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W. has his say.

In a page-turner structured around important decisions in his life and presidency, Bush surprises with a lucid, heartfelt look back. Despite expected defenses of past decisions, Bush is candid and unafraid to say when he thinks he was wrong. Critics on both the left and right are challenged to walk in his shoes, and may come away with a new view of the former president—or at least an appreciation of the hard and often ambiguous choices he was forced to make. Aside from the opening chapter about his decision to quit drinking, the book is not chronologically ordered. Bush mixes topics as needed to tell a larger story than a simple history of his administration. Certain themes dominate the narrative: the all-encompassing importance of 9/11 to the bulk of his presidency, and how it shaped and shadowed almost everything he did; the importance of his faith, which is echoed in every chapter and which comes through in an unassuming manner; the often unseen advisor whom the president conferred with and confided in on almost every subject—his wife, Laura Bush; and the wide array of people who helped him rise to the White House and then often hindered him once he was there. The book is worthwhile for many reasons. Even if many readers may not agree with his views on the subjects, Bush’s memories of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and other major events are riveting and of historical value on their own. Additionally, Bush provides insight into the daily life of the president. The author accepts blame for a number of mistakes and misjudgments, while also standing up for decisions he felt were right.

Honest, of course, but also surprisingly approachable and engaging.

Pub Date: Nov. 9th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-307-59061-9
Page count: 512pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2010


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