Book Review - Decision Points

By Suzanne Gougherty | 

Leading up to the election – I’ve picked two books on former US presidents, one from each party.  This week’s review is Decision Points by George W. Bush

First and foremost, let me begin by saying, I was never a fan of George W. Bush, but I thought he was an interesting person. Back in 2017, he was featured in a TV interview about his collection of paintings honoring the sacrifice and courage of America’s military and veterans during various conflicts, such as the Iraq war. That was when I had a change of heart, not about his political policies, but about him as a person.

In his memoir, Decision Points, I liked the way he presented his story of the early days. Bush touches on his personal life; why he quit drinking, his love of family, and his relationship with his father. But that aside, the memoir is more about the critical decisions he was confronted with while serving in the Oval office.   

Chapter 5, titled - Day of Fire, is a pivotal point in the book. His description of the 9/11 attacks was extremely telling. He doesn’t go into detail about Iraq and Afghanistan; about not finding weapons of mass destruction, the deployments of additional troops into Iraq, the extended tour of army and marine troops; he leaves the reader wondering. He also speaks about his failure to capture Osama bin Laden and the big disappointment he felt.

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Each of the fourteen chapters touches on a distinct event or policy issue from the 9/11 attacks and its aftermath, Katrina and “the Surge”, up to and including the 2008 financial crisis.   Bush's voice comes through loud and clear; he defends his many gut-wrenching decisions, regardless of the backlash he knew he would endure from the media.  While reading I began to feel like “dang I know this guy” and felt the heavyweight he carried throughout his presidency.

Most interesting is after 100-plus pages, it dawned on me that he doesn’t do ANY finger-pointing at other political figures or anyone else. I found this so darn refreshing, actually inspiring.  He admits to his mistakes and blunders, again refreshing, especially with what we currently see and hear inside the beltway. He discusses how he failed on immigration policy and how he was perceived during the Katrina crisis and what he could have done better.  

The book is peppered with W’s humor. It also references his beloved mom, and how she razes him on occasion. It was a good read…Enlightening. It left me understanding his deep care for our country, its citizens and the preservation of democracy. 

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