In This Review

George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
By Timothy Naftali
Times Books, 2007, 224 pp

This balanced and thoughtful survey of the life of the first President Bush is a welcome arrival. Naftali has a clear eye for the compromises and shifts that the transplanted New Englander made as he built a career first in Texas politics and then on the national scene, and he also has a healthy respect for the 41st president's handling of the end of the Cold War. Giving due weight to the contributions of such giants of the Republican foreign policy establishment as James Baker and Brent Scowcroft, Naftali makes a strong case that Bush's own character and judgment played an indispensable role in the peaceful liquidation of a 40-year confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union. This short book will not be the last word in the evaluation of a dramatic administration that included the Gulf War as well as the end of the Cold War and the unification of Germany. But it is an excellent and lively introduction to the life and work of one of those U.S. presidents likely to receive more sympathetic treatment from historians than from voters.