From Publishers Weekly
To the present governors of Texas and Florida, his sons George and Jeb, who worried that they might upstage their famous dad, former President Bush wrote: “Do not worry when you see the stories that compare you favorably to a Dad for whom English was a second language.” President Bush was indeed famously inarticulate in public. But in this collection of diary entries, memos and letters written between 1942, when he started navy flight school, to March 1999, when he wrote a friend to express his consternation that his e-mail server was down, Bush proves himself to have been a gracious and staggeringly prolific correspondent. There are long letters, such as the September 1944 missive to his parents relating how he was shot down over the Pacific. And there are truly funny diary entries from his presidency about the Scowcroft Award, a running gag in the Bush cabinet named after National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, who apparently had an uncanny knack for napping in meetings: “A fantastic challenge by Ed Derwinski. very firm eye closure and a remarkable recovery gambit.” Naturally, there are long letters to world leaders such as Deng Xiaoping, King Hussein, Mikhail Gorbachev and others about matters of historical import. Diary entries cover the Tiananmen Square massacre, the failed coup against Gorbachev, the Gulf War and other crises (though there’s hardly anything about the Iran-contra scandal). Rarely does Bush display any partisan bitterness, and even then it’s not very pungent (though he’s consistently irked by the press). Bush must have been tempted to write a memoir intended to beat historians to the interpretive punch. This modest alternative is refreshing and, in many ways, will shed more light on the man’s personal character and public persona than any memoir or biography could. It offers an intriguing picture of a man who takes fierce pride in his modesty.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
As former president Bush evidently does not intend to write an autobiography, this volume of selected letters, diary entries, and memos will have to do.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
The former president presents his autobiography in the form of annotated letters, journal entries, a few speeches, and assorted documents. Like many collections of letters, this one is not uniformly interesting. Some of the scores of letters are dull, some superfluous, others patently self-serving (and readers may wonder if the many ellipses replace some of the most revealing passages). But Bush emerges as an uncomplicated, decent, thoughtful mana man who unashamedly espouses the values of hearth, home, and friendship (and dog ownership!), who was at all times exactly what he appeared to be, who loved his wife (he says that he wants on his gravestone only these words: “He loved Barbara very much”), loved his children, loved his country. The letters are chronologicalbeginning with a section called “Love and War,” ending with “Looking Forward”and chronicle in surprising detail Bush’s life from his 1942 enlistment in the navy to the present. In the letters (and in his accompanying notes) are some fascinating comments and events. Young Barbara (not yet his wife) was “so darn attractive”; Bill Clinton (then governor) was “a very nice man”; John Dean (the Watergate whistle-blower) was “a small, slimy guy”; Pat Buchanan could be “mean and ugly”; Barbara snores; Bush “never regretted” selecting Dan Quayle as his running mate; he was enraged at Newsweek for a cover story that suggested he was a wimp; and his “damnedest experience” was throwing up on the Japanese prime minister in 1992. Although Bush hates psychological profiles, he reveals a bit of his inner life here, most poignantly so when he admits that his loss to Clinton “hurt, hurt, hurt.” Somewhat nettlesome is Bush’s insistence on referring to just about everyone as a friend, close friend, or great friend. Please. One must search carefully in this large brown carpet to find the silver and golden threadsbut they are there. — Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
“Who knew that beneath George Bush’s buttoned-up propriety pulsed the warm heart of a prolific and occasionally poetic writer with wacky sense humor?” (People
“Worth it’s weight in gold….the new edition of “All the Best” is a valuable update of the life of an honorable American leader. It captures the reflections of a man who has scaled the highest mountain of political success — then moved beyond ambition and discovered peace and fulfillment in simpler things in life: his friends, his family and a genuine love of the country he once led.” (Washington Post)
“Bush’s collected letters in this book offer readers not only a better understanding of Bush as president, politician, diplomat, and head of the CIA, but also his thoughts and feelings as a father and husband, thanks to the many personal letters that are included.” (Christian Science Monitor)
Jennifer Harper The Washington Times
The travelogue of an observant man with much mettle and an open heart….His writings cover affairs of state and affairs of spaniels on equal footing. He is modest and gracious. But these short takes on a long life reveal an underlying, consistent sense of duty to office, family and morality.
Who knew that beneath George Bush’s buttoned-up propriety pulsed the warm heart of a prolific and occasionally poetic writer with a wacky sense of humor?
Jon Meacham Newsweek
An unusual glimpse of the private thoughts of a public figure
Guest Review of “All the Best, George Bush: My Life in Letters and Other Writings”
By Barbara Bush
George has always been known for his prodigious letter-writing – whether they are funny, sad, whimsical, serious – they all tell a story. Through his letters, you will see what I have seen for the past 68 years – George H.W. Bush is the most decent, dearest man; the most loving father; a friend to all.
Even though George went on to become a congressman, ambassador, Director of the CIA, Vice President and President, he never thought his work was finished. In recent years George partnered with President Clinton – the Odd Couple – to raise funds to aid in the relief efforts following the catastrophic tsunami in Southeast Asia and Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ike in the Gulf Coast states. You can read all about the Odd Couple and more in this new edition of All the Best.
I have just reread the book for about the 5th time. The new letters are just wonderful, but I loved rereading the old ones as well. I remember when the book first came out 15 years ago, a number of book reviews said these letters were an amazing way to tell one’s life story – much more honest and revealing than an autobiography. (Which is good since we could not talk George into writing one.) I could not agree more. These letters really are a window into George Bush’s soul.
There are letters from World War II, when he wrote his mother just about every thought he had, including the day after he was shot down; there is a letter about our dear Robin, who died of leukemia at age 3; there are letters about Watergate, living in China, and meeting Mikhail Gorbachev for the first time. There are letters about what it means to win – and lose – the Presidency. And what it means to see a son become President. There are letters about 9-11 and Katrina and the death of John Paul II.
His letters to his children and grandchildren about aging are especially dear and poignant and honest.
And, yes, there are some funny and even silly letters – about broken toilets and the Aflac duck. There’s even one admonishing his college-aged granddaughters not to become “girls gone wild” on Spring Break.
I was reminded again of how lucky I am to have married this amazing man, and what a great adventure life with George Bush has been.
So I hope you enjoy reading this compilation of letters as much as I did… and may it show you all the best in life!
About the Author
George H.W. Bush, forty-first president of the United States (1989-1993), is the author of Speaking of Freedom, a collection of his speeches and coauthor with Brent Scowcroft of the critically acclaimed 1998 book A World Transformed. He and his wife, Barbara, live in Houston, Texas, and Kennebunkport, Maine.
Former President George H.W. Bush, revealed through his letters and writings from 1941 to 2010, is “worth its weight in gold…a valuable update of the life of an honorable American leader” (The Washington Post).
“Who knew that beneath George Bush’s buttoned-up propriety pulsed the warm heart of a prolific and occasionally poetic writer with a wacky sense of humor?” (People) Though reticent in public, George Bush openly shared his private thoughts in correspondence throughout his life. This collection of letters, diary entries, and memos is the closest we’ll ever get to his autobiography.
Organized chronologically, readers will gain insights into Bush’s career highlights—the oil business, his two terms in Congress, his ambassadorship to the UN, his service as an envoy to China, his tenure with the Central Intelligence Agency, and of course, the vice presidency, the presidency, and the post-presidency. They will also observe a devoted husband, father, and American. Ranging from a love letter to Barbara and a letter to his mother about missing his daughter, Robin, after her death from leukemia to a letter to his children written just before the beginning of Desert Storm, this collection is remarkable for Bush’s candor, humor, and poignancy.
“An unusual glimpse of the private thoughts of a public figure” (Newsweek), this revised edition includes new letters and photographs that highlight the Bush family’s enduring legacy, including letters that cover George W. Bush’s presidency, 9/11, Bush senior’s work with President Clinton to help the victims of natural disasters, and the meaning of friendship and family. All the Best, George Bush “will shed more light on the man’s personal character and public persona than any memoir or biography could” (Publishers Weekly).