After six years and forty-two presidents, I’m just two presidents (and five biographies) away from the finish line. Mission almost accomplished…!
The biographies I read at this point are essentially placeholders, of course. The definitive biographies of the most recent presidents have definitively not yet been written.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t begin to peek into their childhoods, their early careers or their presidencies to begin getting a sense – however incomplete – of their character and contributions.
For George W. Bush I’ll be reading two biographies:
*Jean Edward Smith’s “Bush” was published in 2016. This is the fourth presidential biography by Smith I’ve read, and it’s worth pointing out that his biographies of Ulysses Grant, Franklin Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower were each my favorite biography of those presidents.
But this book promises to be different than his previous biographies in at least two meaningful respects. First, it only covers Bush 43’s life up through his presidency; second, it has a reputation for being almost flagrantly critical. [I’m halfway through it now and let’s just say that Smith does not leave the reader wondering how he feels about Bush’s presidency.]
* My second biography of Bush 43 is Peter Baker’s 2013 “Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House.” Baker is a long-tenured White House correspondent for The New York Times. His book promises to be a well-sourced and penetrating account of the Bush presidency. But where Jean Edward Smith holds Bush fully responsible for his administration’s wide assortment of alleged faults, Baker apparently sees Cheney as the irrefutable center of the storm – its fanatical malocchio. Should be interesting…