Plain Speaking is the oral biography of Harry Truman. I’ve read many books about the great American leaders of the middle of the 20th century. From the good guys like Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Truman and others to the bad guys like Stalin and Hitler. But I was particularly impressed with Plain Speaking. Truman was a middle class guy who fought in World War I. He learned a great deal about leadership in the service. He became involved in local politics in Missouri, moved on to become a Senator, and helped clean up some contractor practices at the start of WWII. Truman’s rise in politics was due in part to connections he had with what we would call in Chicago “machine politicians” and because of that he was always disrespected by some. Truman helped FRD, became VP, and eventually found himself as president when FDR died. Thrust into the most important position in government at a time that was particularly critical, Truman made two of the most critical decisions in the century: One was to OK the nuclear bombings of Japan. Two was to later put the breaks on MacArthur and deescalate what was looking like the start of World War III in Korea. No one will ever know for sure whether those two decisions were good ones–at least there are arguments for either side. Eisenhower came to office after Truman. He had seen it all in World War II and wanted more than anything to set the nation on a peaceful course and let it’s citizenship breathe a little easier. Still, we found ourselves with nuclear threats and in a cold war, but Americans were able to enjoy the benefits of a post war boom. But the real threats from communism kept many awake at night, Things escalated in Vietnam, conflict carried on in the streets and in living rooms about Vietnam and Civil Rights. Things got really ugly with the King and the Kennedy’s assassinations.
Over the decades many of the good qualities in America have received much less attention. John Kennedy’s “ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country” does not ring true for way too many Americans. We need a major self-improvement program, but it starts with each one us. There are plenty of people we can point the finger at these days, but we have to improve the person in the mirror. We try to promote good things at Sporting Chance Press and will continue to do so. We remain focused on good things and good qualities. We looks at sports principles as a good way to promote virtue and life lessons.