Truman's first impression of Joseph Stalin was favorable. "Truman had that very American idea," says historian David McCullough, "that if he could just meet the fellow, shake his hand, look him in the eye, size him up, then they could work together, work things out, and everything would be okay."
Narrator: "A few minutes before 12:00," Truman wrote. "I looked up from my desk and there stood Stalin in the doorway."
"I got to my feet and advanced to meet him. He put out his hand and smiled."
One day Truman and Stalin would confront each other as enemies in the most dangerous ideological conflict in all of history. But on July 17 the United States and the Soviet Union were allies who had just defeated a terrible enemy. Both men were cordial and friendly.
Alonzo Hamby, Biographer: Truman was rather impressed by Stalin. He thought that here was a tough guy. Stalin struck him as frank and straightforward, a sort of political boss type, who would keep his word once he gave it.
Narrator: Truman said later that Stalin reminded him of the Missouri kingpin Tom Pendergast.
David McCullough, Biographer: Joseph Stalin was nothing like Tom Pendergast. This was one of the most blood thirsty, murdering, evil men of our time.
But Truman had that very American idea -- that old, American idea - that if he could just meet the fellow, shake his hand, look him in the eye, size him up -- that they could work together, work things out. And everything would be o.k.
Narrator: "I can deal with Stalin," Truman wrote. "He is honest but smart as hell." Stalin was less sanguine. He told an aide that Truman was worthless. The Soviet dictator had already determined that he would surrender nothing of any consequence when the bargaining began.
From Joseph Smith's discovery of gold tablets to persecution, migration, and settlement in Utah, the film explores the history of the most American of religions.
"The Wizard of Menlo Park," Inventor Thomas Edison, built the first practical light bulb and revolutionized the world.
A civil rights leader in Harlem before entering politics, Powell was one of the most charismatic black leaders of the 20th century.
Martha Ballard was a midwife and mother in Maine following the American Revolution.
Football coach Knute Rockne of Notre Dame was a pivotal figure in the sudden rise of sports to a position of power in American culture.
In 1936 Angie Debo uncovered the U.S. government's theft of Native Americans' oil rich lands in Indian Territories of Oklahoma.
The life story of Aimee Semple McPherson, religious evangelist instrumental in bringing conservative Protestantism into mainstream culture.
With data compiled from tens of thousands of sex questionnaires, Alfred Kinsey changed America's views about sex with the Kinsey Reports.