Category Archives: Adult Non-Fiction

Non-Fiction Shelves – None Like Him by Jen Wilkin

A Balanced and Readable Christian Study of God

None Like Him: 10 Ways God Is Different from Us (and Why That’s a Good Thing)
by Jen Wilkin


Publication Date: April 30, 2016
Publisher: Crossway
Length: 163pp
ISBN-13: 978-1433549830

Related Links:
Jen Wilkin’s Blog: The Beginning of Wisdom

Publisher’s Website (includes excerpt and reviews)

 

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Publisher Synopsis

God is self-existent, self-sufficient, eternal, immutable, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, sovereign, infinite, and incomprehensible.

We’re not.

And that’s a good thing.

Our limitations are by design. We were never meant to be God. But at the root of every sin is our rebellious desire to possess attributes that belong to God alone.

Calling us to embrace our limits as a means of glorifying God’s limitless power, Jen Wilkin invites us to celebrate the freedom that comes when we rest in letting God be God.


My Review

If you’re looking for some new feel-good aphorisms to tell you how special you are as one of God’s created beings, None Like Him: 10 Ways God is Different from Us (and Why That’s a Good thing) isn’t that kind of book. And that’s a good thing!

Wilkin’s aim with None Like Him is to help us “consider the majesty of a limitless God” and to make His “perfections” become “the most rational object of our reverence and awe” while asking us “to stare down our tendency to ask others and even ourselves to be what only God is”.

Jen Wilkin leads off by referencing a familiar female favorite, Psalm 31. She then describes two commonly invoked images of the “God-fearing” woman — the staunch, high-collared progenitor whose likeness might be captured in old ancestral family portrait; and the perpetually smiling, always optimistic ‘Suzy Sunshine’ who so dearly loves the Lord.

Luckily, Wilkin gifts us with a discussion of neither of these extremes. Instead, she anchors her analysis to a different verse of scripture: Psalm 111:10 : “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Next, she gives us a working definition for fear that draws a balanced picture of God encompassing both a Heavenly King and a loving Father. From there, to help her reader “learn a holy fear for a God like no other,” Wilkins uses the next ten chapters to explain “10 ways God is different from us”.

Each chapter begins with an anecdote and ends with a listing of verses (previously referenced in the text) for further reading, questions for reflection with space for written responses, and a prayer prompt to help you write your own prayer centered around the chapter’s thematic content. Having the Bible verses listed is a handy tool, as are the questions which help you synthesize and apply what you’ve read. Finally, ending with a prayer personalizes each lesson and take its message into your heart. Having this all in one place, rather than divided into a separate book and study guide/journal/devotional, not only saves space and money, but eliminates unnecessary duplication. I’d like to see this format used more often.

Excluding devotionals, in my experience reading books categorized as “Christian Living,” I’ve generally come across two kinds: theological discourse written by pastors, clergy, or scholars (more often marketed to men — often other clergy/theologians); and encouraging self-help/motivational texts supported by scripture (more often aimed at women and laypeople). I’ve always puzzled over why there appears to be such a divide: emotionally-driven materials are presented to women, while rational/logical arguments are directed at men.

Just as Wilkin sheds new light on the “God-fearing woman” of Psalm 31, she offers up a different, more balanced kind of text — one that combines a conversational, confessional tone with logical, scriptural argument while never getting too bogged down in theology. In essence, None Like Him is the happy medium that can be enjoyed by both the cleric and the layman. The result is a readable, yet never watered-down message that works to increase rather than dilute our reverence for the Lord.

— Dawn Teresa

Verdict

5 of 5 Hearts. A Balanced and Readable Christian Study of God.

Jen Wilkin combines her conversational tone with rational argument while never overpowering her reader with lofty theological discourse. In essence, None Like Him is the ideal hybrid whose message can be received and appreciated by cleric and layman alike.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Flyby Promotions for providing me with a copy of  None Like Him in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Week in Reviews: ReadLove Recap For the Week Beginning February 29, 2016

 

Another week has come and gone at ReadLove ! Here’s what you may have missed:

Monday:

Christian Chapters: Hannah’s Choice by Jan Drexler

3.5 of 5 Hearts. An Engaging, Yet Somber View of Amish Life in Conestoga, Pennsylvania, 1842.

Jan Drexel gives the reader a carefully researched, historically rich look at the forces which may have led Amish settlers, including some of her own ancestors, to leave Lancaster County and travel westward to Indiana. Though somber, Hannah’s Choice never loses hope while carrying its message that nothing is more important than faith and family.

[Read the full review]






Tuesday:

Non-Fiction Shelves – You’re Already Amazing LifeGrowth Guide by Holley Gerth

5 of 5 Hearts. An Encouraging, Empowering, Scripturally-Sound Guide To Becoming the You God Created You To Be.

If you’re feeling lost, broken, unloved, imperfect, insignificant, overwhelmed, or all of these things, don’t fret. Holley Gerth’s You’re Already Amazing LifeGrowth Guide can help. You might say it’s like a road map, or, if you’re directionally challenged like I am, a GPS for your heart. What’s more, it’s as comforting as chocolate, hot cocoa, coffee, or ice cream! My advice? Set down your burden, dry your tears, pour a cup of tea or grab a cookie, and sit down for a “talk” with Holley!

[Read the full review]

 

 

 

Thursday:

Christian Chapters: A Reluctant Bride by Kathleen Fuller

5 of 5 Hearts. A Beautiful Testament to God’s Ability to Rebuild, Renew, and Restore.

A Reluctant Bride is not a fairy-tale romance or swoon fest, but it demonstrates clearly how God can take broken pieces of shattered hearts and create something not only beautiful but unbreakable. For that reason, it may just be the perfect love story.

[Read the full review]

 

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That’s everything that happened on ReadLove this week. See you next week!

Until then, I’d love it if you shared a bit about your week in the comments!

Non-Fiction Shelves – You’re Already Amazing LifeGrowth Guide by Holley Gerth

An Encouraging, Empowering, Scripturally-Sound Guide To Becoming the You God Created You To Be

You’re Already Amazing LifeGrowth Guide
by Holley Gerth


Publication Date: March 1, 2016
Publisher: Revell
Length: 201pp
ISBN-13: 978-1493403738

Related Links:
Holley Gerth’s Blog & Website (Loads of Videos and Other Resources)

You’re Already Amazing (BOOK)

You’re Already Amazing (DVD)

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Buy the Book

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Publisher Synopsis

Embrace who you are and become all God created you to be.

Through her Wall Street Journal bestselling book You’re Already Amazing, Holley Gerth dared and empowered women to discover who God made them to be and pursue his purpose for their lives. Now Holley will help you build on that foundation and experience even greater life transformation.

In this interactive LifeGrowth study, Holley will guide you through an engaging process that will help you apply heart-freeing truths in every aspect of your life, from relationships to work to how you pursue your dreams. God’s plans for your life are better than you can imagine, and you’ll see them unfold in new ways as Holley encourages you to embrace this life-changing truth–that you truly are already amazing.

SIX SESSIONS
1. Who God Created Us to Be
2. What’s True No Matter How We Feel
3. Our Amazing Journey with Jesus
4. God’s Plan for Our Relationships
5. God’s Purpose for Our Lives
6. How We Can Thrive for a Lifetime


My Review

Have you ever felt like less than good enough? Like you need to be doing something different? Like you need to do more or be more? Do you look around and feel like your accomplishments don’t measure up to those of your peers? Do you worry that your talents are insufficient or your work is insignificant? I sure have! But have I got good news for you!

MaryE - Never Fit InTake a look at this cute graphic by artist Mary Engelbreit. It’s featured as the month of February on her “Attitude is Everything” 2016 mini calendar. I’ve been looking at it all month at work. And I’ve decided that with one tweak, the sentiment attached to her illustration would tie right in with what I’ve been reading and gleaning from Holley Gerth’s You’re Already Amazing LifeGrowth Guide. “You were born to stand out” should be amended to read, “You were created to stand out.”

Studying the You’re Already Amazing LifeGrowth Guide, and the similarly titled book which it supplements, is like having a heart-to-heart chat with a dear girlfriend — the best kind of girlfriend. You know the kind I mean (and I hope you have one!) – that beautifully positive and encouraging spirit who is always there when you need her. Depending on your circumstances, she’s a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, a partner in giggles, or a cheerleader to celebrate you. She always seems to know what you need to hear. Holley Gerth does all that because she’s got a knack for communicating God’s truth. If, like me, you’ve spent one too many days feeling like a hamster on a wheel, Holley’s LifeGrowth Guide will help you step off, catch your breath, and understand that you are already enough. You are more than enough. You are amazing!

Holley does a terrific job of helping unpack why we women can be so hard on ourselves, why we feel the need to compare ourselves to others or seek perfection. Why we find it hard to show ourselves the same mercy we so freely and willingly extend to others. Holley helps you break out of those negative thought patterns by teaching you to look to scripture in order to replace the lies (from others and yourself) that seem to be looping in your mind with God’s voice and God’s truth. For example, God’s answer to the enemy’s lie “You’re not pretty enough” is “You are much more than pretty…You are wonderfully made” (Psalm 139).

What else will you take away from the LifeGrowth Guide? Plenty! Holley’s a counselor and life coach. She’ll help you take a look at yourself, your strengths and skills, your emotional style, your social strengths, and much more. She offers professional development, self-assessment, affirmation, and empowerment, all from a Christian perspective. Along with biblical analogies (For instance, she likens where you are in your journey to different stages of the Israelites’ migration from Egypt to the Promised Land.), Holley uses examples from her own life and from her friends and clients, written in an easy, conversational tone. As she suggests, you’ll feel like you’re sitting down one-on-one for coffee. And at the end of your little chat, you won’t merely walk away with feel-good aphorisms and a fleeting smile on your face. You’ll step out in faith and confidence with a set of tools, a renewed sense of purpose, a LIFE (Love Is Faith Expressed) Statement, and a firm belief that you are already amazing! (Don’t freak out! The LIFE Statement can be a rough draft; it will probably change. And that’s okay because God’s goal for you is growth, not perfection.) So keep walking side-by-side with God toward the ‘Promised Land’ of your wildest hopes, dreams, and prayers. And should you get stuck or feel like you’re ‘wandering in the desert’, take heart: I’m right there with you!

— Dawn Teresa

Verdict

5 of 5 Hearts. An Encouraging, Empowering, Scripturally-Sound Guide To Becoming the You God Created You To Be.

If you’re feeling lost, broken, unloved, imperfect, insignificant, overwhelmed, or all of these things, don’t fret. Holley Gerth’s You’re Already Amazing LifeGrowth Guide can help. You might say it’s like a road map, or, if you’re directionally challenged like I am, a GPS for your heart. What’s more, it’s as comforting as chocolate, hot cocoa, coffee, or ice cream! My advice? Set down your burden, dry your tears, pour a cup of tea or grab a cookie, and sit down for a “talk” with Holley!

288567_YoureAlreadyAmazingLGGGerth_posts_V23

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Holley Gerth for providing me with a copy of the LifeGrowth Guide and DVD in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Week in Reviews: ReadLove Recap For the Week Beginning February 2nd

 

Another week has come and gone at ReadLove ! Here’s what you may have missed:

Monday:

Kids Corner: The Lost Years by T. A. Barron




4.5 of 5 Hearts. An Uplifting, Inspiring Magical Fantasy. Pick up a copy of The Lost Years and embark on a journey with Emrys, a young man on his way to becoming the famed Merlin the Magician. Like Odysseus before him, Emrys is not a hero without flaws. He has much to learn. But with the help of some interesting friends and some troublesome foes, he’s on his way to understanding the meaning of words like friendship, love, sacrifice, heroism, and home.  [Read the full review]

 

Wednesday:

Non-Fiction Shelves: Beatleness by Candy Leonard

 

 

4.5 of 5 Hearts. An Outstanding Sociological Study of Beatlemania from the Fans’ Perspective. A rarity among the thousands of books written about the Beatles, Beatleness is required reading for anyone, fan or otherwise, who wants to learn exactly what the Fab Four meant to their fans, and how, in a mere half-dozen years, they were able to rock the establishment and help thrust the world in a new direction.  [Read the full review]

 

Thursday:

Kids Corner: T.A. Barron – “Countdown to a Meaningful Life” Week 2: Courage

ReadLove joins T.A. Barron for a special blog series to celebrate the upcoming publication of The Wisdom of Merlin: 7 Magical Words for a Meaningful Life. This seven-week countdown campaign will be based on Merlin’s answer to the question, “What is the meaning of life?”

Surprisingly, the answer has only seven words…but they are the most powerful words of all.

Join with us each week as we focus on one of these magical words with supporting content that will help us acknowledge, reflect, practice, and get inspired to embark on a new adventure or live life to its fullest.

Second Magical Word: Courage  [Read the full article]

 

Saturday:

Kids Corner: A Plague of Unicorns by Jane YolenPlague of Unicorns, A

 

 

4 of 5 Hearts. Strong Medieval Historical Fiction with a Sprinkling of Fantasy. Simultaneously entertaining, edifying, and inspiring. In addition to teaching a bit of history and a few Latin phrases, Yolen’s A Plague of Unicorns demonstrates to children that even the smallest of us has the capacity to be heroic.  [Read the full review]






That’s everything that happened on ReadLove this week. See you next week!

Until then, I’d love it if you shared a bit about your week in the comments!

Non-Fiction Shelves: The Pirates Own Book by the Marine Research Society

As Exciting and Grisly as a Pirate Raid!


The Pirates Own Book
by the Marine Research Society


Reprint Edition: May 24, 1993
Publisher: Dover Publications, Inc.
Length: 469pp
ISBN-13: 978-0486276076

Related Links:
Publisher’s Website

 


Buy the Book

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Publisher Synopsis

In these delightfully melodramatic accounts, originally published in an extremely rare 1837 volume, you’ll find true stories of the diabolical desperadoes who plundered ships on the high seas and murdered their passengers and crews.


My Review

Okay. You’ve spent the day talking like a pirate, now it’s time to read about pirates! The Pirates Own Book is a great place to start. Subtitled Authentic Narratives of the Most Celebrated Sea Robbers, the book is packed with adventure, high-sea ambushes, life-or-death moments, bloody killings, and yes, executions — because pirates didn’t generally get to retire and live peacefully off their booty. Nearly every famous pirate’s story is told: Captain Kidd, Black Beard, Jean LaFitte, Anne Bonney, and a score of other maritime bandits. The illustrations, reproduced from the original, do an excellent job of depicting the violence and mayhem of a pirate’s life, and the terror and destruction suffered by his unfortunate victims.

And should you want to sing like a pirate, there’s a song for you, too:

To the mast nail our flag, it is dark as the grave,
Or the death which it bears while it sweeps o’er the wave….

Yo-Ho-Ho, indeed!!

— Jennifer Michelle

Verdict


4 of 5 Hearts. As Exciting and Grisly as a Pirate Raid!

Not for the faint of heart, The Pirates Own Book will shiver your timbers! Argh, matey!

 

Book Review: One Way Love by Tullian Tchvidjian

(click on book cover to buy at Amazon.com)

One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace For An Exhausted World 

by Tullian Tchvidjian

Description from Amazon.com:
Real life is long on law and short on grace—the demands never stop, the failures pile up, and fear sets in. Life requires many things from us—a stable marriage, successful children, a certain quality of life. Anyone living inside the guilt, anxiety, and uncertainty of daily life knows that the weight of life is heavy. We are all in need of some relief.

Bestselling author Tullian Tchividjian is convinced our exhausted world needs a fresh encounter with God’s inexhaustible grace—His one-way love. Sadly, however, Christianity is perceived as being a vehicle for good behavior and clean living—and the judgments that result from them—rather than the only recourse for those who have failed over and over and over again. Tchividjian convincingly shows that Christianity is not about good people getting better. If anything, it is good news for bad people coping with their failure to be good. 

In this “manifesto,” Tchividjian calls the church back to the heart of the Christian faith—grace. It is time for us to abandon our play-it-safe religion, and to get drunk on grace. Two hundred-proof, unflinching grace. It’s shocking and scary, unnatural and undomesticated … but it is also the only thing that can set us free and light the church—and the world—on fire.

My Review:

Those who know me well know that Tullian is one of my favorite religious leaders and speakers. I enjoy watching Coral Ridge Presbyterian services online, and I read and heartily enjoyed Tullian’s recent work Jesus + Nothing = Everything. So, when offered the opportunity to read and review this new book, I jumped at the chance.What did I think? I loved it. Why? Let me tell you. It’s neither a self-help book nor a pretentious, stuffy theological treatise. Make no mistake, Tullian is well-educated and trained, and the theology is sound. However, this book is written for the modern, every-day person, not just for pastors and theologians.Tullian’s introduction presents an exhausted, broken world filled with frustrated, hurting people. And in this book, he explores two questions: “What is the cause for our exhaustion?” and “What is the cure?”In short, the answer to the first question is that “we are trying to save ourselves” through good works and performancism (defined by Tullian as “the mindset that equates our identity and value directly with our performance”). In discussing performancism, Tullian defines and discusses law, both “big-l Law” and “little-l law.” The first, being God’s biblical law, and the second being society’s laws and expectations.

The answer to the second question (“What is the cure?”) is, to oversimplify, Jesus — grace.

Tullian’s examinations of law and grace, as well as discussions of justification by works versus justification by faith brings the reader to a greater understanding of grace. Before you think, “Oh, this is going to rationalize lazy Christians,” pause and reconsider. As Christians, we all intellectually understand what Christ did for us. The gospel was preached to us as the Good News that brought us to the Lord. But, unfortunately, once we get to Jesus, we tend to forget what He did for us. Instead, we begin to try to earn our way to Heaven. Tullian’s book uses both real-life examples — many from his own life — and biblical support to illustrate what grace, or “one-way love”, looks like. Of course, grace cannot be fully understood in an intellectual manner; rather, it is felt or experienced.

Tullian has experienced this one-way love, and is passionately dedicated to declaring the gospel to the world. Because we continually forget what Jesus did for us, he preaches grace and the message of the gospel again and again.

Reading this book can be a liberating experience. It will remind you that “It is finished!” So stop running on that hamster wheel. Stop trying to fix everything and everyone, including yourself. Lean instead on Christ who succeeded that you might be free to fail.

About Tullian Tchvidjian: 

While you may not be familiar with Tullian Tchvidjian, Senior Pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, chances are you know his grandfather, the Reverend Billy Graham. In additon to his pastorial duties, Pastor Tullian lectures at Knox Theological Seminary and is the founder of LIBERATE.

Pastor Tullian and One Way Love on the Web: 

Below, view a sermon on the topic of the book:
Please disregard the butchering of his name by the gentleman who introduces him. His name is pronounced TULL-ee-an cha-VIDG-in. (As Tullian says, it rhymes with religion.)

Excerpts available here:

*Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received the above book for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Non-Fiction Shelves: Decision Points by George W. Bush

A Candid, Heart-Felt, Must-Read Memoir of a President and a Man

Decision Points
by George W. Bush
Publication Date: November 2010
Publisher: Crown Publishers
Length: 497pp
Age Range: Adult
ISBN-13: 978-0307590619

Related Links:

Office of George W. Bush

Publisher’s Website (includes Excerpt & Teacher’s Guide


Buy the Book

Amazon

BN

 

 

 

 

 


Publisher Synopsis

In this candid and gripping account, President George W. Bush describes the critical decisions that shaped his presidency and personal life.

George W. Bush served as president of the United States during eight of the most consequential years in American history. The decisions that reached his desk impacted people around the world and defined the times in which we live.

Decision Points brings readers inside the Texas governor’s mansion on the night of the 2000 election, aboard Air Force One during the harrowing hours after the attacks of September 11, 2001, into the Situation Room moments before the start of the war in Iraq, and behind the scenes at the White House for many other historic presidential decisions.

For the first time, we learn President Bush’s perspective and insights on:

His decision to quit drinking and the journey that led him to his Christian faith

The selection of the vice president, secretary of defense, secretary of state, Supreme Court justices, and other key officials

His relationships with his wife, daughters, and parents, including heartfelt letters between the president and his father on the eve of the Iraq War

His administration’s counter-terrorism programs, including the CIA’s enhanced interrogations and the Terrorist Surveillance Program

Why the worst moment of the presidency was hearing accusations that race played a role in the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, and a critical assessment of what he would have done differently during the crisis

His deep concern that Iraq could turn into a defeat costlier than Vietnam, and how he decided to defy public opinion by ordering the troop surge

His legislative achievements, including tax cuts and reforming education and Medicare, as well as his setbacks, including Social Security and immigration reform

The relationships he forged with other world leaders, including an honest assessment of those he did and didn’t trust

Why the failure to bring Osama bin Laden to justice ranks as his biggest disappointment and why his success in denying the terrorists their fondest wish — attacking America again — is among his proudest achievements

A groundbreaking new brand of presidential memoir, Decision Points will captivate supporters, surprise critics, and change perspectives on eight remarkable years in American history — and on the man at the center of events.


My Review

In March 2004, President George W. Bush’s daughter Jenna, in her final year at college, sent him a heartfelt letter asking that he consider allowing her to help him campaign for re-election. She wrote:

“I hate hearing lies about you. I hate when people criticize you. I hate that everybody can’t see the person I love and respect, the person that I hope I someday will be like.”

I feel that Decision Points accomplishes what Jenna hoped to do in the campaign. The book does a good job of showing us the man behind the presidential desk. The man who was faced with tough decisions and did his best to make and stand behind them, stick with them as needed, or change course if necessary. It’s easy to be on the outside looking in and criticize someone. In the case of a president, many are so much more tempted to look for faults and mistakes. This book allows the reader a glimpse into the Office of the Presidency. Arranging the book into chapters focused on the most pivotal decision points he faced as president, George Bush allows us to gain insight into both the decisions he made and also the thought, counsel, and information that led to his choices. At times, we also get a peek at the emotions the president felt as a result of those decisions. While only other presidents can fully understand the privileges and burdens of the job, President Bush gives the reader the closest experience to walking a mile in his presidential shoes.

The justifications he gives for his decisions do not read like an attempt to defend himself or persuade the reader. Instead, President Bush outlines the chronology of events surrounding each decision and presents the facts (which were often unknown to the public at the time), leaving readers free to make their own judgments.  Absent in his memoir is any hint of resentment. He also steers clear of political name-calling or finger-pointing, and at times even admits fault or takes the responsibility himself.

George W. Bush was perhaps more maligned than any other American president. And the attacks were not limited to his policies or politics, they were personal. One world leader compared him to Adolf Hitler. A grieving mother of a serviceman told him, “You are as big a terrorist as Osama bin Laden.”  President Bush speaks thusly of the woman’s harsh words: “If expressing her anger helped ease her pain, that was fine with me.”  Just as he stood quietly and took that angry verbal lashing, he endured all kinds of personal assaults on top of an already burdensome and taxing eight years in office. He did not have the option of walking away, withholding judgment, or passing the buck. A president’s job never ends, and as Bush’s time in the White House drew to a close, adversity never lessened. His final months were just as tough as his first year in office. So, if in writing his book he were to show bitterness or ask for a little pity, one certainly couldn’t fault him. However, he never did so while in office, and he did not do so in his book. As he says, “I didn’t feel sorry for myself. . . Self-pity is a pathetic quality in a leader.” Although his family, especially his daughters, couldn’t help but take the harsh criticisms against him and his character to heart, Bush never personalized the attacks, nor did he allow public opinion or political posturing to steer his decision-making or exert undue force on his actions.

Decision Points is not a strict biography. Though in the early pages he talks about his family and his career leading up to the presidency, its main focus is on Bush’s eight years in the White House. Because of its conversational tone, the book is very readable and accessible. Several things stood out for me:

  • Bush’s love for his family – his parents, brothers and sister, Laura, and the twins.

Bush is at his most candid when speaking about family.  He freely shares letters from his father and daughter, as well as private moments like the death of his sister Robin and driving his mother to the hospital after a miscarriage.

  • Moments of humor:

In 1993, while  running the Houston Marathon, Bush passed his parents’ church just as the service let out. As their son went by, his father cried encouragingly, “That’s my boy!”  His mother, on the other hand, shouted, “Keep moving, George! There are some fat people ahead of you!”

When visiting the Queen of England, President Bush asked about her dogs. The corgis, who were soon brought out, were polite and well-behaved. He immediately worried about the potential reciprocal meeting in America and the requisite canine introduction there. He silently hoped that Barney would be just as well-mannered and “would not bark for Scottish independence.”

  • The humanity of George Bush:

The chapter titled Lazarus Effect was one of the easiest and most rewarding in the book. Here, Bush chronicles and explains his decisions that increased America’s contributions in the global fight against AIDS from the previous administration’s $500 million a year to eventually $15 billion over the period from 2003 to 2008. The fight was carried to fourteen of the world’s poorest and sickest nations, twelve of which were in Africa. In 2007, Bush called on Congress to reaffirm the expiring initiative and actually doubled commitment to $30 billion over the next five years. We read about trips that George and Laura took to Africa, and learn how these experiences and humanitarian efforts shaped the futures of daughters Jenna and Barbara as well.

When President Bush made personnel changes, rather than just remove people from their duties, like generals in Iraq whose strategies were not working, he would reward their service by finding promotion for them elsewhere. Changes in staff, such as the decision not to re-nominate General Pete Pace as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, sometimes pained him. Though he sought to save his friend public criticism and humiliation, he still expressed remorse for letting him go: “I ached for Pete and his family. When I presented him with a well-deserved Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008, it only partly assuaged my regret.”

  • The emotional burden of U.S. military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan:

After he ordered the troops to Iraq, he took a private walk around the South Lawn, in silent prayer and reflection. He felt the decision was the right thing to do, but that didn’t mean it was easy. He is an emotional, compassionate man. Each morning, he would read the newspapers and the overnight reports he received from the Situation room. He refers to these reports as the “blue sheets.” One section of the blue sheet listed the number, cause, and location of American casualties in each conflict. President Bush writes about reading the reports: “When I received a blue sheet, I would circle the casualty figure with my pen, pause, and reflect on each individual loss.”  This was clearly hard on him. One way he showed his gratitude for the service of these brave individuals was to write a letter to the family of each fallen soldier. He wrote a total of over 5,000. He also met personally with about 550 families of the fallen, made numerous visits to hospitals to visit the wounded, and took a risky secret flight to Iraq in 2003, before the capture of Saddam Hussein, to spend Thanksgiving with the troops.

What the reader sees in Decision Points is a glimpse of the man his daughter Jenna loves,  respects, and admires. George W. Bush believes in serving a cause greater than himself. He is a man who did his best, facing the problems and issues dealt him, and, given the knowledge he had at hand, he acted thoughtfully and decisively in order to make what he considered to be the choices that were in the best interest of the country and/or the safety of the American people. For me, these words he spoke during the financial crisis define his guiding philosophy for decision-making during his terms as president: “We don’t have time to worry about politics. Let’s figure out the right thing to do and do it.”
— Dawn Teresa

Verdict

5 Hearts - Final

5 of 5 Hearts. A Candid, Heart-Felt, Must-Read Memoir of a President and a Man.

Political memoirs are too often dry, self-serving texts, written to present their subject in the best, though not always most truthful, light. Not so with Decision Points. President Bush’s book is an honest, intimate look at a turbulent period in American history from the perspective of the Oval Office. The reader gains insight into the hows and whys of presidential decisions, and the portrait that emerges of George W. Bush is that of a compassionate man and a decisive leader.

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