41: A Portrait of My Father by George W. Bush
I confess, after reading 41: A PORTRAIT OF MY FATHER, I have a new, deeper respect for the former president. This is one GREAT MAN--there is no other way to put it. Honestly, his record of service is astonishing, beginning with becoming a pilot at age 18, all the way to being elected President #41. I make no excuses about it--this man's accomplishments are mind-boggling!
President 41 is at heart, a decent, kind, family man. Not so much a partisan politician at all. That makes it all the more surprising that George H.W. Bush ever became a president. A few sections of the book I thought were really special. I really love the picture of President 41 in the plane, "Barbara III." My second favorite picture was 41 meeting Babe Ruth. I had no idea that 41 was president of the Yale baseball team.
Another fascinating section is his time at the CIA. "George Bush cared deeply about the CIA's mission and people. He found the work fascinating; his inquisitive nature was sated by the agency's cadre of brilliant agents. Remarkably, in just one year, he developed a strong bond with the people of the CIA. " And, "True to his word, dad stayed out of out of politics throughout his time at the CIA. "
41: A PORTRAIT OF MY FATHER is first of all, a story of a son's affection for his father. If you really dislike the Bush family, then it's doubtful this book will change your attitude. Much of this book is actually not even about politics--it's about family events, relations among the siblings, and the interaction between the two men. Even though 41 is not primarily a political book, there are still some very juicy, intriguing political historical notes. The events surrounding the resignation of Richard M. Nixon are perhaps the most interesting--at least to me. Perhaps it has been documented elsewhere, but I had no idea that President 41 had taken such a firm line in writing a letter to Nixon, exhorting Nixon to resign immediately, for the good of the nation.
There are funny parts in this book as well. The former president loves to lure unsuspecting visitors into his powerful speed boat. Then, he cranks up the throttle, putting terror in the hearts of his visitors--even President Putin of Russia and his entourage. Perhaps the most poignant section of 41 is the account of President 41 apparently near death, barely conscious in the hospital. After a brief encounter in the hospital, the whole family left his room, crying--believing the former president was about to die, and that had been their final visit.
All in all, I enjoyed reading 41: A PORTRAIT OF MY FATHER. It's true, I did not learn terribly much new about political intrigue, or secret behind the scenes negotiations with the Chinese, or top-secret maneuvers of the CIA. On the other hand, I learned a lot more about the Bush family, and the relationship between these two great men. It's a warm, meaningful relationship that has stood the test of time.
41: A PORTRAIT OF MY FATHER is a book expressing one's devotion for a great, unselfish man, who happens to also be the author's father.