Today for BookTuesday, I’ve got the autobiography of President George W. Bush, Decision Points. It’s published by Broadway Books, but I received my copy free from Waterbrook/Multnomah. Here’s the Amazon Link where you can get paperback, hardcover, or Kindle versions:
Right now, the only Presidential legacy more divisive in this country than President George W. Bush’s is President Barrack Obama’s legacy. If you want to stir up a fuss, wildly praise one or attack the other and then you’ll either hear rampant support from those who agree or vicious response from those who disagree.
Naturally, similar bickering has followed President Bush’s personal memoir, Decision Points. It is an autobiographical retrospect focused on the President’s eight-year term of office, though it touches on his pre-presidential years in the first 80 pages and recounts his post-White House time in a brief wrap-up.
In all, this book is about President Bush’s view of the events that occurred within his Presidency, from the Florida recount to walking out of the Oval Office on Inauguration Day for President Obama. He gives his views of the decisions he made and some of his reasons behind those decisions.
He does sound defensive at times through this book. This is hardly surprising: after attempting to be a strong leader during a crisis, he was often criticized for his decisions. The crises, though, rarely offered the opportunity to explain his decision-making rationale. Presenting that information now will naturally seem defensive. In truth, though, if I wrote a memoir of a previous ministry role or two, I would sound pretty defensive—criticism brings that out in many people.
The overall effect of this book was to make clear what many people thought during the opening years of the “War on Terror:” the US Government was at a complete loss of how to deal with it. President Bush virtually admits to feeling uncertain about what to do, but there was no one else that was prepared for the situation either. Rightly considered, prior Presidents, including his own father, had not truly faced terrorism alone and when they had, they had backed down from a confrontation. Moreover, clearly the rules were being made up as things went on: most of the “rules” had to do with international relations and very little clear about how to handle extra-national combatants.
Note that actually, the rules of war allow for non-uniformed combatants captured in civilian areas or non-combat areas to be executed simply for their presence under certain circumstances (Third Geneva Convention, Article 4) and President Bush could have simply adopted this idea and had any al-Qaeda fighter shot dead. He did not and rather had to adjust and re-adjust the rules of war and rules of engagement because the existing rules simply did not address the situation adequately.
The writing in this book is easily comprehended. President Bush does not try to bury the reader under odd lingo or jargon, and speaks straightforwardly. Many a blogger and preacher, myself included, could borrow from that habit. Some have stated that a ghost writer had to have done this: if so, then either President Bush had the wisdom to pick a good ghost or he writes well enough that his elitist critics can’t acknowledge he did it. Either way, the book’s in his name, so he’s responsible for it. (Look up Randy Richards’ dissertation on Paul’s use of an amanuensis for more info.)
This book well records President Bush’s view of how he handled the major decisions of his time in office. It provides his rationale, and it is easily accessible. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to get past the foxy hagiography or the timely demonification of him. Get the info from the horse’s mouth and make your decision about his legacy from there.
Disclosure: Free book in exchange for the review. Second: I no longer participate in Amazon Affiliates, so I receive no income if you click through and buy the book.