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All the Best, George Bush: My Life in Letters and Other Writings [Paperback]

George H.W. Bush
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 3 2000
Though reticent in public, George Bush has openly shared his private thoughts in correspondence throughout his life. Fortunately, since the former president does not plan to write his autobiography, this collection of letters, diary entries, and memos, with his accompanying commentary, will fill that void. As he writes in his preface, "So what we have here are letters from the past and present. Letters that are light and hopefully amusing. Letters written when my heart was heavy or full of joy. Serious letters. Nutty letters. Caring and rejoicing letters...It's all about heartbeat."

Organized chronologically, the volume begins with eighteen-year-old George's letters to his parents during World War II, when, at the time he was commissioned, he was the youngest pilot in the Navy. Readers will gain insights into Bush's career highlights -- the oil business, his two terms in Congress, his ambassadorship to the U.N., his service as an envoy to China, his tenure with the Central Intelligence Agency, and of course, the vice presidency, the presidency, and the postpresidency. They will also observe a devoted husband, father, and American. Ranging from a love letter to Barbara and a letter to his mother about missing his daughter, Robin, after her death from leukemia to a letter to his children two weeks before Nixon's resignation to one written to them just before the beginning of Desert Storm, the writings are remarkable for their candor, humor, and poignancy.

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From Amazon

In lieu of a memoir, All the Best, George Bush collects correspondence and diary entries from the former U.S. president to show, as he says, "what my own heartbeat is, what my values are, what has motivated me in life." The letters begin in 1942--when, fresh out of high school, Bush volunteered for U.S. Navy flight school--and continue to the brink of the 21st century, as the retired chief executive worries about the Melissa virus infecting his office's server and keeping his visiting grandchildren in line. ("I realize," he muses, "Keep the freezer door closed from now on and I mean it lacks the rhetorical depth of This will not stand or Read my lips.") All the Best hits all the highlights of Bush's career, from the Texas oil business to his role as ambassador to China, then CIA director, vice president under Ronald Reagan, and finally president himself. Along the way, he reveals a personality that is at turns compassionate, respectful, silly, doting, and resolute--a man for whom being a father and a grandfather matters as much as, and maybe even more than, being leader of the free world. Fans and detractors alike will find in All the Best an intimate human portrait that offers as sure a self-definition of Bush's personal life as A World Transformed did his presidential career. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

To the present governors of Texas and Florida, his sons George and Jeb, who worried that they might upstage their famous dad, former President Bush wrote: "Do not worry when you see the stories that compare you favorably to a Dad for whom English was a second language." President Bush was indeed famously inarticulate in public. But in this collection of diary entries, memos and letters written between 1942, when he started navy flight school, to March 1999, when he wrote a friend to express his consternation that his e-mail server was down, Bush proves himself to have been a gracious and staggeringly prolific correspondent. There are long letters, such as the September 1944 missive to his parents relating how he was shot down over the Pacific. And there are truly funny diary entries from his presidency about the Scowcroft Award, a running gag in the Bush cabinet named after National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, who apparently had an uncanny knack for napping in meetings: "A fantastic challenge by Ed Derwinski. very firm eye closure and a remarkable recovery gambit." Naturally, there are long letters to world leaders such as Deng Xiaoping, King Hussein, Mikhail Gorbachev and others about matters of historical import. Diary entries cover the Tiananmen Square massacre, the failed coup against Gorbachev, the Gulf War and other crises (though there's hardly anything about the Iran-contra scandal). Rarely does Bush display any partisan bitterness, and even then it's not very pungent (though he's consistently irked by the press). Bush must have been tempted to write a memoir intended to beat historians to the interpretive punch. This modest alternative is refreshing and, in many ways, will shed more light on the man's personal character and public persona than any memoir or biography could. It offers an intriguing picture of a man who takes fierce pride in his modesty.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Dear Mum and Dad, ... Today I felt better than I have since I've been here. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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4.0 out of 5 stars A Thousand Points Remembered Feb. 21 2013
By John M. Ford TOP 100 REVIEWER
George H. W. Bush shows us his life by sharing the details. This book's strength comes from the small moments of the author's family life, military experience, and public service. The sixteen chapters are composed almost entirely of selected letters that George Bush wrote to other people, accompanied by a few lines of background about each. There is an intimacy to this collection that would not remain had the letters been edited into a narrative. Readers can hear this former president's voice and judge if it rings true.

George Bush has an understated sense of humor only rarely seen by the public during his presidency. A few examples:
- He brought in Dana Carvey to "play" him at a White House staff meeting.
- A serious memo to President Reagan ends with the "blind man" joke.
- Awarding a "Scowcroft Award" to anyone who falls asleep in a Cabinet meeting then makes a brilliant recovery upon awakening.
- "Being called dishonest by Bill Clinton is like being called ugly by a frog."
- "Mikhail--I want you to have this first message that I have ever sent to a foreign leader on my new computer..."

George Bush is also a decent man, who values his friends and lives his values. This seems particularly clear as we read about:
- The letters he wrote to the families of soldiers who died fighting for their country
- His deep disappointment in Richard Nixon over Watergate and their continuing friendship afterward
- His restraint when dealing with a press corps "...more hateful than I can ever recall in modern times.
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5.0 out of 5 stars book Dec 28 2012
By joan
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book was a gift to my daugter a few years ago and she said she liked the book very much
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1.0 out of 5 stars as a bush fan... May 16 2004
By A Customer
.... you may want to look for another book. this one is full of "corrections" of what the actual man himself said. parts about family money made off the holocaust have been edited out, unfortunately. specifically in some letters addressed to leslie baukerberg (his life-long accountant) and tina goethe (his admitted former girlfriend) who both had invested in a brilliant stock some of that same money that granted him the ability to pay off campgain debts! as a fan of bush sr's work in the white house i was shocked to see these glaring omissions from letters i had previously read via the internet. perhaps the best book for this subject is the less-heavily-edited "sons of tommorrows sunshine" compiled by son jeb bush and the late author benjamin kowlestein will guide you more in the history of this man and his family.
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1.0 out of 5 stars The letters I REALLY wanted to see... Jan. 10 2004
...were the ones he wrote to Jennifer Fitzgerald. But, for some reason he didn't include them. Unfortunately, the letters he DID include, to Barbara, etc... are clearly contrived and illustrate how gullible those around him are. George HW Bush's top three priorities in his life has been $, $ and even more $.
Also missing were the letters he wrote to the families of the crewmen he abandoned when he jumped from his lightly-damaged plane during WW2. Perhaps he never wrote them?
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1.0 out of 5 stars sappy self-aggrandizement Nov. 17 2003
Horrible book from a terrible man! Why not step outside for a breath of fresh air, instead of subjecting yourself with your nose in this one. And if outside reading it, go inside and do something around the house more productive and gratifying, than reading a self-absored moribund tome to a corrupt, misguided, old man.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not to be missed Nov. 12 2003
By AnnieSB
This is one of the best books I have ever read. It is funny, poignant and a revelation of the private man we all only knew publicly. Historians, teachers and the press should be forced to read this so they can teach people the true character of this man. If you liked George Bush before, you will love him after reading this. If you didn't like him before, I suggest you read this and discover who this man really will certainly change your opinion. The letters transported me back to WWII, Watergate, etc...But this isn't as much about a President and his policies as it is about a father, a husband, a son and a friend. I laughed, I cried. Thoroughly enjoyable...the editorial reviews didn't give it enough credit. I was sad when I finished as I wanted more...what more can one say?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Easy Read Instructive April 27 2002
By "ronlv"
Easy book to read. Hundreds of letters each standing on its own. The letters span the range of drama from great sorrows to great joys. In between it is light hearted, whimsical, funny and at times deeply insightful. Delivers a more vivid understanding of George Bush than a memoir: 1.Honorable man devoting nearly all his life to country, 2. Striving to engage both political parties to do what is best, 3. All to often pushed aside by the press and both ends of the political spectrum in disbelief.
All politics is local. Even more micro, George Bush 41 was the consummate one on one communicator by letters. WWII combat flier, businessman and endless high level government jobs could not keep him from touching thousands of people one at a time through letters. Many letters were responding to people with no chance of winning over. These letters are very instructive in showing the space where he really functioned and probably kept him one of the most well grounded presidents of all time.
As a book of letters it is free to cover more ground. Explanations and foot notes are strikingly short and limited through out the book. A typical memoir would take volumes to cover life of George Bush 41 and still touch all the subjects in this book of letters.
GHWB's personal relationships with world leaders are authenticated by the relevant letters in this book. We had the right President a critical time. Going into the Gulf War, partisan dissent was astounding and helped to limit the objectives in Iraq. Though blatantly obvious why the Gulf War had to be fought, it was not for many senators. I was disappointed that a greater effort was not make to help the reader understand how so many senators could be so out of touch with the world.
Would it be for the following reasons.
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