Book Review – Decision Points

Decision Points is the memoirs of former President George Bush, it’s topped the nonfiction best sellers for the past couple of months. The memoirs aim to be decision-based rather than chronological, so each chapter focuses on a particular decision, though there isn’t any real analysis of decision making processes, just the context around each decision on a standalone basis.

It doesn’t just cover the Presidency, arguably the coverage of his earlier life is more interesting, mainly because there is little new information in the coverage of most of the more recent events. It is clear what a central role faith and strong personal relationships play in George Bush’s thinking – for example his dismissal of Gerhard Schroeder, the German leader who backed down from supporting him on a decision, is pretty cutting by the polite standards of these sorts of recent political memoirs.

As you might expect, the analysis of his decisions tends toward the defensive though, on Katrina, he accepts the need for a quicker reaction but also wanted to respect the autonomy of the New Orleans authorities, he accepts he misread Putin, but beyond that there’s not much deep thinking and reflection going on, though it’s a crisp summary of his years in office. I was hoping the book would serve a transition from the partisan politics of being President into a richer, more historical analysis of 8 years of American history but the book doesn’t really do that. This is one where unless you have a deep interest in US politics, I’d either skip completely or wait for the paperback.

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