Book Talk: David L. Roll — Ascent to Power

Politics and Prose
5015 Connecticut Avenue Northwest
Washington, D.C. 20008

When Roosevelt, in failing health, decided to run for a fourth term, he gave in to the big city Democratic bosses and reluctantly picked Senator Truman as his vice president, a man he barely knew. Upon FDR’s death in April 1945, Truman, after only 82 days as VP, was thrust into the presidency. Utterly unprepared, he faced the collapse of Germany, a Europe in ruins, the organization of the UN, a summit with Stalin and Churchill, and the question of whether atomic bombs would be ready for use against Japan. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union was growing increasingly hostile towards US power. Truman inherited FDR’s hope that peace could be maintained through cooperation with the Soviets, but he would soon learn that imitating his predecessor would lead only to missteps and controversy.

Spanning the years of transition, 1944 to 1948, Ascent to Power illuminates Truman’s struggles to emerge as president in his own right. Yet, from a relatively unknown Missouri senator to the most powerful man on Earth, Truman’s legacy transcends. With his come-from-behind campaign in the fall of 1948, his courageous civil rights advocacy, and his role in liberating millions from militarist governments and brutal occupations, Truman’s decisions during these pivotal years changed the course of the world in ways so significant we live with them today.

David L. Roll is the author of George Marshall and The Hopkins Touch, and the coauthor of Louis Johnson and the Arming of America (with Keith McFarland), a biography of Harry Truman’s defense secretary. After serving as an Assistant Director in the Bureau of Competition at the FTC, Roll practiced law as a partner at Steptoe & Johnson LLP and founded Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation, a public interest organization that continues to provide pro bono legal services to social entrepreneurs around the world. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Roll will be in conversation with John Sanders, an enthusiastic follower of Washington, DC history, who has made a career advising publishing, media and technology companies with Bond & Pecaro, Inc. He frequently speaks to various media and communications organizations, has published over 30 articles, and routinely serves as an expert witness on communications and media economics and related issues.

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