Regardless of what box you check when you go to the polls, memoirs by presidents should be read by everyone. They expose the daily challenges of the office of President, the human reality of facing the stress and pressure of the job, and offer a unique perspective on the major issues of a presidency. That being said, I really enjoyed reading “Decision Points” by President George W. Bush.
W arranges his book around the major “decisions” he had to make during his eight years as president. It is not chronological and I think that enabled him to be more creative in the way he explained his choices and policies to readers. I started this book right after Christmas and though it took me a while to finish, I think it is a fascinating read. Each chapter/decision reads as its own separate tale, so the fact that it took me so long to finish was not as big of a deal as it can be when reading a novel.
When I stopped to ponder the book after I closed it for the last time, the thing that resonated with me the most is the chapter on 9/11. I would encourage anyone who is doubtful about the book to read that chapter first. It is powerful, you will cry, and it will take you back to where you were the day of the terrorist attacks. Reading about W’s emotions, decisions, and pain (he is quite open about that experience) left me speechless and thankful for our leadership that has prevented an attack like that from happening again.
I also enjoyed getting a glimpse into the President’s personal struggles that he is quite open about. He is open about his battle with alcohol and his decision to give it up forever, his relationship with his father — they did disagree on policy several times, and what life was like in the White House during his administration. I loved reading about the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office and what the energy is like in that room. I also loved reading the way he described the emotions of all of his decisions. Even reading about his last day in the White House and his last walk with the dog gave a glimpse into the emotions of leaving office, something I had not really thought about.
The last “decision” W talks about involves the beginnings of our economic crisis. Perhaps because I was a senior in college or maybe because I was in denial and didn’t want to listen to what was happening, I had never really understood all of the details that led to the beginning of the recession. This chapter really explains the situation well, in lamens terms, and the decisions The Fed had to make to curb what Ben Bernanke feared and deemed a real possibility, a second Great Depression.
Anyway, I would definitely recommend this book — to my Republican friends, to my Democrat friends, to my friends who don’t really know where they stand — you should all read it. It will offer incredible insight into what the leader of our country was thinking for eight years of your life.