In his upcoming memoir, Decision Points, former president George W. Bush will recount some of the high and low points of his presidency, ranging from sending troops to Afghanistan and Iraq to his victorious 2004 reelection campaign to his administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina.
Bush released a video today to promote the book, which is due out Nov. 9--in time for the Christmas shopping season, but after the election. Set against a black background, Bush speaks directly to the camera and tells viewers what to expect.
“I decided to take an untraditional approach,” Bush says. “Rather than provide an exhaustive chronological account of my life and years in office, I wanted to give readers a glimpse of the presidency from my perspective.” Hence the idea to focus on major decisions, he explains.
Bush says the book begins with his decision to stop drinking at age 40 (“a decision I could not have made without faith”) and tells viewers that after a biographical overview of his life, he’ll offer a chapter on how he selected his Cabinet and senior staff.
Then he launches into a summary of the decisions he writes about in the book: education reform; setting a stem-cell research policy; sending troops into Afghanistan and Iraq; his 2004 reelection campaign; tax cuts; the global AIDS initiative; attempts (and failures) at Social Security and immigration reform; the government response to Hurricane Katrina; and, finally, the bank bailout. In the video, Bush calls the bailout his “decision to set aside ideology to prevent an economic collapse.”
He closes by saying that the book will recount what he did wrong, and what he’d do differently if he had another chance.
Crown Publishers has released little information about the book’s contents until now, though they did recently announce that it will have a first-print run of 1.5 million copies. There will also be an e-book edition with additional audio, video, and primary documents.
The full text of the video is below.
“When I sat down to write my memoirs, I decided to take an untraditional approach. Rather than provide an exhaustive chronological account of my life and years in office, I wanted to give readers a glimpse of the presidency from my perspective. That meant focusing on the most demanding and important part of the job: making decisions. The book opens with a personal decision: quitting drinking at age 40, a decision I could not have made without faith.
“I write a little bit about the experiences that forged my character: growing up in west Texas, being the son of a president, meeting my wife, Laura, and raising our twin daughters. I describe the path that led me into politics and ultimately to make one of the toughest decisions of my life: running for the president of the United States.
“Presidential decisions are shaped by the people around you, so I include a chapter on how I selected the senior members of my cabinet and White House staff. I write about some of our early decisions, such as reforming educational and setting a policy on stem cell research. Then I describe the horror and heroism of September the 11th, 2001, when America suffered the most devastating surprise attack since Pearl Harbor.
“9/11 changed the course of history, and led to the hardest decision any president can make: deploying American troops into combat. I write about the factors I considered and emotions I felt as I sent our forces into Afghanistan and Iraq. I discuss the difficult decisions I made to keep our homeland safe, our successes and setbacks in the battlefield. And the process I followed to change our strategy in Iraq by ordering the troop surge.
“I take readers aboard Air Force One during my reelection campaign in 2004, inside the Oval Office for meetings with members of Congress and world leaders, and behind the scenes for successes like the tax-cut plan and global AIDS initiative, and disappointments like the failure of social security and immigration reform. I write about the response to Katrina. The book ends with an account of the financial crisis of 2008 and my decision to set aside ideology to prevent an economic collapse.
“Along the way I write about the options I considered, the advice that I received, and the principles that guided my actions. I reflect on what I got right, and what I got wrong, and what I’d do differently if I had the chance. It was a privilege of a lifetime to serve as president for eight of the most consequential years in American history. Decision Points is the story of this eventful period as I saw it.”
This article appears in the October 22, 2010 edition of National Journal Daily PM Update.