2012 Reading biographies books Faith reading reflections Resources

Reading 2012: Decision Points

April 19, 2012

Unlike most presidential memoirs, President George W. Bush’s biographical account of his White House years doesn’t follow a chronological timeline. Instead, he centers Decision Points around key decisions that he had to make in his personal life and during his presidency.

He makes clear that in retrospect, he doesn’t believe all his decisions were the best, but were what he believed to be the best at the time. He focuses his writing on 14 main decisions (though there are many additional decisions discussed under these main decision divisions), each given a chapter:

  • 1. Quitting
  • 2. Running
  • 3. Personnel
  • 4. Stem Cells
  • 5. Day of Fire
  • 6. War Footing
  • 7. Afghanistan
  • 8. Iraq
  • 9. Leading
  • 10. Katrina
  • 11. Lazarus Effect
  • 12. Surge
  • 13. Freedom Agenda
  • 14. Financial Crisis

As long as the reader can keep in mind that this is not a chronological account, each chapter does a good job filling out the aspects surrounding each “decision point.” (Though, at some points following the chronology can be confusing.) It is clear that President Bush was passionate about the decisions that he  chose to outline in this book.

For some of his decisions, his detailed explanations helped me better understand (though, perhaps still not agree with) his positions and decisions (e.g., occupation in Afghanistan), while others actually made me have more concern over why he made such decision (e.g., some of his implementation into the education system).

President Bush also offered the helpful reminder that we do not yet have the perspective of history that allows us to more objectively look at what was accomplished during a presidency. While he was concerned that readers and citizens take this into consideration while forming opinions on his performance as president, he also asked that the world make the same considerations when making observations about other recent presidencies.

Reading the book was a helpful reminder that the man occupying the White House is a person, both capable of making mistakes and also capable of feeling the hurt and weight of the harsh criticisms often hurled from all directions. And even then, not every government action or decision is not a direct result of the President’s thinking or opinion. America’s government is not run as a tyrannical monarchy, however easy and enjoyable it may be to create memes that depict such.

I enjoyed hearing about Bush’s seemingly “normal” years growing up, as well as his strong family relationships. He also places great emphasis on his religious influence, which is definitely depicted in the book as a very typical, American, Protestant, Evangelical faith for him. Reading about 9-11 from President Bush’s experience was a very moving part of the book.

I don’t believe that to be a good American Christian you must always be a die-hard, conservative Republican. Although I grew up in such a background and am thus more familiar with many of Bush’s talking points, I believe it is important for American citizens to read and understand more about our leaders, regardless of our specific political affiliations or passions. Clearly, the book is written as an autobiography and the author was able to choose what elements and themes to highlight. I enjoyed the book and am thankful for the years this man served our country.

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