What was George W. Bush reading?


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George W. Bush’s memoir ‘Decision Points’ was published this week. Our reviewer Tim Rutten calls it ‘unexpectedly engrossing.’ As can be expected, Bush writes of waterboarding and 9/11, of partisanship and cooperation, of Saddam Hussein and Hurricane Katrina.

He also writes of the books that crossed his path during his eight years in office. There was, first and foremost, the Bible, which he says he read every morning. And there were a few others. Here are those that he mentions by name in ‘Decision Points’:


‘The Aquariums of Pyongyang’ (2001) by Kang Chol-hwan, a North Korean dissident. This was ‘one of the most infludential books I read during my presidency,’ Bush wrote. ‘Brave New World’ (1932) by Aldous Huxley. Read aloud to Bush in the Oval Office by an aide as he was thinking about stem cell research. ‘The Case for Democracy’ (2004) by Natan Sharansky, a Soviet dissdent. ‘Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam’(1997) by H.R. McMaster. ‘Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America’ (1997) by John M. Barry. Bush read this ‘when I was governor.’ ‘Roots’ (1976) by Alex Haley. Bush writes: ‘Laura and I had read the book.’ ‘Theodore Rex’ (2001), the second Theodore Roosevelt biography by Edmund Morris. ‘Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope’ (2008) by Jenna Bush. The former president doesn’t say whether he’s read the book, which is for young adults, but he does mention that his daughter wrote it. ‘Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power’ (2006) by Richard Carwardine. Bush writes that this was ‘one of 14 Licoln biographies I read during my presidency.’

-- Carolyn Kellogg