The former president presents his autobiography in the form of annotated letters, journal entries, a few speeches, and assorted documents. Like many collections of letters, this one is not uniformly interesting. Some of the scores of letters are dull, some superfluous, others patently self-serving (and readers may wonder if the many ellipses replace some of the most revealing passages). But Bush emerges as an uncomplicated, decent, thoughtful man—a man who unashamedly espouses the values of hearth, home, and friendship (and dog ownership!), who was at all times exactly what he appeared to be, who loved his wife (he says that he wants on his gravestone only these words: "He loved Barbara very much"), loved his children, loved his country. The letters are chronological—beginning with a section called "Love and War," ending with "Looking Forward"—and chronicle in surprising detail Bush's life from his 1942 enlistment in the navy to the present. In the letters (and in his accompanying notes) are some fascinating comments and events. Young Barbara (not yet his wife) was "so darn attractive"; Bill Clinton (then governor) was "a very nice man"; John Dean (the Watergate whistle-blower) was "a small, slimy guy"; Pat Buchanan could be "mean and ugly"; Barbara snores; Bush "never regretted" selecting Dan Quayle as his running mate; he was enraged at Newsweek for a cover story that suggested he was a wimp; and his "damnedest experience" was throwing up on the Japanese prime minister in 1992. Although Bush hates psychological profiles, he reveals a bit of his inner life here, most poignantly so when he admits that his loss to Clinton "hurt, hurt, hurt." Somewhat nettlesome is Bush's insistence on referring to just about everyone as a friend, close friend, or great friend. Please. One must search carefully in this large brown carpet to find the silver and golden threads—but they are there.
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