In This Review

Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House
Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House
By Peter Baker
Doubleday, 2013, 816 pp

The George W. Bush era in U.S. politics was one of drama, conflict, and polarization. In producing the first comprehensive narrative history of what will surely remain one of the most controversial presidential administrations in U.S. history, Baker has done yeoman’s service. All subsequent writers dealing with the subject will find his book indispensable. Focusing on the difficult and changing relationship between Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, Baker sifts through the conflicting stories and memories of the main players to show how and why the administration responded to its challenges as it did. Like many observers, Baker sees a shift between the first and the second terms of the administration, as Cheney’s influence declined and Bush’s thinking gradually changed, especially on foreign policy. Many observers wondered which man was really in charge; Baker’s conclusion, which will almost certainly stand the test of time, is that Bush is his own man and was responsible for the decisions made in his name.