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Dewey Defeats Truman: A Novel

Mallon, Thomas

184 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0679444254 / ISBN 13: 9780679444251
Published by Pantheon Books, New York, 1997
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About this Item

355, [2] p. In Thomas E. Dewey's hometown of Owosso, Michigan, Jane Herrick mourns the loss of her son Arnie in World War II; Frank Sherwood keeps a 50-year-old secret; Anne Macmurray attempts to write a novel while working in the town bookstore; and Peter Cox is running for state senate while Jack Riley makes a career with the United Auto Workers. Binding all of these characters together is the Presidential election of 1948, when Dewey had a shot at the White House and the future sparkled with possibilities and positivism. Very good in very good dust jacket. Signed by author. DJ has slight wear, including edge wear, and soiling. First edition. Stated. First printing [stated]. Bookseller Inventory # 64141

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Dewey Defeats Truman: A Novel

Publisher: Pantheon Books, New York

Publication Date: 1997

Binding: Hardcover

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


From a writer whose last book, Henry and Clara, prompted John Updike to declare Thomas Mallon one of the most interesting American novelists at work, comes a story that perfectly captures the delightful romance and wistful magic of our recent, and more innocent, past.

Thomas Mallon has masterfully appropriated a jubilant legend (and famous headline) of modern American history -- Harry Truman's upset victory over Thomas E. Dewey in the 1948 presidential election -- and built around it a midwestern Midsummer Night's Dream.

Set in Dewey's hometown of Owosso, Michigan, this is the captivating story of a local love triangle that mirrors the national election contest. As the voters must decide between candidates, so must Anne Macmurray choose between two suitors: an ardent UAW organizer and his polar opposite, a wealthy lawyer who's certain he will ride to state Senate victory on Republican coattails.

As they weave a small-town tapestry of dreams and secrets, the people of Owosso ready themselves for the fame that is bound to shower down upon them after Dewey's "sure thing" victory.  But as the novel -- and history -- move toward election night, we watch the citizens of Owosso, Anne Macmurray and her suitors in particular, await the outcome of the election and the rearrangement of their fates in a climax filled with suspense, chagrin, and unexpected joy.


Despite what the title might imply, this isn't speculative fiction about what would have happened if Thomas Dewey had defeated Harry Truman in 1948. Rather, it's a gently comic novel set in Dewey's home town of Owosso, Michigan, in the period between his presidential nomination in June 1948 and his stunning defeat that November. The town's mania for its native son serves as a framework for the book's story, which centers on a love triangle among Peter Cox, a dashing, up-and-coming young Republican; Jack Riley, a disheveled Democratic union organizer; and Anne Macmurray, a fetching bookstore clerk and would-be novelist. They and other deftly drawn Owossoans move briskly through a plot that smoothly interweaves public and private events. The book is flavored with nostalgia for what the author has called an era with "a lack of sourness."

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