96 of 104 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2007
Like some other reviewers, I was thinking this might be a puff piece on GWB. It is not. The author has apparently gone to great lengths to expose the good, bad, and ugly - regardless of who it slams.
The Bremer/Bush issue is a particularly good read. Almost novel-like.
This author has a smooth but intense way of writing that keeps you wanting to get to the next page. I read it on a cross-country flight and got irritated everytime the stewardess asked if I was ready for dinner - I wanted to keep reading! :)
I would like to have seen a little more in the book relative to Dick Cheney just because of the fascinating relationship that is.
Overall, if you are a political junkie, this book will be a page-turner for you. Highly recommended.
37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
'Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush' by Robert Draper is a fair look at one of the most controversial Presidents in American history. If you are a Bush basher looking to find insights on what makes this man so 'bad' and nothing else, you will be disappointed by this work. If you are a Bush lover who is looking to "drink the Kool-Aid" and read about what makes this man so 'great', you also will be disappointed. If you are a non-partisan (do those people truly exist) who is looking to simply get in the mind of GWB and learn what makes him tick, this is a great read. Written in a fair way (and the key word is FAIR), love or hate the man, that one thing that can be "dead certain" is that Bush is not the politician of today that seems to gloss over past beliefs and change as they see fit when it comes to getting elected. While Bush is no saint when it comes to this (and I apologize for Bush bashers that I use the name of the President and saint in the same sentence), most of his beliefs he makes, sets and sticks to. He won't change his opinions easily, and when he thinks he is right, he KNOWS he is right.
Great for historical buffs who want to learn about GWB and how he got us into thie Iraq mess that we will be in for quite some time, 'Dead Certain' is an easy book to recommend for the masses.
82 of 98 people found the following review helpful
At first I thought "Dead Certain" would simply be a "puff-piece," or another one-sided "Bush-basher." I was very pleasantly surprised to learn a number of things in this balanced book - eg. that Bush claims to have been surprised by Bremer's disbanding the Iraqi Army and police (in retrospect, a disastrous decision - regardless, Bremer reacted angrily to this claim and released documents showing otherwise), that Bush didn't simply accept anything and everything that Rove suggested, and the startling (and very disturbing) statement regarding the Iraq troop surge that, "I'm playing for October-November," when he hopes the Iraq troop increase will finally show enough results to get us in a position where the presidential candidates will be comfortable about sustaining a presence and stay longer. (The latter statement is political dynamite!)
"Dead Certain" also reaffirms Bush as resolute (stubborn?) and not liking to receive bad news (Bush has "an almost petulant heedlessness to the outside world"), as well as totally committed to his exercise regime. More importantly, I believe that any book on the Bush presidency should devote considerable effort covering V.P. Cheney's role (this was not accomplished in "Dead Certain") and greater insight into the decision-making on executive power and the treatment of detainees.
97 of 118 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2007
What makes this book so rare is the fact that GWB has had one of the most secretive administrations in history. Somehow to his credit, the author (Robert Draper) managed to get in and even get the president to open up to him. Very rare!
Most books about GWB are written by authors with an obvious agenda. However, in the case of Draper's 'Dead Certain' I believe he is toeing the line. While he is clearly not a liberal by any means he also doesn't come off as a Sean Hannity conservative either.
The book is written from personal conversations Draper had with the president in the oval office (six in all) and over 200 members of his staff. Over time GWB becomes comfortable with Draper and probably reveals some conversations he either regrets having or believed the author would never print. This is where Draper proves he is loyal to nobody but the reader!
In fact, you would think some of the things GWB said was leaked and then written by Al Franken or another liberal author. Conversation's about making million like his father Clinton are making. Or other conversation's where he blames John Robert's for the idea of appointing Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court which lost him his half his loyal base.
Draper even speaks about the disdain 1st Lady Laura Bush has for advisor Karl Rove in the book. It is said her nickname for Rove is "PigPin" from Charlie Brown. You can draw your own conclusion to why she labled him with that monicker which is hilarious!
Buy the book and read it! I give it only 3 stars because I don't enjoy reading anything about GWB quite honestly. However, as a person who likes politics when the truth is being told (which is rare) I am a fan. A book that give's the truth about the GWB administration is especially rare!
36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2007
Although Robert Draper was invited inside the Bush White House to write this "authorized biography" of Bush 43, Draper stays surprisingly even-handed, neither lionizing the President (as many adoring biographers do to their subjects) nor demeaning him (as is currently in vogue).
Depending on one's outlook, Bush does or does not do that himself. Draper shows us a man who is surprisingly thoughtful about his place in the world, but is so absolutely assured of the rightness of his positions that he brooks no argument from his advisers, tolerates no dissent, and never reconsiders his decisions. Charming and eloquent toward his guest one moment, he "bellows" rudely at the White House kitchen staff to bring him ice cream the next. Admitting that American deaths in Iraq pain him, he nonetheless spends considerable energy in maintaining his Iraqi adventure.
He is "The Commander Guy" and "The Decider" in a very real sense, running his Administration on a strictly hierarchical basis, with himself at the unquestioned top. Even while studiously avoiding polemic, Draper can't drape Dubya enough on these pages to hide the fact that Bush sees himself as a moral crusader---with no one but himself deciding what's moral. This Manichaean worldview has led to some of the worst excesses and lapses in judgement in American Presidential history; however, the President seems barely troubled. Bush is not simpleminded, but he is simplistic, and sees all issues and all people in terms of absolutes, demonstrating a dangerous inflexibility, especially for a man in power who craves power. His "Wanted: Dead or Alive," "You are either with us or you are against us," and "I just don't believe it," combined with his narrow, puritanical view of science and society and his propensity to place loyalty above competence affect the entire planet.
Proven not unintelligent on these pages, Bush's famous mangling of the English language seems almost studied. The slanging and mangling is meant to be seen as an indication of his hail-fellow-well-met persona, exuding harmlessness and folksiness. This President wants people to see him as the "Aw Shucks, Folks" President who stands firm in the face of doubt, very much the Texas cowboy he really isn't. In fact, he craves power for power's sake.
It's clear that Draper likes the man---George W. Bush, qua George W. Bush is a likeable, witty fellow. But George W. Bush qua President comes across as a darker spirit, not only firm but inflexible, a man who has not grown much in the Presidency. Given virtually unlimited discretion in the aftermath of 9/11, Bush took it and has used it myopically to advance his own agendas. A pathological optimist, Bush seems bemused by the fact that people are concerned about the economy, that New Orleans hasn't fixed itself in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and that anyone questions his good intentions.
Draper doesn't delve---or wasn't allowed to delve---into many of the Administration's most controversial decisions. Tellingly though, Bush's decision to sit and read MY PET GOAT while he knew the country was under attack on September 11, 2001 is not whitewashed away. Draper unflinchingly presents us with a man who, at that moment, was stunned, and for the moment, immobilized by uncertainty. And while Draper doesn't necessarily see Bush's mute reaction as the fulcrum of his Presidency, in retrospect it was: The man has never given himself up to uncertainty since.
Unable to discern between "meum" and "tuum," Bush has only a limited monochromatic view of the world and a limited (and one might say, ultimately) unrealistic view of what the United States can do, and what the rational limits of power are. In the end, and in despite of Draper's scrupulous fairness, George W. Bush comes across not only as "dead certain" but as an immutably fixed point on the face of a rapidly-changing planet.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2007
A fellow Texan, Draper approaches Bush with a depth of understanding, fairness and access that renders his profile of an insecure, bullying, often-wrong but never-in-doubt President more powerful that any done to date. Well-researched, smartly told, quickly-paced, Dead Certain is an excellent read and a necessary snapshot of what makes this President run -- and bike. Instead of drawing an easy, partisan caricature, Draper shows his deep journalistic roots as a magazine reporter as he paints a real-life portrait, which may in fact be more damning than any lampoon. Highly recommended.
190 of 245 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2007
This is an unbiased look at the president, not an ultra-conservative piece of propaganda, as some other reviewers (who have not read the book) seem to think. Just because you do not like George Bush, doesn't mean that the book is worthless. Quite the contrary. I, personally, despise the man. But the book offers a full view of GWB, which is important, whatever your political leaning.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2007
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Don't read this book if you are a rabid Bush-basher looking for absolute evidence to validate his being the devil incarnate. Don't read this book if you are a Bush sycophant and are unable to accept that the man has a number of frailties. Robert Draper didn't waste a lot of ink regurgitating the shopworn liberal/conservative talking points to describe his subject. Chocked-full of behind-the-scenes detail, I thought his "warts and all" depiction of Bush was a brutally honest record that will be extensively referenced by future authors and historians.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2007
For all of the many books that have been published excoriating George W. Bush during his presidency, a new twist has developed.... the story told from within the White House and from inside the president's head. "Dead Certain", Robert Draper's vivid account of the workings of "43", brings to light Bush the decider, Bush the optimist, Bush the big thinker, stubborn Bush and as many facets as one can imagine. It's as resourceful and imaginative an approach as I've yet seen.
The success of Draper's book is portraying the linkage between the stuff from which Bush is made and how it affects policy. We know, for instance, that Bush has an arrogant streak, and this (combined with what the author refers to as eternal optimism) propels Bush into decisions which many in the public view as unnecessarily narrow-minded. It's a wonder that with all this self-assurance and his wanting to be a creator of large schemes, Bush has failed on so many of the large issues...Iraq, Katrina, Social Security...while falling off the boat on other issues such as stem cell research and Terri Schiavo. Calvin Trillin wrote a book in humorous verse about the Bush administration a few years ago called "Obliviously On He Sails", and that seems to sum up the picture of "W" and the past six and a half years, mirrored to an extent by author Draper.
It couldn't have come from a more definitive source than Laura Bush when she says of her husband, "George likes to do things to excess". (Gone are the days of the "prudent" father, #41) That is unsettling enough. But in taking some exception to the conclusions Draper draws in his Epilogue, I think that George W. Bush will always strike so many Americans as never being up to the task of being president. With so much available talent in this country we end up with him... a president who, whatever his good intentions may have been, will simply leave behind a failed legacy. The author states, toward the end of the book, "Bush was now, and would likely remain until the end of his tenure, a highly unpopular and divisive president"...he's right, of course. "Dead Certain" is well worth the read and I highly recommend it for Robert Draper's ability to peel back the curtain and give us a glimpse as to just what the emperor is really wearing.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2007
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This is a great read as well as an informative biography. By portraying significant moments in Bush's political career with direct quotes and vignettes, Draper paints a full portrait of a historical figure so lacking in personal insight as to maintain belief in ideals while blind to reality. This is not "Bush-bashing" as much as a forensic psychological examination of all that went wrong.