The Presidency of George W. Bush
Free Press, Hardcover, 9780743277280, 480pp.
Publication Date: September 4, 2007
In this ambitious work of political narrative, Robert Draper takes us inside the Bush White House and delivers an intimate portrait of a tumultuous decade and a beleaguered administration. Virtually every page of this book crackles with scenes, anecdotes, and dialogue that will surprise even long-time observers of George W. Bush.
With unprecedented access to all the key figures of this administration -- from six one-on-one sessions with the president, to Laura Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleeza Rice, Karl Rove, and perhaps 200 other players, some well-known, some not -- Draper has achieved what no other journalist or contemporary historian has done thus far: he has told the story of the Bush White House from the inside, with a special emphasis on how the very personality of this strong-willed president has affected the outcome of events.
Bush loyalists and the growing number of Bush detractors will all find much to savor in this riveting political page-turner. We begin with a revealing lunch at the White House where a testy, hot dog-chomping president finally unburdens himself to the inquisitive reporter, a fellow Texan who well understands the manly argot that courses through this administration.
We revisit the primaries of election-year 2000, in which the character of the candidate and indeed the future of the Republican Party were forged in the scalding South Carolina battle with Senator John McCain. We proceed forward to witness intimately the confusion and the eloquence that followed the September 11 attacks, then the feckless attempts to provide electricity to a darkened Baghdad, the high- and lowlights of the 2004 re-election bid, the startling and fruitless attempt to "spend capital" by overhauling the Social Security system, the inept response to Katrina, the downward spiraling and increasingly divisive war in Iraq.
Though the headlines may be familiar, the details, the utterly inside account of how events transpired will come as fresh reportage to even the most devoted followers of mainstream media coverage. In this most press-wary of administrations, Robert Draper has accomplished a small miracle: He has knocked on all on the right doors, and thus become the first author to tell a personality-driven history of the Bush years. In so doing, he allows us to witness in complete granularity the personal force of a president determined to achieve big things, who remained an optimist in the face of a sometimes harsh unpopularity, who confronted the history of his time with what can surely be described as dead certainty.