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The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty Hardcover – September 14, 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (September 14, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385503245
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385503242
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (253 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #858,811 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Kitty Kelley, author of exhaustive and highly unflattering biographies of Frank Sinatra, Jackie Onassis, and the British royal family, among others, has never received much cooperation from her subjects. Likewise, none was given for The First Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty, and it's not hard to understand why. In the book, the family that has produced two presidents as well as an assortment of other politicians, businesspeople, and a number of lesser-known black sheep is portrayed as a powerful empire that leverages wealth and influence to grow ever stronger while stringently covering up numerous instances of drug abuse, infidelity, poor judgment, and scandal. While charges about George W. Bush, including that he snorted cocaine at Camp David while his father was president, garnered the most attention upon the book's release, Kelley's history goes back several generations, detailing the rise to power of Senator Prescott Bush and his son, the first President Bush. Those seeking a salacious peek at the inner sanctum of a wealthy and powerful family will not be disappointed by The First Family--Kelley always delivers on that count--and will likely devour allegations of Barbara Bush's sour temperament, George H.W. Bush's long-standing affair with aide Jennifer Fitzgerald, and George W. Bush's obnoxious drunken frat boy days that stretched, according to Kelley, well into adulthood. Those seeking a rock-solid and airtight indictment of the Bushes, however, will be disappointed, since Kelley leans on anonymous sources and rumors for some of the juicier bits. Interestingly, although it tells the stories of a family built on politics, The First Family mostly avoids the subject, clearing the decks of all political substance in order to put the style on wider display. --John Moe

From Publishers Weekly

Although hardly the most authoritative or the most carefully written, Kelley’s history of the Bush family nonetheless ranks among the most important books of the 2004 political season. A large part of Kelley’s influence comes, of course, from the success of her previous celebrity biographies, among them Jackie Oh!, The Royals and Elizabeth Taylor. But another part comes from her willingness to commit rumors to paper—in other words, to share DC cocktail-party gossip with the masses. Her book will come under a lot of fire for this practice, and with some reason. Many of her most incendiary comments—that Laura Bush was once a "go-to girl for dime bags," that George W. Bush snorted cocaine at Camp David—do appear to be poorly sourced. And as the book progresses from the 1860s to the 2000s, her moderate tone often rises with vividly expressed disgust and indignation. But readers who take Kelley’s dishy allegations with a grain of salt will still find plenty of hard evidence to support her portrayal of the Bush family’s political opportunism, economic privilege and shrewd flip-flopping. Case in point: when George H.W. Bush was chosen as Reagan’s running mate in 1980, he suddenly "dropped his support of the Equal Rights Amendment and vehemently changed his position on abortion." Kelley also takes shots at Democrats Edward Kennedy, Lloyd Bentsen and Lyndon Johnson, and generally laments what she sees as the Republican Party’s turn to the far right. But, overall, her real issues appear to be the same as in her previous books: the abuse of power, the adoption of a false public image, the secreting away of sexual and pharmaceutical peccadilloes. With its focus on these juicy issues, and its occasional nuggets of serious political history, Kelley’s book is sure to gratify her many fans.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

Among the awards that Kitty Kelley has been honored with by her professional peers are the Outstanding Author Award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors for her "courageous writing on popular culture," the Philip M. Stern Award for her "outstanding service to writers and the writing profession," the Medal of Merit from the Lotos Club in New York City, and the 2005 PEN Oakland Literary Censorship Award. She has also been selected as a member of Vanity Fair magazine's Hall of Fame. Her articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, People, Ladies' Home Journal, McCall's, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune.

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

207 of 233 people found the following review helpful By Vivian Anderson on September 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is MUCH better than I thought it would be. I particularly enjoyed Ms. Kelley's thorough grasp of the history of the 60's and 70's and her insight into the Nixon years.

For anyone who is interested in the history of the Texas Air National Guard Documents, Kelley has covered this exhaustively and well. When you read her careful research into this entire situation, you will wonder no more.

Also included is a very clear look at Bush's most closely held political beliefs as recalled by fellow students at Harvard and others who knew him well before he decided to go into politics.

There are 38 pages of citations included in the book-it is extensively and carefully documented.

I recommend it!
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54 of 59 people found the following review helpful By J. Brown on September 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If you can only bear to hear positive things about GWB, obviously this is not the book for you. However, if you can stand criticism of the 41st and 43rd presidents, this is an interesting exploration of a strange family dynamic.

This is apparently a family that has no interest in policy, governing, or anyone outside of their own set. Despite their mediocre intellects and lack of experience, their family connections and intergenerational competition have driven them all the way to the White House.

Sen. Prescott Bush was a businessman who entered the Senate with a mild sense of noblese oblige after a successful career. He was a reasonably principled, moderate Republican with a surprisingly good civil rights record. His son, GHWB had a brief but successful business career thanks to family connections and some luck in oil exploration. He then gravitated to the upper echelons of government, never holding a position for more than a year. His political career was considerably less principled than his father's beginning with his opportunistic about face on abortion and ending with the Iran Contra scandal (ironically, this scandal was first brought to public attention by freshman Sen. John Kerry). The third generation was even less promising. Phi Beta Kappa Jeb Bush showed the most intellectual promise surrounded by brothers with learning disabilities, but it was his wastrel older brother who managed to be in the right place at the right time.

Kitty Kelley's writing style is interesting and lucid. The book is well researched and adequately footnoted. The charges from other "reviewers" of information from "unnamed sources" are false. It is not meant to be a scholarly examination of the the policies and the successes and failures of the Bush administrations. It is meant to be a popular biography of a family. I found it neither admiring nor overly critical. In fact, I might even be inclined to call it fair and balanced....
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109 of 124 people found the following review helpful By Reader on September 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Finally, some truths about George W. Bush. The guy is the ultimate hypocrite, yet we have to wait until 4 years into his presidency before a book will talk about the way he paid his girlfriend Robin Lowman Garner to abort his baby in the early 1970s. The hypocrisy and greed of George W. Bush and his family members is mind-boggling. This book will provide you with an overview before you move on to the serious books and news stories that are finally dissecting Bush's inadequate National Guard record. Memos or not, detail upon detail is building a picture of extreme dishonesty. What kind of man, wanting his superiors to know where he is, fills out forms using his OLD addresses? Bush, of course.
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63 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Steven E Rustad on September 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Kitty Kelley deserves praise for exposing the two most ridiculous presidents we've had since Richard Nixon. For far too long, George Herbert Hoover Bush and George W. Bush have gotten away with portraying themselves as righteous defenders of "family values" and men of honesty and integrity. What a farce. In this book, Kitty Kelley reveals the selfishness and hypocrisy of these two politicians, who smeared their way to elective office time and time again and got away with it. In the 1988 primaries, Bush Senior lied about Bob Dole's record, but instead of being held accountable by the press, they hammered Dole for objecting to it! Hiring that sleazebag Lee Atwater as campaign manager, spouting "read my lips, no new taxes," campaigning in flag factories, and using the race card with the Willy Horton ad are Bush Senior's pathetic legacy. As Kitty Kelley relates, Dubya makes his scheming opportunist father look like a choirboy in comparison. For those right wingers who whine about unnamed sources, I would point out that Dubya issued an unprecedented executive order locking away forever his father's presidential records and his own records as governor of that southern Third Reich otherwise known as Texas. The Bush family is infested with hypocrites, and it's about time the whole world knew it. Masquerading as all-American boys, Jeb and Dubya subverted a presidential election in 2000, then mocked Democrats as sore losers. Smears, lies, and arrogance pervade the lives of these scam artists, and this will be a much better country when they are tossed out of power. Thank you, Kitty Kelley, you have written a book that few other people would have had the guts to write. When Dubya told us in the 2000 presidential debates, "Don't mess with Texas!" you apparently weren't all that impressed, and I congratulate you for messing with Texas big time!
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103 of 117 people found the following review helpful By Truth4all on September 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If you consider yourself a true american, a patriot, a true christian. You must read this book. Kitty Kelly is a hero. She has shown America and the World the reality of the Bush Family, and George W himself. We have been sold a bill of goods. They have been portrayed as the Cleavers and they are really the Sopranos. They are dirty.

George W was AWOL from the Guard, a cocaine addict, and a hell raiser. He has the IQ of a carrot. It also shows how the Bush family is bed with the Saudis. Our nation is at risk by what they have done. I have heard a lot of people criticize Kitty Kelley, but NOBODY is refuting the facts in her book. This book is a must read. It shows the true colors of George W. Bush, and shows why he must not remain our Puppet President
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