A Matter of Character: Inside the White House of George W. Bush

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9781595230140: A Matter of Character: Inside the White House of George W. Bush

More than seventy-five books attacking George W. Bush have been published so far. Now, finally, there's a book that sets the record straight against a backdrop of media bias. And it's not by a conservative idealogue but by an award-winning independent reporter who set out to find the real President Bush behind the two-dimensional public image.

Ronald Kessler was granted unique access to the West Wing and interviewed the key players of the Bush administration-from Condoleezza Rice to Karl Rove to the president himself. Kessler also interviewed Bush's close friends, college roommates, and former aides.

His surprising conclusion: George W. Bush isn't the most articulate or scholarly president in history, but he scores very high on the factors that count most: character and leadership. President Bush has a more clearly defined moral instinct, management style, and self-awareness than any other recent president.

And without question, President Bush is the driving force behind his administration, not the pawn of anyone else. In an age when politicians notoriously hem and haw while trying to please everyone, he makes deft decisions very quickly. He is bolstered by his strong Christian faith and the resolve he gained after giving up alcohol.

For many swing voters, this election will boil down to a matter of character. Kessler's unconventional book-filled with news hooks about life in the West Wing-will help them understand the real George W. Bush. And for readers who already support the president, A Matter of Character is the book they've been waiting for.

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Review:

George W. Bush is a direct and decisive man who is much nicer to his Secret Service agents than Bill Clinton was, according to author Ronald Kessler, and smarter than his critics believe him to be. A Matter of Character, Kessler's examination of the 43rd U.S. President, treads lightly on policy issues as the author instead focuses on Bush's positive personality traits and relates how those traits are positive indicators of his ability as a policymaker and leader of the world's lone superpower. Kessler spoke to several Bush cabinet members, long time friends of Bush, and other associates who speak, perhaps not surprisingly, in glowing terms of what a great guy he is. As for the criticisms of Bush, such as handling of pre-9/11 intelligence, the war in Iraq, and the economy, Kessler dismisses them as the product of jealous former employees, and a pervasive, biased liberal media (particularly Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank). By attacking the accusers instead of thoroughly dissecting the accusations, Kessler misses out on an opportunity to defend the president in a more substantive way. The portrait that ultimately emerges of Bush is not a particularly complicated one. He appears to be a man without flaw, and the book presents a similarly simple view of the greater political landscape: Bush and his allies as honest, shrewd, and virtuous, all others as jerks, fools, and ditherers. A Matter of Character lacks the complexity of Plan of Attack, the book Bob Woodward wrote after gaining similarly close access to Bush and his cabinet. It's more like a forceful piece of campaign material, passionate in its advocacy of the candidate and complete with a heroic black-and-white photograph on the cover, which will give Bush supporters plenty to cheer about. --John Moe

About the Author:

Ronald Kessler, an investigative journalist, is the bestselling author of fourteen nonfiction books, including Inside the White House, The Bureau, and The CIA at War. A former reporter for The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, he has won sixteen journalism awards—including two George Polk awards, one for national reporting and one for community service.

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