Colloquy Downeast Blue Hill Maine

Colloquy Downeast

Spirited Conversations in Great Company

FacilitatorTim Thomas
Date & TimeFebruary 2, 9, 16, 23 (Tuesdays)
1:00 - 3:00pm
LocationBass Room, Blue Hill Public Library

This colloquy will reflect upon the life of Harry S. Truman—from farm boy to plain-speaking president of the United States. Readings will include a biography of Truman and essays on various topics including the atomic bomb, the Potsdam conference, the Marshall Plan, the Truman Doctrine and Berlin airlift and other events from the end of World War II to the beginnings of the Cold War and the Korean War. Film clips of Truman will also be seen. Also, the colloquy will consider his friends—among others Pendergast to Acheson and Marshall. At the end, participants may be asked to consider how an ordinary man could achieve such extraordinary results.

Lowell (Tim) Thomas is a retired Philadelphia lawyer who was an English major in college, but now enjoys reading and discussing American history.

  ▼ Syllabus


Welcome to the Colloquy. For some of us, the Colloquy will revisit events occurring when we were in school or college. In this sense it will be a history of the Cold War, the Korean War, recognition of Israel, founding of the UN, and many domestic issues arising after World War II.

There is a lot to consider in four short meetings. Hopefully, we can be guided by the following schedule (see Reading Materials for texts):

  • Session I. Ancestors, Family, Education, Social Life, Army Service, Marriage and Politics, Senate and his reelection to second term in pages 3-248 (Hanby) or 15-252 (McCullough).
  • Session II. Emergence of Senator Truman, Election as Vice-President and subsequently becoming president, Challenges of the office and the world, in pages 249-451 (Hanby) or 253-620 (McCullough).
  • Session III. Election of 1948, Korea, Israel, Jos. McCarthy, Gen. MacArthur, Life Style and family, “Scandals,” NATO in pages 451-599 (Hanby) or 621-856 (McCullough).
  • Session IV. Leaving the White House and Looking back in pages 599-641 (Hanby) or 857-992 (McCullough).

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  ▼ Reading Materials

Reading Materials

As basic texts, I am suggesting either of:

  • Man of the People, A Life of Harry S. Truman by Alonzo L. Hanby (Oxford University Press 1995) [Amazon]
  • Truman by David McCullough (Simon & Schuster 1992) [Amazon][BHPL].

Both are lengthy, but as we go I can suggest some nuggets in each that should not be skipped over lightly. Both books are available in paperback. In each biography, you are reading of historical events but also of the character and personality of Harry Truman.

If you are looking for something less hefty than the Hanby or McCullough biographies, you might consider one of the following Harry S. Truman by Robert Dallek (Henry Holt & Co. 2008) or Citizen Soldier by Aida D. Donald (Basic Books 2012).

For comments by and about President Truman, Plain Speaking by Merle Miller (Tess Press 1974) is a gathering of comments by him on the numerous personalities with whom he had contact, about the events of his life and comments of others about him and what he had done. These offer special insights into Truman’s personality. Another book with numerous reflections by Truman on history and persons is Where the Buck Stops edited by his daughter Margaret Truman (Warner books 1989).
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  ▼ Registration


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