Published in 2010
By Crown Publishers
New York, NY
"The nature of the presidency is that sometimes you don't choose which challenges come to your desk. You do decide how to respond." - George W. BushDecision Points is not your typical memoir, that is not if you're expecting a chronological retelling of George W. Bush's life. Instead, President Bush chose to focus on key decision points within his lifetime and by doing so, he presents a thorough picture of his background and what has made him the man he is today. Of course, because this is a presidential memoir it should come as no surprise that the majority of the book focuses upon decisions made during the eight years he served as President of the United States.
Over the years I have found that some of the most fascinating reads are those written by or about people who have had a direct impact on the world in which I live, particularly books about American history and the American people. So it was with great interest and curiosity that I picked up President Bush's memoir, Decision Points. And I am happy to report that I was not disappointed.
From start to finish I found Decision Points to be a fascinating read of current events and recent history. We're not talking nitty-gritty gossip, but the key info as to the why and how President Bush made decisions, both personal and public.
If you think you already have the whole story when it comes to George W. Bush because you read the newspapers or watched the evening news, think again; there are always two sides to every story.
When making any decision I believe it is valuable to hear the "objective" outside view, but I also believe it is extremely valuable to include the perspective of the person on the "inside", the one making the decisions. One can read any number of books on the American Revolution, but to truly understand what life was like and why the Founding Fathers made the decisions they did one must read the personal writings of the founders, as well as books that detail their life and beliefs. In essence, until you learn what made them tick you cannot truly understand why they acted as they did. The same can be said of any modern statesman. Whether you agree with the person or not, you won't stand a chance of ever understanding why they act a certain way or believe a certain thing if you don't take the time to hear their point of view.
As far as the writing style, Decision Points is a easy read. Although President Bush addresses some complicated issues and details he doesn't let the reader get bogged down. His writing is simple, but intelligent and to the point. He says it like it is and doesn't mince words; even when admitting his own mistakes. He comes across as a humble man of faith; not at all one who plays pious or lives a life of hypocrisy. (One may wish me to note there was a smattering of profanity in the book, but always when quoting a previous conversation usually between one politician and another.) President Bush is mostly unapologetic about the decisions he made throughout his political and legislative career stating in the epilogue, "I knew some of the decisions I had made were not popular with many of my fellow citizens. But I felt satisfied that I had been willing to make the hard decisions, and I had always done what I believed was right." (pg. 474)
And that is actually what I admire most about President Bush. Regardless of what others think of his presidency or of him as a person, I personally admire that he took in all the facts, discussed and considered the options, and in the end always made the decision based on what he truly believed was right and good, not for his reputation or career, but for the country as a whole. He was a true example of a politician, one who serves the public not themselves.
Being president of the United States is quite an honor. Only 44 men have held the position in the last 222 years. You don't get on that list just because you want the job. Nor do you get there because you're popular. You get there because you have the experience, the courage, and the leadership to hold the position and you have earned the trust of millions of Americans. I hope those who read President Bush's memoirs do not read it with the goal to nitpick the past, but instead read it with an open mind so as to better understand the man who led the free world for the first eight years of this new millennium, through some of the most difficult decision points of American history.
In the end as President Bush points out within his memoir, history will be the final judge. If historians and critics can still mull over and argue about decisions made by our first president, George Washington 200+ years after his presidency ended, it will be some time before anyone comes to a final conclusion about the presidency of George W. Bush.
Random House Publishers: Decision Points
Kindle: Decision Points ($14.99)
George W. Bush Presidential Library
The White House: George W. Bush (#43)
Review: Spoken From the Heart by Laura Bush