Decision Points

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Title: Decision Points
Author: George W. Bush
Pages: 477
Genre: Non-Fiction; Political
Publisher: Crown (Crown/Random House)
Release Date: November 9, 2010

I can just feel people on the edge as they see this book review come up in their feed readers or pop up on their screens when they go to my blog. If you've stopped to take a look at this review, then hopefully you're of the open minded sort who can hear talk of our 43rd president without unleashing a fury of expletives. Or maybe you happen to be a republican (and/or are otherwise a supporter of W, though I've never met a non-republican who is) and we can have a genial conversation. Regardless of what the majority opinion is, George W. Bush was the 43rd president of the United States and endured a difficult presidency riddled with various tragedies and hardships. In his memoir on his eight years in presidency, Bush focuses on the most critical decisions he had to make. I think this is a good read for anyone wanting to learn more about the period of our recent history just to get a better grasp of what all was happening then but also to understand where our president was coming from in the decisions he made.

For the most part, the book was very engaging. There were parts where I was as caught up in the reading and events as though it were fiction. *I realize these real events have had real consequences for real people... I mean only that the style of writing was engaging and made me want to read on/learn more.* And there were other parts that weren't quite as interesting, but overall, I found each chapter interesting in one way or another. I really like the way the book was broken up. It didn't overly focus on any one thing. Instead, it was broken up into major decisions: for instance, one chapter focuses on his decision regarding stem cell research, another on September 11th, one on Afghanistan, another on Iraq, one on Katrina, and, of course, one on the recent financial crisis. The beginning has a chapter on Personnel (I had never really put much thought into the fact that a president essentially gets to/has to hire his entire staff). I really thought breaking the chapters up by issue rather than an overall chronology made the reading easier and more interesting.

I also felt the book was honest. I was surprised at the amount of "declassified" information that was included, though some of it is necessary to understand how decisions were made. Keep in mind, as citizens of the U.S. we are still privy to very little information, and 99% of the information we do receive is filtered through the media. We don't wake up every single day with intelligence reports and security briefings. Maybe because I've never really thought too much about the government or job of the presidency before, but I thought these aspects were pretty fascinating. But I also felt it was honest because Bush admits where he made mistakes in certain places or how he would change things if he could re-do them now. In that sense, I felt this book was a pretty straight-forward telling of the presidency in the words of former President Bush.

I worried a little that with such an emphasis on the dealings with the middle east (things I am sadly ignorant of and often confused by) as well as the "war on terror" etc. that I would be terribly lost and bored. But I have to say that the chapters on Afghanistan and Iraq turned out to actually be two of the most interesting and engaging for me. These focused largely on why and how Bush made decisions related to these countries. I also picked up a lot of knowledge (or at least refresher) on my knowledge of the rest of the world.

I wish every president would publish a book like this after he has completed his term(s) in the white house. It was interesting to reflect back on everything that happened in those eight years and to see them from his point of view. I think that this book is good for all Americans, not at all just for those in the same party. That being said, those who are strongly, adamantly, opposed to Bush and his policies, or to conservatives, in general, and are not willing to look at things from another viewpoint should likely stay away from this book mainly because I know some people who I could see getting mad just because they don't agree and I hate that kind of negativity. But I hope most people out there are able to overcome that and reflect. I would love to read a book like this from every president, regardless of party, because I think it's important to understand the workings of our country (and world) as well as have an understanding of what our children, grandchildren, great-grands, etc. will be reading in their history books.


Melissa said...

I read this as well but not the full way through, just the chapters that I was the most interested in. I completely agree with you 100 percent. I think this was a great way for W to get what was going on in his head out to the world. I walked away with what I read confirming my feelings about what I thought of his presidency.

Zibilee said...

For some reason, I have not been at all curious about this book, and have not wanted to pick it up. I know a lot of people who are reading it, but it's just not my thing. I think it's interesting to hear about how the book was structured, and your reactions to it were very thoughtful though. I am glad you liked it and may have to consider picking it up for my dad, who I think will enjoy it. Thanks!

Man of la Books said...

Glad you enjoyed the book, it's bound to be fascinating but be careful of reading biographies, keep in mind that the vast majority are meant to be self-serving.

What did you think of the plagiarism charges that were levied against the book when it was published?

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

I think books are the perfect way to learn about the many sides of life. Regardless of how you feel about George Bush when he was president, he still did hold the office like you said for 8 difficult years. Hearing his side or more about some major events, does sound fascinating. I probably won't read this one and not because of my own political beliefs but because I don't read a lot of political memoirs myself.
Thank you for this honest, very insightful review. I'm impressed. ANd it seems you have been a having a good reading streak lately!! I like the non fiction change up here!

Jenny said...

Melissa: I thought that was cool... and probably sort of cathartic for W to get that out, hehe.

Heather: My father-in-law actually borrowed this book from me and we've never had any conversations about books or anything.

Michelle: I know!! I'm loving the streak! LOL!! I've been so into non-fiction lately. I've got reviews scheduled on some more really great non-fiction! And it's funny how varied the topics in the non-fiction I'm reading are.

Man of la Books: You know, I haven't done much reading about the book so I didn't even know about the controversy until I read your comment. There is a part of me that says people are saying that just to have something else to attack him about. I sort of agree with this article:
I can see where a couple things he said it looks like he took it form somewhere else, but I could see if he were to defend it that he wasn't necessarily trying to make it look like he was there at the moment or whatever. I'm not too sure what to think! It's hard for me to believe that with as well publicized as his book was going to be that they would intentionally plagiarize anything.

Kari said...

Great review, Jenny. And I agree with you completely about perspective. It's the ones who are most opposed that would probably benefit the most from reading something that is opposite their viewpoints. The world suffers enough as it is from people maintaining their own limited perspectives and opinions.

Juju at Tales of said...

Ok this sounds like something I should definitely read. Great review :)

Tina said...

My dad gave me this for Christmas and I have to agree with you..I thought it was very insightful on his pov about certain events. I think perhaps had he been this candid during his last 4 years I would not have been so upset with him. I voted for him to so its not like I was ever a Bush-hater I was just angry at his silence and disconnect towards the end.

Thoughts of Joy said...

I saw him on Oprah when it first came out and loved hearing what he had to say.

Post a Comment