The odds are great that, in a hundred years or so, the average person’s diaries won’t warrant that much attention. That’s just a fact of life; not everyone is as famous and/or as revered as other individuals out there. However, most of the famous diaries that we do respect in this day and age where written by men and women who had no aspirations of leaving a lasting impression when they started their journals. Things just worked out that way.
Take former American President Harry S. Truman as a perfect example of this. Of course, since he was one of America’s most influential Presidents, his diaries are considered treasures now. But long before Truman had any presidential aspirations, keeping a diary and recording his personal thoughts was just a habit. Because of this habit, of course, we now have great insight into the mind of a very important man in world history.
The 33rd President of the United States of America, Harry S. Truman was born in Lamar, Missouri in 1884. By the time he passed away in 1972 at the age of 88, Truman had accomplished more in his life than most people could accomplish in 10 lifetimes.
Truman had poor eyesight as a child, which not only prevented him from playing sports but also prevented him from earning a scholarship to West Point. With World War 1 looming, however, Truman joined the Air Force as a volunteer and worked his way up to captain before the war had ended. After the war, Truman got married and ultimately failed as a businessman. This prompted him to run for the position of county judge in Jackson County, Missouri.
By the mid 1930s, Truman was a Senator and, during World War II, it was the Truman Commission that famously investigated fraud in defense contracts. This made him a very famous, very respected politician, and Truman would ultimately become Franklin Roosevelt’s Vice President.
The unexpected death of President Roosevelt prompted Truman into the Presidency, where he would become one of the bravest, most intelligent, most influential Presidents in history, and also one of the most respected leaders in the world, helping–along with the allied forces–to defeat Germany, Japan and other hostile forces in WW II.
One of Truman’s occasional habits throughout much of his adult life was keeping personal journals. While his journals from his days outside of the Presidency might not be that intriguing or in too high a demand, it’s his many entries as America’s President which have become some of the most famous diaries ever.
Harry S. Truman’s personal diaries cover an incredibly wide range of increasingly tough decisions as Commander-in-Chief. From the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the rise and cruelty of Adolf Hitler, to the atomic bomb dropped on Japan, Truman’s diaries give personal insight as to what was inside the man’s head during these incredibly trying times.
The Second World War nearly left the entire planet in the hands of a monstrous dictator and a violent country whose honor demanded the annihilation of everyone else. And just when things started to look up, Truman’s diaries reflect the looming Cold War – the intense struggle between superpowers dealing with nuclear arms.
Truman’s personal journals are mostly kept at the Library of Congress, but the text is–at least by and large–free to read online or at other locations.