THE QUIET MAN by John H. Sununu


The Indispensable Presidency of George H.W. Bush
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A droning, 400-page toast to George H.W. Bush.

In his first book, Sununu, the former New Hampshire governor and longtime chief of staff known as “Bush’s Bad Cop,” tries to set the record straight on his old boss, relying mainly on willful blindness to his faults, a flattering reinterpretation of his failures, and a gross exaggeration of his accomplishments. Readers inclined to the view that Bush was underrated, or at the very least a decent, ethical, and kind man (no argument there), might be put off by Sununu’s starry-eyed perception of Bush as a leader whose life is a testament to his selfless love of country and whose grasp of domestic and international politics was so sure and subtle that no one saw how brilliant it was. The president’s slowness to act on getting rid of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega was just an example of a master gunslinger biding his time for the right moment. In the author’s view, Bush’s actions in Desert Storm were sure and unwavering; the Margaret Thatcher who said, “Don't go wobbly on us, George,” is nowhere to be found. The Bush who blundered so badly by saying, “Read my lips—no new taxes” isn’t the one that’s important; it’s the Bush who saw the error of his ways and nobly raised taxes anyway. All of this might be regarded as pardonable bias if the book were at least an interesting portrait. Although Sununu does have his share of anecdotes and some glimpses of life inside the White House, the book is primarily written in press release prose, thickly woven with cut-and-paste positions, platform planks, and robotic quotes from the commander in chief.

For true believers only—and even they are going to have a hard time lasting through this dull book, which actually encourages more skepticism than it erases.

Pub Date: June 9th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-06-238428-7
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2015


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