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The Proverbial Harry S. Truman

An Index to Proverbs in the Works of Harry S. Truman

Wolfgang Mieder and George B. Bryan

Harry S. Truman was not only a major political figure of the twentieth century, he was also a skilled communicator who was proud of his plain speaking. His letters, speeches, news conferences, memoirs, and other books are filled with elements of folk speech. Proverbs, proverbial expressions, and proverbial comparisons play an especially important rhetorical and communicative role, both in his personal relationships with family members and on the visible stage of regional, national, and international politics. This book begins with an introductory essay that discusses and analyzes the importance of proverbial language in Truman's published works. The bulk of the volume is a key-word index to the occurrence of proverbs in his writings, with the proverbs arranged according to the most significant word in the text. The quotation from Truman is accompanied by a citation to the source in his works consulted. Each entry also provides references to standard proverb dictionaries, which readers may consult to learn more about the history of a particular proverbial utterance. An appendix overviews the frequency of proverbs in Truman's writings. The interpretive essay together with the index clearly demonstrate that Harry S. Truman knew how to use proverbs effectively as colorful and accessible folk wisdom to communicate complex political ideas.