Truman: The Accidental Colossus - David McCullough

American literature essay. Literary analysis of works and characters - Sykalo Evgen 2023

Truman: The Accidental Colossus
David McCullough

Literary Analysis of David McCullough's "Truman: The Accidental Colossus"
Harry S. Truman, the 33rd president of the United States, is expertly portrayed in David McCullough's "Truman: The Accidental Colossus" biographical novel. It is a deep and perceptive examination of Truman's motivations, character, and the influence he had on history, not just a recital of events and dates. Through the lens of literary analysis, this article will examine the work, concentrating on McCullough's use of characters, themes, and narrative strategies.

Character Formation:

McCullough captures the intricacies and paradoxes of Truman in a striking portrait. Rather of being a superhuman hero, he is a human being with flaws and relatability. His ambitions, loyalty, uncertainties, and resilience are all evident. McCullough explores Truman's early years, highlighting the principles and Midwestern upbringing that influenced him. His subsequent actions, especially his dedication to the common man and his unshakable faith in democracy, are contextualized by this history.

The relationships that molded Truman are also discussed in the book, especially his union with Bess and his strong bond with Senator Richard Russell. These connections give Truman emotional support and provide insight into his thought processes. Truman's inner thoughts and motivations are deftly shown by McCullough through dialogue and internal monologues, which helps the reader identify with him even in the face of contentious judgments.


The book examines a number of major topics, such as:

The accidental president: Truman frequently felt unprepared for his sudden ascent to power. McCullough looks at how he managed the enormous burden of governing the nation amid a crisis.
The strength of common people: Truman's affinity for the average person is a recurrent motif. McCullough emphasizes how, in spite of political resistance, he attempted to use his position of authority to better the lives of common Americans.
The responsibility of making decisions: From dropping the atomic bomb to starting the Marshall Plan, Truman was compelled to make some of the most important choices in American history. McCullough illustrates the significance of these decisions and the ethical conundrums they raised.
The value of moral character Truman comes out as a person of character and tenacity in spite of his shortcomings. Even in the face of political opposition, he never wavered from his beliefs or ideals.
Storytelling Methods:

McCullough uses a number of powerful storytelling devices to make Truman's story come to life. He conjures up the sights, sounds, and smells of the time with detailed descriptions. In addition, he uses letters, historical records, and first-hand accounts to provide a feeling of authenticity and immediacy. The book has a good speed and strikes a good balance between personal views and historical context. McCullough writes in an interesting and educational way, which makes the book readable by a large number of people.

In summary:

"Truman: The Accidental Colossus" by David McCullough is a literary investigation of character, power, and the human condition rather than merely a biography. McCullough presents a complex, thought-provoking, and captivating portrait of Harry S. Truman through his deft narrative and perceptive analysis. The book showcases McCullough's skill as a biographer and is a significant contribution to the literature on American history.