Review of Timothy Naftali’s biography of George HW Bush

Bush with President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Image via Wikipedia

Part of The American President Series published by Times Books, an imprint of Henry Holt Timothy Naftali’s biography of 41st President of the United States is a work that brings out the multi-dimensional nature of George Herbert Walker Bush.

The father of the 43rd President of the United States, George W Bush and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush,  and the son of a former US Senator, Naftali’s portrait of Bush is spelled out in the introduction to the book where he indicates that part of his purpose is to “bring George Bush’s presidency into focus. The portrait that Naftali goes onto paint is one of a an ambitious, yet humble man who was at turns both conservative and progressive, steel-willed and emotional.

A war hero at 21,  Naftali follows Bush as he forsakes his eastern roots and moves to Texas as an oilman following graduation at Yale. He finds success and then begins to pursue a career in politics that includes a one term stint as a congressman but then broadens into a journey to the United Nations as the American Ambassador and Director of Central Intelligence Agency and then on to a failed Presidential bid followed by an election as Ronald Reagan’s Vice-President in 1980 and the into the Presidency in 1988.

Highly readable, this biography of George HW Bush, while at turns sharp and critical and then respectful and broadly affirming, provides us with a good introduction to the last World War 2 veteran who would serve as President. A President who will continue to be assessed, along with his Presidential son, in the years to come.


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