Reading Journal

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Friday, May 06, 2011

Decision Points, by George W Bush

You may or may not have liked George W as president, but either way you really should read his book Decision Points. The book reads as if you're sitting around a backyard BBQ as he recounts tales of his life, complete with behind the scenes details and every word told in his voice.

Some of those details break the caricature. For example, did you know W is a voracious reader of American history? He read 16 Lincoln biographies alone during his presidency.

He talked about all the major issues - 9/11, Iraq, WMDs, Katrina, Abu Ghraib, the financial meltdown, and so on. He put you in the moment with the information and constraints he had to weigh, and then explained why he made the decisions he did. I also like the way he pointed out the risks of the other options he had available to him.

I thought he honestly admitted his mistakes while defending some unpopular decisions that he still believes were right. For example, he brought up whether he would have approved waterboarding top al-Qaeda members if he had to do it again. The response was pure W - "Damn right." If it's true that information was part of the chain that led to Osama, it's hard to argue he had a point.

This is truly a book for all the Monday morning presidents among us. I liked it as much as I liked Ulysses S. Grant's Civil War memoirs, which I also recommend highly.


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