My introduction to George W. Bush came from the British media who painted a picture of the Texas governor who'd just swindled his way to winning the 2000 Presidential election as a hapless buffoon with a fondness for drink, and who, without his "family connections" would never have found himself in the position of US President #43.
Of course, much of the fault lies with me for rather naively believing and soaking up everything I read and/or was told, forgetting that many people were distinctly reluctant to forgive President Bush Senior (#41) ten years or so previously, for much of what transpired then, and I have grown to become greatly ashamed at my jumping onto the bandwagon of lampooning "W" as a stupid fool. His book "Decision Points" clearly shows anyone who bothers to read it that George W. Bush was anything but.
Bush himself talks about the way the book is constructed, revealing that he started work on it the day after he left office. The narrative is purposely built around a series of far-reaching decision points faced over the course of his 2 terms, as a demonstration that - to Bush - making decisions is THE number one job of a President. Some decisions were of national significance, some of world significance, and some, such as the response to 9/11 (barely 8 months, remember, since Bush took office) were the kind of decisions you only get one shot at, and which seem all but impossible to make.
Aside from 9/11, some of the other decisions covered in the book are the controversial stem cells issue, and how the US Government should react to that; the financial meltdown that dogged the end of his Presidency, including the crises with Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, and GM; the Hurricane Katrina disaster; and also a host of foreign policy decisions including those concerning Afghanistan, Iraq, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East in general.
What comes across loud and clear from this book is that - for anyone who might be wondering - the job of US President is not in any way an easy one. Probably the hardest job in the world. Yet for every decision made (and remember, he HAD to make some sort of a decision, whatever the political fall out might be) Bush never made or makes any excuses. He always acted out of what he calls "the best interests of our country". Bush cared. Still does. A former playboy type with a fondness for alcohol, Bush had an encounter with God which was very much accelerated by Billy Graham, to the point where he came to power teetotal for a number of years, and with an unshakable faith in God, an irrefutable love for his country, and an undeniable love for the people of America (and much further afield too). To deny any of the above would be fatuous, since it is self evident.
Nobody - least of all George W. Bush himself - will deny that he got decisions wrong, and he is the first to admit, with clearly profound regret, his many failings during his two terms in office. But while you can disagree with his decisions and his policies, no rational person can disagree with the motives of George W. Bush.
This book is eminently readable, and in fact quite often gripping. It is brutally honest and suffused with faith and love...and hope for the future. Since arriving in the US I have met a number of people who are personally acquainted with George W. Bush. They speak of a highly principled, loving, human, and Christian man. I hope one day I might get to meet him myself and to be able to apologize for getting him all wrong, those years ago.