In This Review

First Son: George W. Bush and the Bush Family Dynasty
First Son: George W. Bush and the Bush Family Dynasty
By Bill Minutaglio
Times Books, 1999, 371 pp.

Those interested in learning about a possible future president can start with this book. This account is thorough, albeit a bit light on Bush's years as Texas governor. Like the good journalist he is, Minutaglio has done his homework, talked to just about everyone he could, and laid out the story without a slant. Bush's supporters and detractors alike will find some of what they seek. Supporters will notice that the candidate has long been honest, direct, and friendly; for at least the last 15 years, he has been rather disciplined, too.

As a gubernatorial candidate he stated his priorities; as governor he acted on them. Opponents will highlight his thin engagement with national policy issues and the advantages that have inevitably come to the "first son." With these advantages come personal burdens, however, and Minutaglio illuminates them. Bush also is plainly intelligent, informed on foreign policy mainly by his wide circle of acquaintances and advisers as well as his experiences in Texas -- hence his particular interest in immigration and trade. Above all, Bush knows politics and political management. If presidential power is mostly about persuasion, that is an art he has studied.