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ProductsMore About Destiny and Power by Jon MeachamOverviewIn this brilliant biography, Jon Meacham, the Pulitzer Prize winning author, chronicles the life of George Herbert Walker Bush. 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.
George H. W. Bush s life was defined by the tension between his consuming ambition and his fundamental decency and desire to serve. In campaigns his ambition would win out, and he learned to run hard. In office, Bush tended to set aside harsh tactics, often putting his view of the national interest ahead of his own political well-being.
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.
Advance praise for "Destiny and Power"
This astonishing book is both timely and timeless. Based on candid interviews and intimate letters and diaries, it provides a deep insight into the character of George H. W. Bush, flavored with colorful anecdotes depicting his relationships with people ranging from Gorbachev and Reagan to his sons George and Jeb. The result is a fascinating and insightful portrayal of the life of an exemplary American citizen. Walter Isaacson
Jon Meacham s timely and intimate biography of George Bush 41 is a welcome reminder of this modest president s call to service, from the cockpits of World War II to the Oval Office and the end of the Cold War. Here you ll meet a man of patrician manners, wartime heroics, Texas assimilation, party and personal loyalty, with a refined sense of power that carried him into history. Meet the George Bush you didn t know. Tom Brokaw"
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Publishers Weekly Reviews
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-01-18
- Reviewer: Staff
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.)