Truman and the Coming of the Cold War
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Contrary to Roosevelt’s hopes, suspicion, mistrust and fear would come to be defining characteristics of American foreign policy for the next four decades. His successor, Harry S. Truman, betrayed few of the attributes which would in time reveal him as the most substantial president of the post-war era. Little, it seemed, connected him to his predecessor beyond a common devotion to the politics of the Democratic Party. While Roosevelt was educated at Groton and Harvard, Truman had never attended college. The young Roosevelt travelled widely in Europe; Truman’s only experience of the outside world was as an artillery officer in France during the previous war. Truman’s entire experience was of domestic politics, his skill in the Senate being precisely what had recommended him to Roosevelt as a running-mate in 1944. No president in American history, faced as he was with the task of ending the war and reconstructing the post-war world, had a more daunting challenge, made no lighter by the fact that he had not been elected to the job. But if he was ignorant of the nuances of international politics, he had all the strength of character of someone who had risen through his own efforts.
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