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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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First Sentence
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

Most helpful customer reviews
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting peek into the mind of 41 Jan. 25 2002
First things first, where else could you find a book in which our current President is referred to as "little Googen"? (p.64, hardcover ed.) Since George (HW) Bush is not only a former President but also the father of the current President, "All the Best" is an even more interesting book now than when it was released in 1999. This collection of letters and diary entries is a window into the fascinating life of our 41st President, in his own words.
Because it is a collection of letters and other contemporaneous writings, you get a "real time" feel for what was happening at the time, as opposed to memories viewed through a lens of time and perspective. The letters written home during World War II are a great example of this. He was a bit of a fish out of water in basic training, a preppie mixing in with guys from all walks of life and his letters reflect his impressions and observations at the time. And how do you write home to tell your family that your plane was shot down, you ejected, you floated in the ocean for a few hours and were finally rescued by a passing ship? The letter explaining this harrowing experience is in here. Clearly he was very close to his mother and even confided in her his concerns when he thought his girlfriend (soon-to-be wife) Barbara wasn't writing him enough and perhaps had lost interest in him.
He came back from the war, married Barbara, went to Yale, they started a family and set out for a career and life in Texas. The letters detailing the Bushes' early years in Texas are particularly interesting because here and there you learn a little tidbit about President George W. Bush as a child. Of course, Barbara Bush also wrote about our current President in her autobiography, but it's interesting to get a father's perspective.
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Heard the taped version of MY LIFE IN LETTERS AND OTHER
WRITINGS by George Bush . . . I liked the fact that he was
one of the readers, along with Barbara Bush and other members
of his family . . . since the former president does not plan to write his autobiography, this collection of letters, diary entries and memos--with his accompanying commentary--fills the void . . . I was surprised that I liked this as much as I did . . . it helped me gain insights into his career highlights, but also about Bush the man . . . I found his entries to be most interesting for their candor, poignancy and humor.
There were many memorable passages; among them:
* [when the NATIONAL EXAMINER came out with the shocking
news that Saddam Husssein, Queen Elizabeth and Bush were all
blood relatives, he moved quickly to reassure his team]
TO: The Vice President
Sec State
Sec Def
NSC Adviser
Chief of Staff
Director of Central Intelligence
No decisions I make will be affected by relationship with Saddam
Hussein. The Queen and I would have it no other way.
George Bush
8 [to his wife on their anniversary]
January 6, 1994
For: Barbara Pierce
From: GHWB
Will you marry me? Oops, I forgot, you did that 49 years ago
today! I was very happy on that day in 1945, but I am even
happier today. You have given me joy that few men know. You
have made our boys into men by bawling them out and then,
right away, by loving them. You have helped Doro be the
sweetest greatest daughter in the whole wide world. I have
climbed perhaps the highest mountain in the world, but even
that cannot hold a candle to being Barbara's husband.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Thousand Points Remembered
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. Read more
Published 20 months ago by John M. Ford
5.0 out of 5 stars book
This book was a gift to my daugter a few years ago and she said she liked the book very much
Published 22 months ago by joan
1.0 out of 5 stars as a bush fan...
.... you may want to look for another book. this one is full of "corrections" of what the actual man himself said. Read more
Published on May 16 2004
1.0 out of 5 stars The letters I REALLY wanted to see...
...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... Read more
Published on Jan. 10 2004 by Cooley Hurd
1.0 out of 5 stars sappy self-aggrandizement
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. Read more
Published on Nov. 17 2003 by "whuds001"
5.0 out of 5 stars Not to be missed
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. Read more
Published on Nov. 12 2003 by AnnieSB
5.0 out of 5 stars It's All About Heartbeat
And you thought Ronald Reagan was the Great Communicator? Pick up this collection of letters from President Bush (version 41) and you'll be amazed - this prolific letter writer... Read more
Published on March 7 2002 by Andy Orrock
5.0 out of 5 stars A Keeper
I thought this book was very good. It is Bush's own writings thought out his life. It was very interesting and enjoyable! Read more
Published on Jan. 19 2002 by Rebecca dickerson
4.0 out of 5 stars Great insight of a true moral, political mind.
If you enjoyed Tom Brokaws "The Greatest Generation" but wanted to see more, you will love this book. Read more
Published on Aug. 30 2001 by Michael Naro
5.0 out of 5 stars A man of high integrity, a highly under rated POTUS
Former Pres. GHW Bush has lived the equalivent of three lifetimes, it seems, because of what he has been privilaged to do. Read more
Published on July 9 2001 by "euprelaw"
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