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Destiny and power : the American odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush
2015
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America's 41st president shines as a nice guy with an edge of steel in this admiring biography. Pulitzer-winning historian Meacham (American Lion) styles Bush as the embodiment of Greatest Generation virtues: hard-working, dutiful, patriotic, well-mannered, friendly, fair-minded, and increasingly out of step with the ugly partisanship of latter-day politics. But beneath the soft affability he detects a fiercely competitive drive and go-it-alone nerve, especially when Bush decided to risk impeachment by launching the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq even without Congress's authorization. With access to Bush's genial-to-peevish diaries and extensive interviews with Bush, the author paints a warm, evocative portrait of a president who in office was tagged as a wimpy blur, one that supports later historical opinion in saluting his deft pragmatism in navigating the collapse of Soviet communism. But Meacham soft-pedals contradictions in Bush's character, like the very ungentlemanly 1988 presidential campaign against Michael Dukakis; and though Bush inaugurated America's resurgent military interventionism in the Middle East, a geopolitical watershed whose profound repercussions are still playing out, the book asks few serious questions about that troubled legacy. This is a vivid, well-written account that doesn't quite come to grips with its subject's pivotal place in history. Photos. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (Nov.)

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"'He was the last of a kind, and his rise, his fall, and his rebirth in the twilight of his life offers a window on a great deal of American history.' Meacham creates an intimate and detailed life story of a man whom many know only through his politics, or from a distance. From interviews and exclusive access to Bush's presidential diaries, Meacham brings Bush and the great American family he came from, vividly to life, beginning with the family's story working in a tool company in the Midwest in the late 1800's and on through George H.W. Bush's childhood in Connecticut, his heroic service in World War II, his decision to strike out on his own and try to create an oil business in Texas, to his political rise to be congressman, ambassador to the U.N., head of the CIA, vice president, then president, and the only man since John Adams to see his son become president. Written with Meacham's trademark compelling narration and historical depth and contemporary insight, this stunning biography reveals the unusual self-reflections, as well as the distinctive American life of a man from the Greatest Generation who pursued a life of service as a guardian of America in the way of Eisenhower, and was one of the last gentlemen in our political world"--Provided by publisher. - (Baker & Taylor)

Draws from private interviews and access to Bush's diaries and family to present an intimate portrait of the forty-first president, detailing his family's origins, his childhood, his military service, and his business and political achievements. - (Baker & Taylor)

Draws on exclusive sources to provide a portrait of the 41st president that traces the Bush family's humble 19th-century origins, his Connecticut childhood, his military service, his business achievements and his political accomplishments. By the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Lion. - (Baker & Taylor)

Draws on exclusive sources to provide a portrait of the 41st president that traces the Bush family's humble 19th-century origins, his Connecticut childhood, his military service, his business achievements and his political accomplishments. By the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Lion. Illustrations. Map(s). Tour. - (Random House Inc)

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In this brilliant biography, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Jon Meacham chronicles the life of George Herbert Walker Bush.

NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST AND ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • Time • NPR • St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Drawing on President Bush’s personal diaries, on the diaries of his wife, Barbara, and on extraordinary access to the forty-first president and his family, Meacham paints an intimate and surprising portrait of an intensely private man who led the nation through tumultuous times. From the Oval Office to Camp David, from his study in the private quarters of the White House to Air Force One, from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the first Gulf War to the end of Communism, Destiny and Power charts the thoughts, decisions, and emotions of a modern president who may have been the last of his kind. This is the human story of a man who was, like the nation he led, at once noble and flawed.

His was one of the great American lives. Born into a loving, privileged, and competitive family, Bush joined the navy on his eighteenth birthday and at age twenty was shot down on a combat mission over the Pacific. He married young, started a family, and resisted pressure to go to Wall Street, striking out for the adventurous world of Texas oil. Over the course of three decades, Bush would rise from the chairmanship of his county Republican Party to serve as congressman, ambassador to the United Nations, head of the Republican National Committee, envoy to China, director of Central Intelligence, vice president under Ronald Reagan, and, finally, president of the United States. In retirement he became the first president since John Adams to see his son win the ultimate prize in American politics.

With access not only to the Bush diaries but, through extensive interviews, to the former president himself, Meacham presents Bush’s candid assessments of many of the critical figures of the age, ranging from Richard Nixon to Nancy Reagan; Mao to Mikhail Gorbachev; Dick Cheney to Donald Rumsfeld; Henry Kissinger to Bill Clinton. Here is high politics as it really is but as we rarely see it.

From the Pacific to the presidency, Destiny and Power charts the vicissitudes of the life of this quietly compelling American original. Meacham sheds new light on the rise of the right wing in the Republican Party, a shift that signaled the beginning of the end of the center in American politics. Destiny and Power is an affecting portrait of a man who, driven by destiny and by duty, forever sought, ultimately, to put the country first.

Praise for Destiny and Power

“Should be required reading—if not for every presidential candidate, then for every president-elect.”The Washington Post

“Reflects the qualities of both subject and biographer: judicious, balanced, deliberative, with a deep appreciation of history and the personalities who shape it.”The New York Times Book Review

“A fascinating biography of the forty-first president.”The Dallas Morning News - (Random House, Inc.)

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