Review by Booklist Review
An alternative title for this tome might have been Graciousness and Practicality. President George H. W. Bush's generous behavior toward family, friends, and strangers is evident throughout Meacham's highly readable book. But Bush grew up in a family where winning was highly prized, and the lesson was not lost, especially when his career was politics. So sometimes beliefs had to be sacrificed, as when he had to support the GOP platform, which was further right than he liked, to obtain the vice-presidential slot in the 1980 election. Best-selling, Pulitzer Prize-winning political biographer Meacham (Thomas Jefferson, 2012) was granted access to diaries and tape recordings, and he conducted a series of interviews with Bush over a number of years, as well as with those closest to him, personally and professionally. Meacham has to walk quite a tight line here, as the designated biographer (he did allow the former president to look over the finished manuscript), while presenting a multisided portrait of the man. For the most part, he does so gracefully, though in perhaps a preemptive strike against those who might find this a bit too flattering, he notes the book is not a complete life-and-times biography but, rather, an attempt to give readers a sense of a singular and complicated man. Most of the headline-worthy revelations were leaked early including Bush's disdain for Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld but this book is so much more than those scattered sentences. In Zelig-like fashion, George H. W. Bush was present at many of the most important events of the last 65-plus years, and the remarkable story of his life and times comes vividly alive in the words of this highly skilled writer.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2015 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Though a stage and screen actor, Michael reads-rather than performs-this biography of the 41st president of the United States. The text is full of quotes from the diaries Bush and his wife, Barbara, kept throughout their lives, and from the books and diaries of numerous political figures. Michael always manages to make it clear who is speaking without trying to create voices for each of these people. Meacham paints a portrait of a man who believes in loyalty, honesty, and necessary political compromise, only on rare occasions allowing his fierce ambition to overcome his code of honor. As a presidential candidate at the 1988 Republican National Convention, he truly believed in his winning line, "Read my lips: no new taxes." While Michael has exhibited his acting acumen in other audiobooks, he's right to read this one in a steady, straightforward voice. A Random House hardcover. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review
An admiring life of the president who navigated the end game of the Cold War and stood up to Saddam Hussein.The more time that passes from the end of George H.W. Bush's one-term presidency, the more important he seems to grow, perhaps in contrast to the more dynamic and obviously flawed personalities of the presidents that served before and after him. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Meacham (Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, 2012, etc.), working in cooperation with Bush, his wife, Barbara, and their family, does a fine job of revealing the makeup of the man, destinedby virtue of his Eastern Ivy League pedigree and as second son of Prescott Bush, future Connecticut senatorfor greatness. Competitive by nature, steady, and dependableWorld War II pilot, devoted husband, and loyal Republican Party operativeBush was decent perhaps to a fault. Americans seem to like their presidents given to grand gestures (see Teddy Roosevelt), but this went against Bush's buttoned-up, discreet style, to his frequent political misfortune. "He was a victim, in a way, of his instinct for dignity," writes Meacham. Bush's innate dignity indeed proved problematic early on with his move to big-oil Texas to set up roots in the late 1950s. The move was an attempt to forge his own destiny apart from his aristocratic East Coast family, but he never quite fit in. Part of Bush's early agony was caused by adopting positions that were far more conservative and right wing than were consistent with his true viewsand then having to reverse them. In the end, he emerged from being eclipsed by larger personalities (Reagan, James Baker, Lee Atwater) to forge a steady, effective course during the world perils in Europe, China, and Iraq. In this meticulously researched but perhaps overlong biography, Meacham does his best with this "underwhelming" but noble subject. A revealing biography that should serve as the starting point for future evaluations of the 41st president. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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