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Seriously, Read a Book!

Thoughts on books, often interpreted through the high-brow prism of cartoon (read: Archer) references. Wait! I had something for this...

Currently reading

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Mike Rohde
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Oliver Burkeman
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Jean H. Baker, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.

My Father, My President: A Personal Account of the Life of George H. W. Bush

My Father, My President: A Personal Account of the Life of George H. W. Bush - Doro Bush Koch

When someone's daughter (yes, George H.W. Bush had a daughter- I was surprised too) writes a biography, you don't exactly expect it to be a hard-hitting examination of the good, bad and the ugly parts of their life. However, there is a genuine paucity of books on Bush 41 (the George Bushes took to calling each other 41 and 43 after the younger was elected president), so I thought, what they hey, I'll deal with a daughter's-eye-view, and just take it with a grain of salt. As a bonus, it was available through my library online; so I got to be both cheap and lazy about it. 


Not having examined things too closely, I started off with the abridged version of the audiobook. I'm not a big fan of "abridgings," but the full version was checked out, and see above re. my laziness. Now you'll have to trust me here when I promise you that I'm not being glib, but the abridged version of the audiobook was so full of the seemingly least interesting anecdotes that I actually thought there was a chance that there had been a mixup wherein someone was told to cut these five hours of the book, and there was some sort confusion down in editing that resulted in those same five hours actually becoming the abridged audiobook. (Remember that thing where the pilots of the Asiana plane that crashed were reported as being named Sum Ting Wong and Wi Tu Lo? These things happen!)


As a show of good faith, I actually waited patiently, and submitted myself to the full, 25-hour, unabridged audiobook to see what was up. I should have been tipped off that things weren't going to go well when I realized that author, Doro Bush Koch, had narrated only the abridged version (Marianne Fraulo was the unabridged reader), which suggests that: 1. Doro actually knew that those five hours were in the "keep" pile, and 2. Even the author couldn't bear to sit through a full reading of the 900-page tome. 


I'm trying to think of some good things to point out just to show I'm not totally cold-hearted. I found the fact that the Bushes had a daughter who died when she was three to be very sad. Forty-one reliving his Flyboys days by skydiving on his 85th birthday was pretty cool (and this story of his World War II experience was genuinely interesting). 


Bush Skydiving 85th Birthday



Too much of this book just reeked of poor me. I get it, it's an emotional roller-coaster being a family member of a politician (Doro is the only person to have been alive as both the daughter and sister of a president in office- Nabby Adams died of breast cancer before John Quincy became POTUS). At the same time, political races can be nasty business, and if the candidate is personally attacked while in the fray, it's no exception.


I guess the anecdotes of Bush lending his raincoat to a shivering lady in China (I think), or becoming fundraising partners and golf buddies with Bill Clinton (aka 42, obviously) were nice enough. I always like learning about the behind-the-scenes details for events that were simplified and summed up in the headlines (e.g. Bush puking on the Japanese Prime Minister). That being said, this was just too much of too little.


Do with this information what you will, but do so at your own risk.