Title: Decision Points
Author: George W. Bush
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.