From Roosevelt to Truman: Potsdam, Hiroshima, and the Cold War

Author(s): Wilson D. Miscamble


On April 12, 1945, Franklin Roosevelt died and Harry Truman took his place in the White House. Historians have been arguing ever since about the implications of this transition for American foreign policy in general and relations with the Soviet Union in particular. Was there essential continuity in policy or did Truman's arrival in the Oval Office prompt a sharp reversal away from the approach of his illustrious predecessor? This study explores this controversial issue and in the process casts important light on the outbreak of the Cold War. From Roosevelt to Truman investigates Truman's foreign policy background and examines the legacy that FDR bequeathed to him. After Potsdam and the American use of the atomic bomb, both of which occurred under Truman's presidency, the US floundered between collaboration and confrontation with the Soviets, which represents a turning point in the transformation of American foreign policy. This work reveals that the real departure in American policy came only after the Truman administration had exhausted the legitimate possibilities of the Rooseveltian approach of collaboration with the Soviet Union.

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'Wilson D. Miscamble has explored this transition to good effect in a meticulously researched and forcefully argued work of diplomatic history. ... From Roosevelt to Truman provides a vigorous, detailed and orthodox account of a pivotal period in US foreign policy and world history, and demonstrates that even a well-trodden area of research can be re-enlivened to stimulate further thought and debate.' Contemporary Review

Wilson D. (Bill) Miscamble, C.S.C. was born in Roma, Australia and educated at the University of Queensland. He pursued graduate studies in history at the University of Notre Dame from where he received his doctorate in 1980. He then served for two years as North American Analyst in the Office of National Assessments, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Canberra, Australia. In August of 1982 he returned to Notre Dame and entered the priesthood formation program of the Congregation of Holy Cross of which he is now a member. He was ordained a priest in 1988 and has taught at Notre Dame since then. He chaired the History Department from 1993 to 1998. His book George F. Kennan and the Making of American Foreign Policy, 1947-1950 (1992) received the Harry S. Truman Book Award. He also has authored Keeping the Faith, Making a Difference (2000), and edited American Political History: Essays on the State of the Discipline [with John Marszalek] (1997), and Go Forth and Do Good: Memorable Notre Dame Commencement Addresses (2003). He also has published a number of articles, essays and reviews and received a number of awards for his teaching at Notre Dame.

1. Preparation: the making of an (American) internationalist; 2. Inheritance: Franklin Roosevelt's uncertain legacy; 3. Initiation: tactical reversal, strategic continuity; 4. Instruction: Truman's advisers and their conflicting advice; 5. Negotiation: Truman and Byrnes at Potsdam; 6. Intimidation: Hiroshima, the Japanese and the Soviets; 7. Indecision: floundering between collaboration and confrontation; 8. Transformation: Truman's foreign policy.

General Fields

  • : 9780521862448
  • : Cambridge University Press
  • : Cambridge University Press
  • : 0.718
  • : October 2006
  • : 234mm X 156mm X 31mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Wilson D. Miscamble
  • : Hardback
  • : English
  • : 327.73009044
  • : 414
  • : ill