DECEMBER 30, 2020
BOOKS BY “XX” with ”YY”
AND HARRY TRUMAN
One suspects that much fiction or even history or social science books written today are the product of the named author’s work but with the help in varying degrees of researchers. Sometimes, authors give their researchers equal billing as “coauthors.” Sometimes, they acknowledge the researchers work as ‘with” so-and-so, the researcher.
One need not be a complete cynic to assume that at times, these allegations of respective roles in the work are, shall we say, exaggerated or even fictitious. Could it be that a young mystery writer who cannot induce a publisher to promote his work might have more success with publishers if he designates an accomplished writer as co-author? And, to round out this exercise in publishing dishonesty, might a recognized author take a less well recognized author’s work and claim it as his own with acknowledgement for the author whose contribution is even greater?
Chris Wallace, a well-respected, and deservedly so, media commentator authored a book “with Mitch Weiss” : Countdown 1945 (Avid Reader Press). Mitch Weiss has eleven books on Goodreqads with 14091 ratings. Mr. Weiss’s most popular book is Countdown 1945.
Sounds good. The book is a telling review of U.S. efforts to develop an atomic weapon and to have it dropped on two Japanese cities in August of 1945. Those events are widely seen, as the book reports, as incidents that convinced the Japanese to surrender unconditionally to the U.S. It also makes the less well received, though widely received, notion that the bombing saved the lives of many U.S. servicemen who would have died in a U.S. invasion of the Japanese mainland. The text, in the opinion of some, however, does not give sufficient attention to the possibility that less murderous actions might have ended the war without an invasion.
But, that failing, if it is a failing, is not the subject of this comment. The subject here is a minor point, an account of a conversation in President Harry Truman’s vehicle while he was being driven by a military chauffer from a meeting with Churchill and Stalin to the house where he was staying in Potsdam, Germany.
According to the authors of this book, an event occurred in that vehicle that prompts this criticism. During the drive, according to these writers, an Army “public relations officer,” took a seat in the vehicle. (This is the first of the hard to believe events described on page 178). Someone apparently unknown or little known to the President was able to sit in the backseat of a vehicle transporting the president in Potsdam during a break in discussions with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and the Premier of the U.S.S.R, to the building where the residence where the President was staying. A much more questionable assertion follows, for the book next claims that this guest told the president of the United States that he, the guest, could arrange female companionship for Harry Truman. (Really?) And then there are more incredible revelations. According to the authors (or one of them) Mr. Truman declined the offered service with “Hold it, don’t say anything more.” . . . .”I love my wife, my wife is my sweetheart. I don’t want to do that kind of stuff. I don’t want you ever to say that again to me.”
Those who live through Truman’s presidency or are students of Truman biographies cannot by any stretch of these authors’ imagination believe that story.
First, no one, absolutely no one such as this “information officer” could enter that vehicle at that time in Potsdam with such an agenda. It stretches belief that such a person on such an errand could have sat in the backseat with the President. Security must have been tight enough that only one on serious business with the President could have squeezed himself into that backseat.
Second, no “information officer” with an ounce of sense would risk the displeasure of the Commander in Chief with such a vulgar, bold, and stupid, proposal to a man widely regarded as straight-laced.
There follows in the authors’ account, and, as I see it, the most unconvincing part of all in this story, the response the president supposedly made about “loving his wife,” etc.
Had this officer actually made it into the vehicle (questionable point No. 1) and had he been stupid enough to make the proposal (unbelievable point No. 2), HST’s response could not in any case have been what these two authors claim it was (unbelievable point No. 3).
Those who have read anything serious about HST can tell you in unison what Harry Truman would have said in response to what this fictitious(?) information officer idiot suggested.
Here’s what Harry Truman would have said:
“Driver, pull over to the curb at your first opportunity, so that this information officer can get out of the vehicle and walk his ass back to wherever it is that he is supposed to be.”
That’s what Harry Truman would have said. (Or something just like it.)