No matter what you thought about him as our nation’s president, you have to acknowledge that George W. Bush wasn’t afraid to make decisions. Decision Points walks us through the most controversial decisions made during Bush’s presidency. Fluidity, candidness, and excellent narration contributed to my liking of this book which, I must say, is one of the best I’ve ever read. And with this book being nearly 500 pages, this review just barely scratches the surface!
One thing I didn’t expect were the numerous noteworthy leadership tips that can be picked up throughout the book. Bush describes some of the ways he established common ground with world leaders. He discusses hiring and firing decisions in his cabinet noting that ‘sometimes the best personnel moves are the ones you don’t make.’ We also see how important it is to leverage relationships.
Bush speaks candidly on all topics and I was delighted to find that he is an avid reader. He shares many of the books he read during his presidency including the book he read to start each day. He describes the worst moment of his presidency, his most thrilling trip, the most extraordinary meeting, his greatest disappointment, his most meaningful accomplishment, and one of his biggest regrets as president.
One thing I admire is that Bush made decisions while taking into account the cost of action versus the price of inaction. Sometimes we forget to consider what will happen when we do nothing. It was enlightening to learn what he thought was the price of inaction for the numerous controversial decisions that he made.
I was moved by the chapter on stem cells and I was impressed with the way he dealt with this topic. I got a little teary reading the chapter that followed addressing 9-11. It was shocking to find out that the intelligence agency dropped the ball on a huge tip just prior to the attacks.
Two chapters are devoted to elaborately spelling out his position on Iraq and Afghanistan. He speaks about the impact the death of the soldiers had on him. He also speaks about his interactions with soldiers and their families. Then comes the chapter dedicated to Katrina. Sighs…… I can’t cut him a break on this one. I just can’t.
Partially attributable to Katrina, a common criticism of Bush was that he was disconnected from the American people. Several of his comments left me inclined to believe this was true. I was particularly bothered by his conclusion that if children in third world countries can feel blessed then ‘those of us in comfortable places like America could learn a lesson.’ What's more disturbing is that this comment came during the time when the economy was tanking. It’s insensitive and irresponsible for the president of the United States to disregard or downplay what is happening in the United States because of what may be happening on another continent.
This is becoming a rather lengthy review. I will say in summation that this book may not change how you feel about the things that happened during Bush’s presidency but once you understand why he made those decisions, it might change how you feel about George W. Bush.
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