I received this book from KK’s Grandad. When Kk and I started dating his Nana got really sick and passed. I, unfortunately, never had the chance to meet this amazing woman who impacted his family in so many ways. We were visiting Grandad one night and he pulled out this book for me to read. He said that Nana had started it, but wasn’t able to get past the first few pages due to her dimensia. I’m just bummed that he cut out the inscription he wrote to her on the inside cover!
An Honest Review:
This memoir isn’t one which I would normally pick off the shelves; however, in an ode to KK’s Nana, I wanted to read this book of hers in an effort to get to know her in my own way. My journey through this book has brought me closer to her.
I feel like I have a much more clear picture of what George Bush stood for, and being so young while he was president, this book is really the only impression I can go off of. Barbara provides clarity on some stories clouded by the media, and I can honestly say that after reading this book, I have no interest in watching the news. In this day and age information is available at our fingertips; however, you can’t always be sure that the information you’re receiving is 100% the truth. I’d rather read the books or the first hand accounts. Barbara said at one point, that she wishes the media wouldn’t use anonymous sources. If someone is going to the media to divulge secret information, they should be willing to show their face and stand behind their truth. I agree with that statement whole-heartedly as I see value in being authentic and honesty.
Another thing I loved about this book are the constant pop culture references. So many times while reading this book I found myself laughing out loud about different celebrities she’s come in contact with during her life in politics. My favorite example was when she talked about Arnold Schwarzenegger coming out to Camp David with his family and their beloved nanny – it even still makes me laugh! If you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know what I’m talking about, Google “Arnold Schwartzenegger Nanny”.
Barbara paints George is such a bright light. His ability to create strong relationships with the leaders other cultures and his love of the men and women who served his country were two of his traits that I felt would make a great president. Barbara’s love of books and her strong support of literacy across America made me grow to like Barbara Bush very much. As you can tell in the related reads section of this blog, she had so many recommendations for great books she’s read. If not anything else, I came away from reading this book, with an even longer reading list!
What I Learned:
I actually took away a lot of knowledge reading this book, but the most pivotal lesson I learned was that even the best reporters will try to make a story out of any bit of information they can get their hands on. If you want the truth go right to the source and always get both sides of the story.
“People would rather hear themselves talk than someone else. So when in doubt, keep quiet, listen, and let others talk. They’ll be happy, and you might learn something.”
- See all three of Leonardo da Vinci’s ladies (Portrait of a Lady with an Ermine, Mona Lisa, & Ginevra de’ Benci)
Barbara Bush knew Hillary Clinton was a strong leader even before she was even a public figure, quoting:
“…in January of 1994 when I am writing this, Hillary Rodham Clinton is certainly very much part of her husband’s decision-making process. She seems much stronger of the two.”
On China by Henry Kissinger – During George Bush’s post in China, he had a visit from Henry Kissinger. Barbara mentioned a few details about Henry Kissinger’s personality, and it immediately made me think about his recent book, On China.
Inside the Company by Philip Agee – A tell-all memoir about his career in the CIA, Philip Agee gave away a ton of CIA secrets and caused danger for several undercover employees, according to Barbara Bush. Obviously, totally up my alley for books I like, and will need to pick it up!
The Duchess of Windsor: The Secret Life by Charles Higham – Barbara mentions this book on her chapter regarding the 1988 campaign and says, “…fascinating…She certainly was a racy, determined devil!!!”. Umm how can I not want to read this book?!
The Ballad of the Whiskey Robber by Julian Rubinstein – Alright, so by the title alone, you’d wonder how these books are related, right? While I was reading Barbara Bush’s memoir, she mentioned various times about the turmoil in Romania under the rule of Ceausescu, and, ultimately, the end of his rule. The Ballad of the Whiskey Robber paints you a picture of Romania during his rule and the living conditions which forced Attila’s hand into a life of crime. Attila’s story took place in Romania alongside George Bush’s term as President.
Side note – this is why I LOVE reading non-fiction! These little coincidences from two completely unrelated books create a bridge you wouldn’t expect!
In Cold Blood by Truman Capone – Barbara Bush read a lot during the presidential campaign of 1988. This is another book she mentioned and said that the book was, “…absolutely beautifully and chillingly written.” My love of true crime and curiousity added this book to my everlong reading list.
Bush, Barbara. (1994). Barbara Bush: A Memior. New York, NY. The Easton Press.