George W. Bush's memoir blitz
Where to catch President Bush? First there was the "Today Show," Monday morning, which showed clips of the former president being interviewed by Matt Lauer. Later, there's ABC's "Nightline," with Cynthia McFadden asking the questions. But wait, there's more: NBC will air a special, "Matt Lauer Presents," at 8 p.m., with Lauer and Bush talking one-on-one, which executive producer TK Bell described as "a conversation with President Bush about his book." On Tuesday, the Bush will appear on "Oprah," in another one-on-one interview. On Wednesday morning, Bush will appear on the "Today Show," live, for more conversation. And so on.
It's the kind of book publicity most authors only dream of -- of course, most authors haven't been president. And none, other than George W. Bush, was president during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the most significant historical event (so far) of the 21st century.
So "Decision Points" could be expected to shed light on what it was like for the president to navigate the attacks on the World Trade Centers, the Pentagon and what followed. Does it? There are, Jonathan Yardley writes in the Washington Post's review of the book, few surprises:
The presidential memoir as it has evolved, especially in the wake of recent presidencies, is not a memoir as the term is commonly understood -- an attempt to examine and interpret the writer's life -- but an attempt to write history before the historians get their hands on it. Yes, from time to time mistakes must be acknowledged -- on the nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, for instance, "I had sent American troops into combat based in large part on intelligence that proved false," or on Katrina, "The problem was not that I made the wrong decisions. It was that I took too long to decide" -- but the clear purpose of these non-apologies is to humanize the person making them, and to make us like him better for making them.
At the New York Times, Michiko Kakutani agrees, writing, "It is a book that is part spin, part mea culpa, part family scrapbook, part self-conscious effort to (re)shape his political legacy."
Our take on the book is coming soon. Because he's the former president, and with "Decision Points" coming out this week, he's going to be everywhere.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Left photo: The cover of George W. Bush's memoir.
Right photo: Bush the U.S. aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003. Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press