fees on the rubber chicken circuit.

In the Summer of Harry was invited to address a veteran's organization at their national convention in Philadelphia. He decided it might be fun to drive, accompanied by his wife Bess, and driving his brand new Chrysler New Yorker provided by the company at a substantial discount he set off to see the country, he hoped to travel incognito. As you will see that didn't last long.

If the author's only intention had been to chronicle Harry's journey, this would have easily been a 4-star effort. Unfortunately, Algeo seeks to interject himself into the narrative by seeking to recreate the trip in America. His transitions between the two are jarring, and often disrupt the narrative flow of the book. Often when he visits one of the places Harry stopped he finds it either torn down, or that something modern like a Starbucks had been erected in it's place, making his stories rather anti-climactic.

Clearly this is not his fault, but a few of the places he visits are merely closed, leading the reader to believe he simply didn't plan ahead. In one instance he is unable to locate the Truman's New Yorker, so he finds another that is similar to Truman's in most respects, except that it's a maroon convertible, sorry, try again, most people would consider those to be completely different cars.

Later in the book, he decides to replicate Harry's appearance at the Today show window, but is unable to get near the window at all, because he forgot that Neal Diamond was playing on the plaza that day. He also attends a book signing by Ex-President Carter, and when he finally gets to the head of the line he asks him if he ever met President Truman, he replied "No, but I wish I had" Wow, penetrating insights!

Perhaps his most bizarre aside is when he takes time during a U. Lazy writing and anticlimactic moments aside, this book is not a complete waste of time. It's a fast read so if you have a hole in your reading calendar, it might be a good fit, but if your reading list is as long as mine, feel free to skip this one. Feb 14, Al Young rated it it was amazing. Okay, so some people read about vampires, some read about gunslingers.

I read about Harry. Of course, he was wrong. Every stop he made created a minor buzz. This was before social media, so Truman may have had some peace, but every where he showed up, it quickly made it to the press. Another interesting point to this book was that Truman did not receive a Presidential pension. This was an issue for Truman.

Truman thought it was important to keep the prestige of the office, which solves what modern Presidents would have done- taking symbolic Chairboard positions and lecturing for big bucks. Truman liked to keep an office in Independence and respond to correspondence, which was not cheap. This is a pretty quick book, and can be read in one or two settings if so inclined. Algeo fills the book out by taking the same route and reporting what he saw.

Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip

For those like me, we have heard those stories from our parents and grandparents, and that will be soon lost. Algeo meets some of those who met Truman or their descendants. Along the way, he does what he does best, which is pepper in random trivia. I eat that stuff up, and if that is the type of book you are interested in, it really is a great book. Apr 18, Turi rated it really liked it Shelves: This is a case where the cover pulled me in, and I ended up really liking the book. What a great photo - Harry Truman driving himself and his wife around, after his presidency. And that's pretty much the focus of the book - a road trip that the Trumans took the year after Harry stepped down from office.

Algeo does a wonderful job giving great details about the trip, who the Trumans saw, where they stayed, etc. A great window into the end of another era, where an ex-president could actually have financial issues, and could hop in his car and drive himself across the country.

May 07, Kressel Housman rated it really liked it Shelves: The epilogue revisits this theme by spelling out just how much ex-presidency is worth these days, and it made me angry. If one ex-president would give up his pension and pay for his offices out of his own money, that might go a ways toward stopping up some of that gaping hole that is our deficit. That said, it was an enjoyable book. The author, who has a Facebook page for this book, was very friendly and gave me his recommendation of a good biography.


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  5. Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip by Matthew Algeo.

I must say that my appreciation of this book was greatly enhanced because I already had some background on Truman. So for optimum use of this book, brush up on your Truman history, even if only from Wikipedia. Sep 02, Jim Zubricky rated it liked it. The premise of this book is outstanding: Harry Truman and his wife, Bess, take a road trip in and try to be incognito as much as possible, which turns out to be virtually impossible. I think the author did a great job with telling a story about the all-American road trip that an ex-president takes with his wife.

And that part of the book is worth reading -- I would give this section the meat of the book 5 stars. The other part of the book involves the author providing a history on differen The premise of this book is outstanding: The other part of the book involves the author providing a history on different aspects of life then and now: Some of it was really interesting and fit into the scope of the book; some seemed frivalous and a stretch to include at various points.

I would give this section of the book 3 stars. Whenever the book got to one of these sections, it turned from non-fiction to almost like a travelogue. Clearly, the author's contention is to show the reader how much things have changed in 59 years. Sometimes, I was left baffled as to why the author added these interjections or commentaries.

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They're readable, yes, but they really did not seem to fit in with the rest of the book. I would give this section of the book 1 star. Overall -- 3 stars.

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It's a very fast read I was able to read this in less than a day , and it's very light reading. May 08, Toni rated it really liked it Shelves: Even more than a record of Harry and Bess Truman's road trip during the summer of , this little book is an excellent peek into 's Americana and the history that brought us there. As the author tells about Harry's love for the automobile and driving he gives us the rich history of our chosen modes of transportation, from the early days of the first horseless carriages to Harry's beautiful Chrysler New Yorker the next model up was the Imperial - "too swanky for me," according to Ha Even more than a record of Harry and Bess Truman's road trip during the summer of , this little book is an excellent peek into 's Americana and the history that brought us there.

As the author tells about Harry's love for the automobile and driving he gives us the rich history of our chosen modes of transportation, from the early days of the first horseless carriages to Harry's beautiful Chrysler New Yorker the next model up was the Imperial - "too swanky for me," according to Harry. From their home in Independence, Missouri to New York City and back again we get a glimpse of life at the time - diners and mom and pop restaurants to the first motels before the mega hotel chains came into existence to the rise and demise of the KKK to flying saucers and the early days of television and the first presidential airplanes.

Harry Truman was truly an original, an avowed Democrat, a devoted husband and father and completely unapologetic with no second thoughts about the decision he made shortly after assuming the office of president to end the war in the Pacific. He was the last president to leave the White House in humble circumstances, before presidential pensions became the law of the land and also before round-the-clock Secret Service protection.

Although Harry would have none of that anyway! An enjoyable and nostalgic look back into a time not so very long ago and a man who helped shape the world we live in now. Jan 04, Mark rated it really liked it. And in the summer of he did something millions of ordinary Americans do all the time, but something no former president had ever done before—and none has done since.

He took a road trip The author documents, much of their route, including gas station and restaurant stops, along with their overnight lodging. Harry chats with mechanics, cabbies, fellow diners and state troopers. The author also followed this route, while researching the book and makes interesting comments about how things have changed across the Midwest, in these plus years. Truman is one of my favorite historical figures. Someone I would love to sit down and have a beer with, plus he loved books. If you would like a little slice of American history, hop in the backseat and give this one a spin.

Oct 26, Mikey B. An entertaining and very readable yarn of when ex-president Harry Truman and his wife Bess set out from their home-town in Missouri to motor out to the East Coast to re-visit old friends. At that time there was no secret service assigned to an ex-president as a matter of fact there was not even a pension for an ex-president. They thought they coul An entertaining and very readable yarn of when ex-president Harry Truman and his wife Bess set out from their home-town in Missouri to motor out to the East Coast to re-visit old friends.

They thought they could travel incognito - and the author humorously recounts the towns, the restaurants, hotels or motels where they stayed and encountered ordinary citizens.

Harry was a very sociable fellow and handled himself remarkably well. The book abounds in delightful anecdotes and is a pleasure to read. View all 3 comments. Aug 21, Chuck rated it it was amazing. The year is Eisenhower on January 20 and in June of the same year he and his wife Bess took off in a brand new Chrysler New Yorker on a circuitous trip to Washington, D. This is a report on that trip. If you are not that familiar with Harry I suggest you try this one.

I think you will find him likeable and I think he was one of our great and underappreciated presidents. Jan 05, Patty rated it really liked it. Very interesting and fun to read. I feel as if I am in the back seat of Harry's big black car traveling the highways back in the early 50's.

View all 5 comments. Mar 09, Bev rated it liked it Shelves: Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure: From Missouri to New York and back again, this recounting of an amazing journey chronicles the road trip of a former president and his wife and their amusing, failed attempts to keep a low profile. Along the way there are brief detours into relevant topics, such as the postwar American auto industry, McCarthyism, the development of the nation's highway system, and the decline of Main Street America.

By the end of the 2,mile journey, readers will have a new and heartfelt appreciation for America's last citizen-president. It's hard not to read this utterly likable if occasionally overwrought book without feeling a tad nostalgic for the days when American automobiles set the gold standard, gas cost 27 cents a gallon, and the best restaurant in town might be found at the airport. It may make you feel a bit ironic, too, inasmuch as the impetus for the Truman escapade was a trip to Philadelphia, where the former president delivered a speech deploring Republican cuts to the defense budget.

At times, you feel as though you've wandered into an episode of "The Twilight Zone. Harry Truman, perhaps the most down-to-earth man who ever led this country, returned home to Independence, Mo. In those days, ex-presidents didn't get pensions.

Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure | Chicago Review Press

But they might be offered a free car, and Harry happily accepted a spanking-new Chrysler those were the days New Yorker. It was offered gratis, but Truman insisted on paying something -- and probably spent a whole dollar on it. A very presidential compromise. Harry had always been a car man, and now he had the best. And so, broke, out of work, he did what any red-blooded American would do under similar circumstances: He hit the road and took along the missus to make sure he didn't speed a Truman tendency.

And what an adventure they had. He got pulled over on the Pennsylvania Turnpike -- despite Bess's supervision -- stayed in motels, ate in diners.