41: A Portrait of my Father (book review)

by George W. Bush

I chose the audio version of this book.  It has 7 discs and is a total listening time of seven and one half hours.  The book is read by the author.  Published in 2014 by Random House.

The first and last parts of the book held the most interest for me because they detail the years of former President George H.W. Bush  family and education while the end holds delightful stories of the life of him after his political offices ended in 1992. The middle of the book details, in far too much detail the political muck of campaigns.

Things that impressed me most were the details of how much of an influence the matriarch of the family has and probably still has on the family.  The character qualities she carved into the fiber of her children’s lives are impressive and something I found worthy of attention.  Along with Dorothy Bush’s influence, was the positive influence of Prescott Bush who served politically and set an example for the family.

Wealth played a factor in the Bush lives.  Wealth was earned and not handed down by Prescott.  George H.W. Bush worked tirelessly to provide for his family in the oil industry and is an innovator in some products that are used still today in off shore oil rigs.  He and Barbara lived modestly and frugally in their younger years and reaped the benefits later.  For instance, they started out in apartment living that shared the bathroom with other renters.  The first house they purchased was a mere 950 square feet.

Bush started out as the leader in the Republican party for his county in a highly Democratic area of Texas.  Inserting my personal opinion at this point is that municipal politics is important.  That is where many politicians get their start.  He also lost early elections.

Some people do not know that the Bush family lost a child in death to leukemia when she was a mere three years old.  Like his father, George W. Bush became a pilot also and served military time.  It seems that the other boys did not do any military service.  Bush is portrayed as a strong family man which I believe is also to his merit.  The fact that they started in a strong closely knit community also added to the charm of the book with interesting school and neighborhood stories.

Will this book survive over the years?  Perhaps.  George H.W. has chosen not to write his own memoir.  Often reporters give notice to his socks which are brightly colored and often in patriotic colors; this book leaves the reader with a human interest in the life of Bush, 41.  There may be pages your will skim past that are laden with campaign details and endless names but the story smatterings are worth skimming now and then. His eight years as a Vice President under Ronald Reagan and his own four years as President do leave behind many contributions worth noting.  It is remarkable that he was able to accomplish in his career because during his years as VP and President, he served alongside a Congress that was opposed to most of his ideals.

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