Friday, April 1, 2011

Book Review: Decision Points

Disclaimer: I won't be reviewing the politics of George W. Bush's memoir. I am reviewing only its merit as a presidential memoir and his writing ability.

George W. Bush's presidential memoir is not a chronological view of his life like many presidential memoirs before him. Instead, he breaks down his life and presidency into fourteen live-changing decisions that affected him, his family, and the nation. I thought this was an interesting way to write about one's past and presidency. I have respect for the method, as it has not been done before.

Here's a list of the decisions he talks about: Quitting Drinking, Running for Office, Choosing His Cabinet, Stem Cell Research, 9/11 Response, National Defense Policy, Afghanistan, Iraq, No Child Left Behind, Hurricane Katrina, PEPFAR (Aid to Africa for HIV/AIDS), The Surge, Enhanced Interrogation, and the Bailouts.

That's just about the most controversial list of topics I can think of...

Each decision was well thought-out and researched by old members of his administration (with references galore in the back of the book). I found each point worthy of being discussed, but descriptions of why he made his decisions were too long-winded and defensive. There were, however, interesting insights into the daily life of the President that an outsider could not hope to understand.

As it is a memoir, the voice is that of President Bush. It may have been heavily edited and fact-checked, but the writing is unmistakably his. Some of his 'decision points' are better thought out than others. It's easy to empathize with his decision to stop drinking and his 9/11 response, but decisions like the bailout don't have enough evidence to back up his reasons for doing it. I say this especially because new evidence becomes available daily about why we are in this financial crisis.

What you have to realize before reading this book is that for most of these decisions he was faced with impossible decisions where to act might mean deaths of Americans, and to not act might have meant the same. It's easy to bash him while in office for decisions you disagree with, but it's enlightening to read his memoir and know his side of the story.

Bookophile Rating: Good

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