Decision Points released at the end of last year. After almost two whole years of silence, the former President returned to the public eye to promote the book and did countless interviews and speeches promoting the book and as a result his book has sold more than recent books written by recent former Presidents.
Without a doubt President Bush was one of the most controversial, and oftentimes hated, Presidents of modern times. The vitriol thrown at him on a daily basis was nonstop since the day of his election (which wouldn't officially be decided for several weeks) until today where most of what is going wrong with this country is still being blamed on Bush.
To read the book is to almost forget all of that. This is both a compliment and a critique. A compliment because it was nice to hear things from the President's perspective. From the perspective of a voting citizen that dedicated a lot of time to following the President and the days events, all we ever got was fog. Everyday was a reminder of a bias from the media and other outlets as politicians succumbed to political backbiting than actually trying to solve anything. The first two years of the Obama administration has proven this. Many of the controversial things raised during the Bush administration have been passed and continue in Obama's administration even though Bush's opponents opposed virtually all that Bush did. This is political hypocrisy and it is why many American's are tired of the program and this is the sort of hypocrisy present in every party.
It was nice to be able to sift through all of the fog fed to Americans on a daily basis and see things from the President's perspective. It is easy for us on the outside to say what we would do if we were in the President's shoes, but when we are brought inside the President's office we are humbled. The President lays it all out on the line. He goes into detail about Iraq, Afghanistan, 9/11, stem-cell research, enhanced interrogations, Katrina, and so much more. The President's primary goal isn't to defend himself, but to explain himself. The President masterfully takes the reader into his administration, presents the case for his decisions, and lets the reader decide without much of the fog that clouded his presidency.
This adds to one of my major critiques of the book: Where was any of this during Bush's presidency? Certainly Bush's awe of the office of the President prevented him from lowering himself into partisan politics of bickering, complaining, and blame shifting. However, one cannot read this book without asking the question. If Bush was this articulate and honest with the American people about the why of his decisions, perhaps the opinion polls would have been different and the last years of his presidency wouldn't have been so difficult. Certainly the President made many mistakes and he admits that in this book, but the arguments put forward in this book are reasonable. Even those who disagree with the former President will have to admit that Bush is no lightweight and certainly knew the issues he was faced with and made the best and reason decisions (from this perspective) he could make. The fact that Americans turned to a man who could articulate his views reminds us of Bush's greatest weakness. Bush failed utterly in defended himself and presenting a case to the American people.
Overall, however, this is one of the most important books to have been published in some time. Whether one liked Bush or not is irrelevant at this point. To gain a better understanding of the Presidency and to understand the decisions that our elected officials make is imperative to being a citizen and fulfilling our role as a voter. Bush's book is readable and easy to understand though the issues he present are difficult. The caricatures of Bush prevalent during his presidency are stripped away and we are presented with a man who loves his country and did the best he could given the circumstances he was given. Love him or hate him, this is a must read for every American.
Bush tackles everything in this book. Certainly I found reasons to rejoice, celebrate, and agree with the President and there were moments where I disagreed and wanted to skip to the next page. However, Bush writes honestly and invites the reader to look at the evidence, listen to his argument, and make their own decision. This is rare among politicians and presidents. Bush doesn't seem consumed with his legacy (he trusts history's unbias lenses for that), but instead offers his account of things free from all the political and media fog.
I must admit that Bush's post-presidency has impressed me. The first President I remember seeing on TV was Bush's father, Bush-41. Though I was born during the Reagan administration, I remember nothing of it. But all my life I have seen Presidents refusing to stay out of it. Refusing to retire. Instead it seems like many past presidents use their mantel as an opportunity to play president. Many are looking to insure their legacy instead of trusting their decisions to history's lens. Bush-43 on the other hand has respected his successor by staying out of the limelight. I greatly respect the President for that. He isn't interested in partisan politics or analyzing the political events of the day. He's not a pundit. He's a man who respects the office enough to not defend himself everyday. When called upon, he serves. Otherwise, he stays out as a private citizen.
If you have not read this book, read it soon. Though long, it reads very fast and well worth the investment.
Blogizomai - Decision Points: Matt Lauer and George W. Bush - The Full Interview
Short-Blogizomai - Decision Points: Sean Hannity and George W. Bush - The Full Interview
Short-Blogizomai - Decision Points: Bill O'Reilly and Geoge W. Bush - The Full Interview
Short-Blogizomai - Decision Points: The Tonight Show and George W. Bush - The Full Interview
Reviews - "Ronald Reagan"
Reviews - "The Audacity of Hope"
Reviews - "Going Rogue"
Reviews - "Abraham Lincoln: A Man of Faith and Courage"
Reviews - "The Story of Abraham Lincoln"
Reviews - "The Preacher and Presidents"
Reviews - America: The Last Best Hope - Volume 1
Reviews - "A Century Turns" by William Bennett
Reviews - "A Patriots History of America"
Reviews - "Common Sense" by Thomas Paine
Reviews - "American Gospel"
Reviews - "Lincoln's Advocate"
Reviews - "Manhunt"
Reviews - "Sarah"
Reviews - "Breach of Faith"
I have read (but not reviewed)and recommend the following books on and/or by the former President:
A Charge to Keep : My Journey to the White House
A Man of Faith: The Spiritual Journey of George W. Bush
The Faith of George W. Bush
George and Laura : Portrait of an American Marriage