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Books by and about 2020 presidential candidates
Crippled America,
by Donald J. Trump (2015)
United,
by Cory Booker (2016)
The Truths We Hold,
by Kamala Harris (2019)
Smart on Crime,
by Kamala Harris (2010)
Guide to Political Revolution,
by Bernie Sanders (2017)
Where We Go From Here,
by Bernie Sanders (2018)
Promise Me, Dad ,
by Joe Biden (2017)
Conscience of a Conservative,
by Jeff Flake (2017)
Two Paths,
by Gov. John Kasich (2017)
Every Other Monday,
by Rep. John Kasich (2010)
Courage is Contagious,
by John Kasich (1998)
Shortest Way Home,
by Pete Buttigieg (2019)
The Book of Joe ,
by Jeff Wilser (2019; biography of Joe Biden)
Becoming,
by Michelle Obama (2018)
Our Revolution,
by Bernie Sanders (2016)
This Fight Is Our Fight,
by Elizabeth Warren (2017)
Higher Loyalty,
by James Comey (2018)
The Making of Donald Trump,
by David Cay Johnston (2017)
Books by and about the 2016 presidential election
What Happened ,
by Hillary Clinton (2017)
Higher Loyalty ,
by James Comey (2018)
Trump vs. Hillary On The Issues ,
by Jesse Gordon (2016)
Hard Choices,
by Hillary Clinton (2014)
Becoming ,
by Michelle Obama (2018)
Outsider in the White House,
by Bernie Sanders (2015)

Book Reviews

(from Amazon.com)

(click a book cover for a review or other books by or about the presidency from Amazon.com)

Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush, by Molly Ivins


(Click for Amazon book review)

BOOK REVIEW by OnTheIssues.org:

This book is not nearly as negative as people think. It is more of a Texas insider's explanation of how Texas politics works, and how Bush's politics works. Because of its negative reputation, we avoided excerpting this book while Bush was president (it was written while Bush was running for President); hence we do so now as a retrospective.

Molly Ivins was a Texas journalist who followed Bush's career since well before he was elected Governor. The title, "Shrub," sounds like a personal diminution of Bush. Ivins explains it as a dictionary translation of the name of Bush's oil company, "Arbusto," which Bush prefers to translate as "bush."

The book is mostly anti-Bush, but it is not an anti-Bush screed. When Ivins thinks Bush did ok, she says so. She has high praise, for example, for Bush's education policy:

p. 123: "On this issue Bush has been bipartisan in the best tradition of the Texas Legislature, actually working more effectively with Democrats than with many members of his own party. In addition to his impressive performance in the context of the Legislature on education issues, he has used the bully pulpit. In 1998 alone he made 47 speeches on education, almost one a week. Schools are easily his favorite campaign photo op, but he also visits them to dramatize education issues even when he's not running."

Political critics might learn from Ivins' praise -- this passage makes her other criticisms seem much more balanced. The general tone of the book is negative, but the attitude is more explanatory than attacking.

There is plenty to explain about Texas. First, the governor's office is not as powerful a position as in most states -- Texas is referred to as a "weak governor" system. The Lieutenant Governor has more explicit power, presiding over the legislature, and so do three other statewide offices, according to Ivins. On the issues, according to Ivins, Bush's philosophy is anti-environment and pro-"bidness" (Texan for "business") -- which permeates Texan thinking.

Overall, this book is a detailed analysis of Bush's pre-presidential politics. Ivins includes a brief post-presidential summary written in Sept. 2002. We would have liked to hear Ivins' analysis of the Iraq War and other developments, but she passed away shortly after writing her 2002 analysis. Hence this book serves as Ivins' legacy.

-- Jesse Gordon, jesse@OnTheIssues.org, February 2009
 OnTheIssues.org excerpts:  (click on issues for details)
Drugs
    George W. Bush: 1968: Anti-drug poster boy for Air National Guard.
Education
    George W. Bush: Dedicated to TX education, plus Laura's reading initiatives.
Gun Control
    Dick Cheney: Against banning plastic guns & cop-killer bullets.
Principles & Values
    Dick Cheney: OpEd: Selection as VP was unexciting but responsible choice.
    Elizabeth Dole: 1988: Gave religious testimonial at GOP Convention.
    George W. Bush: Jesus saved me from a life of sin.
War & Peace
    George W. Bush: OpEd: 1960s enlistment was into privileged non-combat unit.
Welfare & Poverty
    George W. Bush: Supported church-based poverty program in Rio Grande Valley.
    Kay Bailey Hutchison: Secured $3M federal funds for poverty in Rio Grande Valley.


The above quotations are from Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush, by Molly Ivins.

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