The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty

Susan Page. Twelve, $32.50 (432p) ISBN 978-1-5387-1364-8
The recently deceased wife of President George H. W. Bush and mother of President George W. Bush exemplifies an old-school style of feminine strength and influence in this warmhearted biography. USA Today Washington bureau chief Page paints Bush (1925-2018), possibly the last First Lady to have had no career, as a sometimes controversial icon of postwar wifely devotion, gamely uprooting herself from her affluent New England home to a chancy new life in Texas and being a full-time (and occasionally depressed) mom to six children—her daughter’s death from leukemia is a moving centerpiece of the narrative—to accommodate her husband’s ambitions. But she was also a canny political animal, Page contends. She persuaded her vacillating husband to go negative with racially tinged campaign ads against Michael Dukakis in the 1988 presidential election, and asked her son pointed questions about the invasion of Iraq; in her own right, she forcefully advocated for literacy programs and opposed discrimination against AIDS patients. There’s little drama in Bush’s story apart from tension between her and Nancy Reagan, and the author’s assessment of her as indispensable to her husband’s political rise feels overstated. But Bush admirers will enjoy Page’s vivid depiction of her as an appealing, down-to-earth, sharp-tongued figure who held her own in a man’s world. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 03/28/2019
Release date: 04/02/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-5491-7001-0
Hardcover - 592 pages - 978-1-5387-1552-9
Compact Disc - 978-1-5491-7924-2
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