From Publishers Weekly
The Weekly Standard executive editor and Fox News personality preaches to the Crawford choir in this analysis-cum-tribute to the Bush presidency. Readers who keep pace with current events will find little new in Barnes's take on the president's policies, but what's instructive are the surprising glimpses into the personality of a man Barnes celebrates as an "insurgent leader" who's "an alien in the realm of the governing class" that despises all things Washington and revels in his status as "a revolutionary with a revolutionary vision." Indeed, the capital is a locale he regards as a "job site" at best and a "detention center" at worst where the increasingly Republican-populated Washington establishment is "reactionary" (and "Bush ignores them"), and the national press corps "reminded Bush of the liberal students he detested in his years at Yale." His disdain for newspaper-reading is well-known, but Barnes goes to great lengths to detail the president's copious book-reading habit (five to every one that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reads), from Michael Crichton's State of Fear and Margaret MacMillian's Paris 1919 to Natan Sharansky's The Case for Democracy and David McCullough's 1776. However, Barnes's cheerleading proves wearying after a few chapters: no matter what the topic, the president is right and everyone else is wrong. Bush, like Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt, has been "prematurely judged to fall short of presidential specifications," leaving Barnes to conclude "Bush is a president of consequence." Ardent partisans will enjoy this polemical valentine, which should be read with care by readers seeking fresh insights into the mind of the 43rd president.
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Here's a book the Bush administration will be happy about. Barnes, the executive editor of the Weekly Standard
and a Fox news contributor, has written a political biography in which, to quote a cowboy song, seldom is heard a discouraging word and (with true Bushian syntax) the skies are not cloudy all day. Using a one-hour interview with the president as the core for this short book, Barnes hits the familiar notes: Bush is a loner, unbeholden and uninterested in the Washington establishment. He's a big thinker, a visionary. He is loyal. He likes to go to bed early. Nothing is said about CIA leaks or the standing of the U.S. in the world or Bush's sinking popularity polls; rather, the point is--made by both Barnes and President Bush--that this a presidency whose goals are so big, they are for history to judge, not snapshooting pollsters. The most interesting part of the book is Barnes' discussion of how much Bush is influenced by what he reads, especially Natan Sharansky's Case for Democracy.
Barnes is preaching to the choir here--and the choir will love it. Ilene CooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved