Franklin D. Roosevelt’s sudden death and the succession of Vice President Harry S. Truman stunned and worried the foreign policy establishment. Truman seemed provincial and lacked substantive experience. And yet, the former Missouri politician and senator performed superbly, thanks to his common sense, historical perspective, and able advisers. Truman responded to Europe’s collapse, Soviet Union challenges, China’s Communist takeover. And then, what did it mean to be president at the onset of the Cold War?

Dr. Noel Pugach, professor emeritus of history at UNM, specializes in US foreign relations. The author of numerous monographs and articles, he lectures frequently and does Chautauqua performances of historical figures.