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The Bushes
Cover of The Bushes
The Bushes
Portrait of a Dynasty
Borrow Borrow
Get the inside story on America's most powerful political dynasty.

President George W. Bush leads our nation in a time of unprecedented peril. But how well do we really know him or his remarkable family, whose history often mirrors the history of America? Now, in the first full-scale biography of the Bushes, Peter and Rochelle Schweizer trace the extraordinary trajectory of their rise to power.
Through a series of exclusive, surprisingly candid interviews with members of the family and close friends, the inner workings of this very private family are revealed: their marriages and friendships; the intense sibling rivalry between George W. and Jeb Bush; divisions between father and son over the Iraq war; even Jeb Bush's plans to run for president in 2008. Never-before-seen private photos add even greater detail and depth to this fascinating family portrait.
And above all, we see George W. Bush the way his family does, as an intensely driven person who has a much more complex relationship with his father than has often been portrayed in the media. Family members talk about how he deals with the stresses of the war on terrorism, why he sees it as a "religious war," and how his personal faith influences what he says and does.
The Schweizers also delve into the Bushes' sensitive and secret business dealings, including their long history of involvement in the oil business. Their shrewd alliances with other American dynasties—including the Kennedys, Rockefellers, and Tafts—have all helped to quietly consolidate their power within the Republican Party.
Indeed, what makes the Bushes so successful is that they function less like the great political families before them and more like a high-tech startup: free-flowing, pragmatic, and opportunistic. It is this distinction that assures them an enduring presence on the nation's political stage, making The Bushes essential reading for anyone who cares about America's future.
From the Hardcover edition.
Get the inside story on America's most powerful political dynasty.

President George W. Bush leads our nation in a time of unprecedented peril. But how well do we really know him or his remarkable family, whose history often mirrors the history of America? Now, in the first full-scale biography of the Bushes, Peter and Rochelle Schweizer trace the extraordinary trajectory of their rise to power.
Through a series of exclusive, surprisingly candid interviews with members of the family and close friends, the inner workings of this very private family are revealed: their marriages and friendships; the intense sibling rivalry between George W. and Jeb Bush; divisions between father and son over the Iraq war; even Jeb Bush's plans to run for president in 2008. Never-before-seen private photos add even greater detail and depth to this fascinating family portrait.
And above all, we see George W. Bush the way his family does, as an intensely driven person who has a much more complex relationship with his father than has often been portrayed in the media. Family members talk about how he deals with the stresses of the war on terrorism, why he sees it as a "religious war," and how his personal faith influences what he says and does.
The Schweizers also delve into the Bushes' sensitive and secret business dealings, including their long history of involvement in the oil business. Their shrewd alliances with other American dynasties—including the Kennedys, Rockefellers, and Tafts—have all helped to quietly consolidate their power within the Republican Party.
Indeed, what makes the Bushes so successful is that they function less like the great political families before them and more like a high-tech startup: free-flowing, pragmatic, and opportunistic. It is this distinction that assures them an enduring presence on the nation's political stage, making The Bushes essential reading for anyone who cares about America's future.
From the Hardcover edition.
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    CHAPTER 10

    ONE-ON-ONE

    Anytime the rains came to Midland, rejoicing could be heard in the Bush home. Little George would anxiously pace around the living room in a soiled T-shirt and jeans waiting for it to let up. When it did, he would burst out the front door and join his friends at a nearby pond.

    Thousands of frogs would be there, croaking and hopping about. "Everybody would get BB guns and shoot them," recalls Terry Throckmorton, a childhood friend. "Or we'd put firecrackers in the frogs and throw them and blow them up."

    For the Bush children, Midland was an idyllic place of adventuresome days and placid, star-filled nights. Little George, Jebbie, Marvin, and Neil had the run of the house. Each had their own place in the family, and each tried to define himself within it.

    Little George, the eldest by more than six years and also his father's namesake, spent his free time riding around on his bicycle looking for adventure. It could be something very simple like throwing dirt clods, or catching the matinee at the theater in town. "On Saturdays we'd meet at the ball field and put together a ball game," recalled Robert McCleskey. "In the afternoons we would ride our bikes down to the Ritz and watch the serials, mostly Buck Rogers and cowboy movies."

    Little George was, like his father, a great collector of friends. They came from school, the neighborhood, or the baseball diamond. To those he was particularly close to, he would assign nicknames. It was his mark of friendship.

    Most of his time was spent dreaming about baseball. He had heard from family and friends about the great triumphs of his grandfather, father, and uncles on the baseball diamond. Little George played catcher on the Midland little league team and was a member of the Midland All-Stars. While not the most gifted athlete, he more than made up for it with an innate aggressiveness. He swung the bat so fiercely, coaches would have to urge him to loosen his grip. "He tries so very hard," his father wrote to his friends.

    George often arrived early at Sam Houston Elementary School to play baseball with his friends. The school principal, John Bizilo, would come out on the field, take off his jacket, loosen his tie, and hit a few balls for the boys. Some neighborhood girls would come and watch. One who didn't was a small, pretty girl named Laura Welch, who lived only a few blocks away. Laura and her friends were interested in more refined matters, at least as defined by a young girl. They spent their Saturdays at the Rexall Drug Store sipping Cokes and passed their free time reading or listening to 45s-mostly Buddy Holly, the Drifters, and Roy Orbison-and dancing in their socks.

    Little George didn't have much interest in that sort of thing. If his father was a gentle and obedient child, this son was different. George Walker Bush was, many in the family said, more Walker than Bush. He did little reading except for the occasional Hardy Boys story or a series of mystery books about baseball. He did make one early run at electoral politics, however. In the seventh grade he ran for class president against Jack Hanks, a popular kid. Few expected him to win, but with heavy campaigning and a smile he managed to do so narrowly. (Hanks went on to a political triumph of his own. Four years later he went to Boys Nation and was elected vice president, defeating a young candidate from Arkansas named Bill Clinton.)

    Perhaps baseball more than anything gave George something to share with his father. Big George coached his son's team, which usually played its games on Saturday mornings. Then in the afternoon the fathers would play a pickup game. Word got out-not...

Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Although the family dislikes the comparison, the Bush political dynasty rivals that of the famous Kennedys. George H.W. Bush, like his father, Senator Prescott Bush of Connecticut, committed himself to creating a firm financial foundation before entering politics. Son Jeb Bush built a fortune in Miami real estate before running for Florida governor, and son George W.--well, this family maverick unsuccessfully attempted to strike gold in Texas oil before joining the Bush political bandwagon and winning the race for Texas governor. All generations built political careers on the unyielding bedrock of family loyalty and business relationships. Narrator Robertson Dean is well suited to the subject, with a voice carrying neither Connecticut nor Texas undertones. N.M.C. (c) AudioFile 2004, Portland, Maine
  • The New York Times "Fascinating. . . . Provides illuminating insights into the internal dynamics of the Bush family dynasty."
  • New York Post "If you want to know as fully as can be told the story of how the Bushes rose from Midwestern obscurity to equal the records of families like the Roosevelts, the Kennedys and the Adamses--this is the book."
  • The Washington Post Book World "Revealing about the internal dynamics of this interesting familyÉ. The Bushes opened up to the Schweizers and discussed intimate details of their history."
  • The Providence Journal "No one has gotten as close to penetrating the Bush family dynamics, and the complex relationship between father and son."
  • Fort Worth Star-Telegram "This is a dynasty indeed, no matter how the family demurs. . . . The Schweizers have succeeded in humanizing what can be a curiously detached family by ferreting out fascinating detail."
  • Boston Herald "Offer[s] rare--and controversial--insight into the family some call the Republican Kennedys."
  • Houston Chronicle "What the Schweizers do best is explore that dynamic over three generations of Bush males. . . . This book is the place to start if you want to understand how family has molded the Bush men."
  • Tallahassee Democrat "Offers insights on the Bush relationships and rivalries, their ambitions and their impressions of each other's successes and problems."
  • National Review "Entertaining . . . full of charming anecdotes. . . . A delightful book."
  • The Independent on Sunday "[A] detailed history of the Bush dynasty--sprinkled with anecdotal family gossip that provides fresh humanizing insights . . . along with an intriguing snapshot of the conflicted relationship, fuelled in equal parts by love and competition, between 'Big George,' and 'Little George.'"
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