From Publishers Weekly
Like Kevin Phillips in his bestselling American Dynasty, the Schweizers trace the history of the Bush family back to progenitors George Herbert Walker and Samuel P. Bush. It's easy to spot both continuity and change in four generations of prominent Bushes. Of Prescott Bush's career in business, we're told, "Consensus and camaraderie forged behind closed doors suited him perfectly," a description that fits his grandson's style in the White House. And many of the family's connections span decades: Back in 1928, a firm headed by Prescott Bush purchased Dresser Industriesâ"which today is a subsidiary of Halliburton. However, the family's politics have shifted rightward like those of their party: Prescott Bush lost his first election after being "smeared" as an advocate of birth control, and later he became one of the first senators to denounce Joseph McCarthyâ"a bold gesture of moderation. Unlike Phillips, the Schweizers try hard to put a positive spin on the family saga. They insist that George H.W. Bush disliked negative campaigning, without mentioning the infamous Willie Horton ad that helped him win the 1988 election. When recounting the Florida election crisis of 2000, they find it "troublesome" that Carol Roberts, who oversaw the Palm Beach recount, was a Gore supporter, but fail to note that election supervisor Katherine Harris helped run Bush's Florida campaign. Thus, while this group portrait usefully gathers much family lore in a single, accessible source, the unbiased, authoritative story of the dynasty remains to be written.
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Using the extraordinary access that allowed them to interview Bush relatives, intimates, and even members of the core family (including Jeb Bush), the Schweizers have put together an exhaustive yet highly readable biography of the Bush dynasty that offers real insight into its origins and inner workings. The book mostly lets the events speak for themselves; what comes across repeatedly is that, going back to President Bush's great-grandfather, the way the family kept getting ahead was to "forge relationships to succeed." In fact, for all its detail on the Bush family, this volume is really a chronicle of how the old-boy network works in this country. As such, it spells out in no uncertain terms the advantage that those on the inside have when it comes to making money and raising money for business ventures and political campaigns. Further, following the Bush family tree offers a perfect illustration of the way old-boy connections are passed on to family members, often through associations like Yale's Skull-and-Bones Club, which has benefited several generations of Bushes. Although hardly dishy, the book offers some startling information about George W., in particular, the rivalry between him and his brother Jeb; the evolution of the president's evangelical faith; and his complicated relationship with his father. Read this in tandem with Kevin Phillips' American Dynasty
[BKL N 1 03], which views much of the same information from a far less benign point of view. Ilene CooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved