Decision Points

In This Review

Decision Points
By George W. Bush
Crown, 2010
512 pp. $35.00
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History will not remember Bush as a great prose stylist, and he does himself no favors by invoking the memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant as a model at the start of Decision Points. But despite the long stretches of flat and featureless writing, Bush's memoirs are nevertheless rewarding in their own way. When Bush comes to the critical moments of his presidency -- 9/11, the decision to invade Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, the troop surge in Iraq -- a fierce urgency enters the book as the still raw emotions of those events bring out a more engaged and intense side of the normally laid-back former president. Decision Points is less than a full-throated defense of everything the Bush administration did. There are more apologies than complaints in the book; Bush acknowledges missteps and only rarely stoops to settle scores with the congressional and journalistic critics who attacked his administration so bitterly. But the apologies are more often about style than substance. Bush deeply believes he did the right thing when the chips were down. History will be the judge of that. This book effectively presents him as a sincere man who did the best he could in the face of unprecedented challenges. It was clearly not always enough.