After weeks of leaks, George W. Bush's long-awaited memoir, Decision Points, finally went on sale Tuesday. As hundreds of fans lined up in Dallas to meet the former president and buy copies at his first book signing, reviewers rushed to offer their opinions on how Bush's "confident" take on his presidency stacks up against other presidential memoirs. Was Bush's account of his eight years in office worth the wait? (Watch clips from Bush's "Today" show interview)
This is a revealing look at Bush's presidency: "Decision Points is not a definitive history of the Bush administration," says Kathryn Jean Lopez at National Review. But it is a revealing and humble account of the decisions that defined Bush's presidency, including his resolve to find out who was responsible for 9/11 and — his words — to "kick their ass." Some of "the most beautiful passages" are about his family, including how seeing the fetus after his mother's miscarriage cemented his pro-life views.
What a shallow and disappointing memoir: Bush has a lot to answer for, says Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times, including the "cherry-picking" of intelligence to justify invading Iraq. Yet he glosses over his biggest mistakes, while making room for a sort of "12-step confession" about kicking alcohol, as well as his thoughts on cleaning up dog poop. Bush seems eager "to portray himself as a forward-leaning, resolute leader," but his remarkably "casual" memoir makes him appear "both oddly passive and strangely cavalier."
"In Bush memoir, policy intersects with personality"
A typical presidential memoir — boring: No post-war president has produced a memoir "of any real merit," says Jonathan Yardley in The Washington Post, and Bush "is no exception." He is "smart enough" to know he couldn't just brag about his achievements, as some have done, but his regrets about focusing on Iraq's WMDs and the ill-advised "Mission Accomplished" banner are hardly enlightening. You can't fault Bush for wanting to have his say before history judges him — it's just a shame he did it with such a "dull" book.
"George W. Bush's 'Decision Points': 'Competent, readable, and flat'"