cover image THE BUSHES: Portrait of a Dynasty

THE BUSHES: Portrait of a Dynasty

Peter Schweizer, Rochelle Schweizer, . . Doubleday, $27.95 (574pp) ISBN 978-0-385-49863-0

Like Kevin Phillips in his bestselling American Dynasty, the Schweizers trace the history of the Bush family back to progenitors George Herbert Walker and Samuel P. Bush. It's easy to spot both continuity and change in four generations of prominent Bushes. Of Prescott Bush's career in business, we're told, "Consensus and camaraderie forged behind closed doors suited him perfectly," a description that fits his grandson's style in the White House. And many of the family's connections span decades: Back in 1928, a firm headed by Prescott Bush purchased Dresser Industries—which today is a subsidiary of Halliburton. However, the family's politics have shifted rightward like those of their party: Prescott Bush lost his first election after being "smeared" as an advocate of birth control, and later he became one of the first senators to denounce Joseph McCarthy—a bold gesture of moderation. Unlike Phillips, the Schweizers try hard to put a positive spin on the family saga. They insist that George H.W. Bush disliked negative campaigning, without mentioning the infamous Willie Horton ad that helped him win the 1988 election. When recounting the Florida election crisis of 2000, they find it "troublesome" that Carol Roberts, who oversaw the Palm Beach recount, was a Gore supporter, but fail to note that election supervisor Katherine Harris helped run Bush's Florida campaign. Thus, while this group portrait usefully gathers much family lore in a single, accessible source, the unbiased, authoritative story of the dynasty remains to be written. (On sale Apr. 6)