158 of 180 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo
I have long respected and admired Laura Bush. After reading Spoken From The Heart my respect and admiration for her greatly increased. To read about the scheduled events and obligations; the meetings, dinners, and trips as First Lady, is to realize how little personal time she had left for family and friends and introspection. During her years as First Lady, she worked...
Published on May 11, 2010 by Darlene Black
176 of 197 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Two different books.....
This book starts out with what a number of professional reviewers called, rightly, "lyrical descriptions" of Mrs. Bush's small-town childhood. I enjoyed that portion and found her recall of specific childhood incidents to be impressive and meaningful. She also did a beautiful job of telling the reader in a very straightforward way of the events of the night when, as an...
Published on May 31, 2010 by Book lover -Philadelphia
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176 of 197 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Two different books.....,
This book starts out with what a number of professional reviewers called, rightly, "lyrical descriptions" of Mrs. Bush's small-town childhood. I enjoyed that portion and found her recall of specific childhood incidents to be impressive and meaningful. She also did a beautiful job of telling the reader in a very straightforward way of the events of the night when, as an inexperienced driver, she accidentally killed a friend.
Where the book changed tone was in the many descriptions of White House events and the people who attended various state dinners. While these lists were complete, Mrs. Bush almost never provides any personal comments about the famous people she has met, whether celebrities or heads of state. Having gotten to know her in the preceding sections of the book as a thoughtful, loyal and gracious person, it would have been nice to get her "take" on people; instead, she maintains a gracious, somewhat distant tone. Perhaps this is consistent with the sensitive and graceful aspects of her personality but it does make for dry reading.
Overall, a well-written book with many details of a fascinating life but certainly no Kitty Kelly-like tell-all. Recommended for those who want to know both the story behind the news and to appreciate the complexity of the role of First Lady.
By the way, since so many reviewers here took pains to say they are Democrats or Independents, I am proud to say that I am a Republican, like almost half the country. We, too, read books and have opinions.
158 of 180 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo,
I have long respected and admired Laura Bush. After reading Spoken From The Heart my respect and admiration for her greatly increased. To read about the scheduled events and obligations; the meetings, dinners, and trips as First Lady, is to realize how little personal time she had left for family and friends and introspection. During her years as First Lady, she worked tirelessly to highlight and to make aware of the many basic unmet human needs in health in Africa and Haiti and elsewhere, literacy and women's rights in Afghanistan, and the many freedoms that are so lacking in many countries around the world. Through her efforts avenues were opened to begin to bring solutions to some of these serious problems. Through the many shattering events of the Bush Presidency she helped illuminate and honor the resiliency of the human spirit of people everywhere. This book was an eye opener for me into the lives of President Bush and Mrs. Bush, and all the people who served with them and the utter complexity of solving world problems. She met many people; the rich and the poor, the powerful and famous and the unknown, the well and the sick, the kind and the rude, and treated them all with the civility and grace that are her hallmarks. She is truly a remarkable person.
62 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grace Is Hard To Come By These Days,
I am an independent who read this book not for the politics, but to learn more about the former First Lady. Mrs. Bush has had an interesting and surreal life. I enjoyed reading about her childhood and her roots. Her rise from small town girl to the First Lady of the United States is fascinating. She endured an unbelievable amount of unfair attacks and criticism. But, she showed grace and grit by rising above it all. Mrs. Bush brought dignity to her position...a trait that is sorely lacking in recent years. This book gives an intimate glimpse into the life of an extraordinary woman. Bravo Mrs. Bush.
98 of 119 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Private woman, public life,
This chatty biography of former First Lady Laura Bush will appeal to anyone wanting a glimpse of what it is like to be a private person in the public spotlight. The book appears to perfectly capture the author's personality: polite, graceful, a little forgettable but worthy of respect. Whatever your politics, this firsthand account of the day-to-day activities and challenges of a president's spouse will entertain and enlighten.
The most interesting chapters are the first two, about growing up in Midland, Texas. Bush paints a vivid portrait of small-town life. Her beloved Daddy would come whistling into the house, "with dust on his shoes," telling funny stories, eating jalapeños and laughing with her mother. Bush's mother introduced the girl -- a future librarian and teacher -- to her lifelong love of reading, starting with Pinocchio and Snow White. Bush describes sedate "Daddy dates" at age 13, sitting in the backseats of cars driven by her escort's father. At 17, Bush causes a car accident that kills a good friend; the memory haunts her.
After Bush marries W at age 31 (as one townswoman sniffs: "the most eligible bachelor in Midland marrying the old maid of Midland"), the book settles down into recollections of raising twin babies and political travels. Bush is a quiet influence on her husband and girls, as she asks George to stop drinking, and worries the twins might have problems with their eyesight. There is nothing surprising or revelatory here, but it is diverting and well-written.
Included: 78 photos, both color and black and white, on glossy paper.
Other interesting looks at Laura Bush include W. and American Wife: A Novel.
Here's the chapter list:
1. Through the Nursery Glass
2. Dreams and Dust
3. Traveling Light
4. One Hundred and Thirty-two Rooms
5. Goodness in the Land of the Living
6. "Grand Mama Laura"
7. "I Told You I Would Come"
8. Prairie Chapel Mornings
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classy and intelligent woman in her own right...,
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The book is engaging and flows well. The recollections of her childhood were whimsical and carefree, which starkly ended with the terrible accident resulting in the death of her friend. After the accident, which she describes in heartbreaking detail, it's very clear - even from the writing style - that her whole world changed.
The recollections of her years at President Bush's side, as the First Lady of Texas, and later as the First Lady of the US were a bit more mechanical, but she relayed with great emotion those events and causes that were near and dear to her. She recalled adversities that she and her family faced, including the time one of her daughters was threatened by a university teaching assistant (something along the lines of, "You won't get an A in this class unless you ask your father not to go to war,"). Despite this, she handled these issues with great restraint and class.
Overall, some may approach this book (or not approach it at all) with the attitude that Mrs. Bush is some "Stand By Your Man" Stepford Wife with no real contributions of her own. They could not be more wrong.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revealing and Refreshing,
Regardless of your political views, you should read this book. If the American public would have been made aware of what Mrs. Bush and her husband had quietly and without media reporting been doing during their eight years in the White House, I am certain that many people who hold negative viewpoints would have changed their mindset. Laura Bush is a class act and she and her husband did so much for oppressed women and children that the media virtually ignored. I was surprised to learn about their commitment to literacy in the US and the world. I could go on and on, but in her quiet, dignified voice, Laura Bush reveals what was really happening during her husband's administration. What I found refreshing is that she is open and honest and does not sugar coat the truth or cover up the problems. Bravo Mrs. Bush!
118 of 148 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laura Bush: One Classy Lady,
Laura Bush has always conducted herself with dignity. She is an example of a real
lady who is respectful even to those who do not deserve respect.
When reading this book, at least the reader knows what is contained within its pages
is true. Not so, with others who have been caught in lies and exaggerations that
are laughable. I will continue to select things to read that teach me something.
Laura has a lot to teach me.....even with 4 "earned" diplomas on my wall.
104 of 132 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Literary, Reading, Women's Rights --- A Lasting Legacy,
Laura Bush, married to the first U.S. president with an earned M.B.A., found herself stereotyped by large portions of the media. Her high intelligence and useful contributions to social welfare --- especially literacy and women's rights --- were often largely ignored and seriously (perhaps intentionally?) under-reported.
Meanwhile, her husband's useful and wise policies were ignored also as opposing politicians called him "a liar" and "stupid" among other epithets. Disagree with George W. Bush if you choose --- but the man is definitely not stupid and certainly not a liar. Why does political disagreement have to take us to such desperate places? Where is the congeniality one finds in the Texas legislature and why is the U.S. Congress so devoid of grace and courtesy?
Now in her own words, given an opportunity to "strike back" against frequent injustices --- Mrs. Bush graciously declines. She does manage to call out a few transgressors, notably Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, but she does so without calling them any names. She simply quotes them and asks "Why did these people speak in this way?" It's a question voters should ask, especially in Nevada and California.
This is an honest, soul-searching book by a public figure whose personal life tends more toward the introvert. Anyone hoping for deeper glimpses into Mrs. Bush's persona will be rewarded here: The real Laura Bush can, and does, stand up.
Well-written and definitely a good read ---- the kind of volume you'd expect from someone with an interest in books and literature.
Five stars for being informative, refreshing, insightful and --- despite the temptations to get even --- quite civilized.
Dr. David Frisbie
The Center for Marriage & Family Studies
Author of "The Soul Mate Marriage" and 9 other books
62 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well written and fascinating,
I am a Ph.D. in literature and I say that because I feel qualified to evaluate the literary quality of the writing. Excellent, graceful, intelligent, moving.
The class of this lady comes through all the writing. The best part is the first half, her growing up in Midland and her early years with George. The latter part is more of a travelogue and descriptions of her projects. However , all of it is interesting. The book is honest, restrained (in her criticsm of Bush enemies),
and full of her loving actions after 9-11. I think history will record that George Bush was one of our presidents with the most integrity, and the softest heart,and part of that comes from the elegant lady he chose when they were both 30 years old. What an enviable marriage! I highly recommend this book.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lives Up to Its Title,
I twice had the pleasure of seeing the former First Lady when I lived in Dallas, once hearing her speak. If she is a "scam" or "put on" artist, she's first rank since I saw and heard nothing that was less than humble, polite, and quite charming. And, her well-known love of books and hightly effective patronage of literacy and library programs are always praiseworthy.
The book itself is binding-solid and had no problems with construction values I could see.
That said, this book is oddly flat. But, I see it more as a function of her personality than any deliberate omissions or intentional obfuscation. Ms. Bush was not a terribly public First Lady when it came to politics as opposed to her philanthropic endeavors, something for which she cannot be blamed just as any First Lady cannot be blamed, left as they often are to shape their own unique public personas. So, the absence of politics in the book is, I think, a proper reflection of how Laura Bush perceived and shaped her public role, which was indeed largely non-political. So, if the reader is seeking political "red meat," this book will disappoint. That bowl is empty. Any politics in this book are exclusively gagued by her personal reactions and little else. And, this is fine. It is a memoir, after all.
But apart from some nice vignettes from her childhood and the harrowing experience of her best friend's death in a car crash long ago, I don't see any deep revelations in these pages. It was all quite superficial. I cannot say that I gleaned any deeper understanding of Laura Bush or her family in this book's sometime far-too restrained prose. Her emotional states are more undulations. And again, while that too is, I think, a reflection of the tastes of a very restrained and cool lady, personal reflections standing alone just rather fail to satisfy and rarely provide any greater insights. It is difficult to say precisely, but I sense a kind of personal fatigue, perhaps, in the writing, an unwillingness to venture too deeply into any waters that could be construed as even remotely controversial. True, she does make some surprising revelations about her positions on, for example, abortion and homosexuality, but again, it's just gloss before moving on to the next gloss. Reading this book was rather like ice skating across a flat pane of clear glass that showed little or nothing underneath.
Still, the book's title is "Spoken from the Heart." So, the tendency to use the prism of her personal reactions to events in her life as opposed to a deeper reflection does make the book live up to the title, even if the presentation is a little too glib, even a little "self-helpy" from time to time. And, as, I think, other reviewers pointed out, there is a very noticeable tendency to use the same memes and language repetitiously. And that always gets on one's nerves because this filler material extends the reading time of the book for longer than it ought to have gone.
Still, as books by public figures go, it's far from "terrible," and the parsed language is a solid reflection of what I imagine Ms. Bush is like in private life. But like the proverbial Chinese dinner, I was hungry thirty minutes later.
Recommended, but only for Laura Bush fans and people with an interest in the Bush family. Otherwise, I would try a couple of chapters in the local library and see if it piques interest enough for check-out or purchase.
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Spoken from the Heart by Laura Bush (Paperback - April 5, 2011)