Decision Points

by George W. Bush

Hardcover, 2010



Decision points is the memoir of America's 43rd president. George W. Bush offers a candid journey through the defining decisions of his life while writing about his flaws and mistakes, as well as his accomplishments.


(346 ratings; 3.7)

Media reviews

Decision Points holds the same relation to George W. Bush as a line of fashion accessories or a perfume does to the movie star that bears its name; he no doubt served in some advisory capacity. (...) Decision Points flaunts its postmodernity by blurring the distinction between fiction and non-fiction. That is to say, the parts that are not outright lies are the sunnier halves of half-truths.
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A pugnacious determination to be taken seriously is about half an inch below the surface of “Decision Points.” It’s poignant that even as a former two-term president, Bush should feel the need to strut the way he does. The book is full of maxims and advice. “I prided myself on my ability to make crisp and effective decisions,” Bush reveals.
Det skulle överraska om framtida historiker rekommenderade USA:s avgående presidenter att använda Bushs memoarbok som förebild för sina hågkomster.
Here is a prediction: “Decision Points” will not endure. Its prose aims for tough-minded simplicity but keeps landing on simpleminded sententiousness. Though Bush credits no collaborator, his memoirs read as if they were written by an admiring sidekick who is familiar with every story Bush ever told but never got to know the President well enough to convey his inner life. Very few of its four hundred and ninety-three pages are not self-serving.
Bush erkänner ett och annat misstag i boken, men han undviker att ta ansvar för sina mest kontroversiella handlingar. Utan några detaljerade argument försvarar han beslutet att använda vattentortyr under förhören av terroristmisstänkta.
The substance of Decision Points will come as little surprise to students of the second President Bush. Organized in a series of tightly argued, discrete chapters on strategic crossroads in his presidency—the decision to run, to supplant the Taliban and overthrow Saddam Hussein, to establish policy on stem cell research, to contend with Hurricane Katrina, and so on—it bears the hallmark of our first commander in chief with an MBA. However the book was produced, and I am assuming that it was assembled in the manner of presidential memoirs since Dwight Eisenhower, it successfully conveys what we know of the quality and character of George W. Bush, and the sound of his voice. Bush is neither omnipotent nor especially defensive in tone; he admits to mistakes and misgivings, and acknowledges regret and uncertainty. He is careful to explain the principles that informed his actions, and describe the options and dissenting arguments as he reached those decisions. He is, to adapt a famous phrase, fair and balanced. . . .

It’s too early, by far, to render any meaningful verdict on the Bush presidency. The war on terror is far from won, and his foreign and domestic initiatives—Social Security reform, cultivation of India, the No Child Left Behind Act—remain on the nation’s agenda. But just as his successor’s travails—or, for that matter, Barack Obama’s adoption of Bush’s national security strategy—may be seen as vindication in political terms, it may also be argued, after examining the evidence of Decision Points, that George W. Bush’s presidency was an important presidency, and that Bush, like Truman, rose to the challenge.
In Decision Points, Mr. Bush covers Hurricane Katrina, expanding Medicare coverage to prescription drugs, the failure of Social Security reform, Harriet Miers's Supreme Court nomination and much else. . . . But 50 years from now only specialists will be sifting the archives on Katrina, earmarks and the rest. As Mr. Bush himself says in this interesting, and at times frustrating, account of his tenure: "Through the lens of the post 9/11 world, my view changed.". . .

As the U.S. went to war, Mr. Bush's feisty, determined pursuit of his policies elicited an almost neurotic, personal antipathy among his opponents. At two moments in the biggest crises of his presidency—the war and the 2008 financial crisis—Mr. Bush, I think unintentionally, offers an insight into the mind of what he would call "the man himself." . . .

Commitment and clarity of commitment were Bush virtues. The downside of being "all in," however, is that much can be lost before the need for a course correction becomes too obvious to ignore. What emerges across the pages of "Decision Points" is a president who at times let his strong code of personal loyalty and commitment cloud his decision-making. . . .

The book contains delightful and telling personal observations. . . . In contrast to the ugly cartoon figure drawn by his opponents, Mr. Bush is unfailingly gracious to virtually all his opponents, including Cindy Sheehan, the antiwar activist who had lost a son in Iraq.

More than most presidents, George W. Bush belongs to history. History will judge him almost solely by what he did after a single historic day, Sept. 11, 2001—in short, by the war on terror and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. If in time they succeed, he was a good president. If they fail, his presidency falls. For everyone's sake, one should hope that he was a good president.
Presidents get the memoirs they deserve. In “Decision Points,” George W. Bush writes about his two terms in office much as he lived them -- somewhat offhandedly, almost as if he’s writing about someone else.

User reviews

LibraryThing member jcbrunner
"Whatever the verdict on my presidency, I’m comfortable with the fact that I won’t be around to hear it." This book's penultimate sentence exemplifies three points of George W. Bush: His unwillingness to face criticism, his inability to learn and his egocentricity. Sheltered and pampered, nobody will shatter his delusions of being a modern Abraham Lincoln (about whom he says to have read fourteen biographies during his presidency). I have read about Abraham Lincoln too and Shrub is no Lincoln. He isn't even a Nixon. His place among the worst US presidents is guaranteed. This book will soon end up in the remaindered books section and join Milosevic's and Saddam Hussein's oeuvres in the libraries.

One interesting aspect is that George W. Bush now fully embraces and is fully embraced by the Bush clan. In order to revive the tarnished family name, all internal dissent is airbrushed out of existence. The whitewash and start of project "lost cause" has started with a vengeance.

Even Jon Stewart considers it impolite to call Bush a war criminal. You see, the US doesn't torture. George W. Bush said "damn right" to enhanced interrogation to break people, whereas the actual breaking was preferentially outsourced. Many of Bush's victims were innocent, kidnapped far from any war zone (El-Masri in Macedonia, Maher Arar in NYC, ...). In relation to FRAGO 242, the Guardian wrote that "US soldiers, US advisers, were standing aside and doing nothing, while members of the Wolf Brigade beat and tortured prisoners." Nixon at least acknowledged that his actions were evil. Bush fails to show any contrition, any remorse, to feel any guilt. Only he himself feels wronged from Kanye to Putin. This makes reading this book so painful. In order to keep up his cocksure facade, Bush has to airbrush out major elements of all the stories he tells. The model for this book is less the classic presidential memoir but a dictator's vanity project. Bush ridicules Kim Jong-Il's and Saddam's pomposity he is equally guilty of. This book is similar to the Lenin and Marx memorabilia one could buy after the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe.

Apart from his two commendable personal but (inter)nationally disastrous decisions to quit drinking and running for office, Bush selected, out of the over 300 scandals and the rather limited successes of the Bush administration, the following topics as chapters for his book: VP Dick Cheney, stem cells, 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, No child left behind, Katrina, AIDS, Iraq II: the surge, Israel-Palestine-Lebanon, financial collapse. Unfortunately, his account of these issues is not complete, fair nor balanced. Any element which might reflect badly on Dear Leader is cut out of the picture. This might be sufficient for his authoritarian fans and talk show hosts. All others should wait for an annotated edition.

For those that have already forgotten the Bush years and need a refresher about some of the events not found in this book: Bush sat around on 9/11, played air guitar and shared a cake with John McCain while Katrina loomed, he joked about searching for WMD in his office and about the execution of Saddam Hussein, he started two wars, torpedoed Global Warming initiatives, he corrupted, stuffed and disabled governmental agencies, curbed civil liberties, enabled torture, and he repeatedly lied to his citizens and to the world. And he failed to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. A miserable failure indeed.
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LibraryThing member jburlinson
One of W's predecessors had this to say about the marvelous wonder of writing (and reading): "Writing - the art of communicating thoughts to the mind, through the eye - is the great invention of the world ... great, very great in enabling us to converse with the dead, the absent, and the unborn, at all distances of time and space." That was the voice of Abraham Lincoln, and W has taken those words literally; since he seems to be writing exclusively for "the dead, the absent and the unborn." Certainly anyone who happened to have been alive and present during W's tenure could not possibly be expected to take seriously what W has to say in this memoir. Saddam was actively seeking nuclear weapons? This isn't re-writing history, it's de-writing history. I am not a book burner. But if ever my house is on fire, I would not hesitate to try to put out the flames by beating them with this book.… (more)
LibraryThing member the.ken.petersen
I had two reasons for wanting to read this book; firstly, to better understand the decisions that saw a Western alliance fighting in the Middle East again, and secondly, because George Bush is portrayed as some sort of hick fool and, I did not believe that the United States would be daft enough to elect a fool.

Having read Bill Clinton's autobiography immediately before this, there is no question that Bill wins, hands down, on the literary front but, what of the 43rd President?

It is well known that the book was, if not ghost written, then heavily influenced by its editor. I wonder if the idea of starting with a personal battle was the editor's idea. Whoever came up with George's battle with the daemon alcohol, it was a bad one. The erstwhile president is not comfortable with going the whole hog and sounds po-faced as he decries his weakness. One little clue as to whether this was a fight against alcoholism comes when he declines a drink from a world leader. George is shocked at the idea of touching hard liquor before noon!

Interestingly, my points of departure from Bush-thought did not occur at the points at which I had imagined that they would: Mr. Bush puts across a strong case for the use of 'waterboarding' and, if he is telling the truth when he says that it was only used upon three occasions, each sanctioned by the President, personally, it is hard to see what else could be done. Naturally, a known al Qaeda leader is not going to hand over information because of a polite request and, accepting thousands of deaths because we did 'the decent thing', seems stupid, not moralistic. Where Mr Bush is a little less forthcoming, is over the 'ordinary' prisoners in Guantanamo. Britain is in the process of handing out millions of pounds of compensation to mistreated individuals who are such a threat, that they are now back in this country leading ordinary lives. WHY?? Innocent Muslims were, unquestionably, not simply arrested but tortured. This IS unacceptable.

When I was younger, we did not find out what our leaders had thought for thirty years. Now, the final counting of ballot papers has hardly been concluded before the self-justifying book hits the reading desk. History will, as Bush himself so rightly says, need time to form a firm opinion. Mine is that the man is certainly no fool, nor the religious bigot that some portrayed. He did some good things around the world but, I retain my belief that the President, and a lot of America, panicked when deaths occurred upon their own soil. There is all the difference in the world between sending brave lads abroad to die, and having death on one's doorstep.
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LibraryThing member kevinyezbick
Read in an effort to understand something I don't understand but didn't really learn much from this at all. It felt like I was reliving eight years I'd rather forget. The tone was defensive and dismissive - falling back on the "history will be my judge" argument that dodged responsibility during his presidency. I secretly hoped that I would walk away from this book with a deeper respect for Mr. Bush, or at least a little empathy. I have neither. In the "Personnel" chapter he goes on in quite enthusiastic detail how he surrounded himself with the best of the bunch, but continuously returns to the brink of admitting that he did not have the best information at times to make the best decisions. The brink, because he never truly accepts responsibility for anything. It reads like footnotes from the Rove bumper sticker politics. I'm truly surprised I learned nothing new about this man.… (more)
LibraryThing member dalevywasbri
"Great events and personalities are all made small when passed through the medium of this small mind." - Winston Churchill
While Churchill, when writing to Eisenhower, could not known about Bush the President, let alone the writer or Decider, I can find no better way of describing this book.

There is a terrible problem in life, we are all so damned self-forgiving. We all find ways of abridging our faults and accentuating our successes. Fortunately for us all, most of us learn this and mitigate it; George Bush wrote almost an entire book embracing it. The book is full of gosh-darnit-if-I-didn't-do-my-best moments that make you feel like you are watching a small child give it their best shot. Occasionally, when he stumbles on something and does assign some self-blame the moment is so rare and fleeting that you hardly notice it (ex. his looking into the soul of Vladimir Putin, later realizing he wasn't a great guy).

The New Yorker review also pegged the exact nature of the "Decision Points," namely that they aren't really decisions, so much as conclusions. For instance, the Chapter on Stem Cells includes the fairest, most intellectual debate of the book doesn't even have significant quotation (more than 4 lines) from either side. You are left wondering if he just opened his mouth and he said what came to the top of his brain.

The lasting opinion, the feeling that stuck with me the most, is just an overwhelming feeling that I'm looking at some piece of genius here. That, like the City of the Ladies, you need to dig deeper and you will see an achievement of true ingenuity. But then I re-read a chapter and think, "Nah."
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LibraryThing member tanya2009
This is a memoir on some of the decisions former President Bush made during his eight years in the White House. It lets the reader know the thought process that he went through to reach those decisions. I really enjoyed the book. I did not agree with every decision he made but now realize that he is a very deliberative man and that none of his decisions were made without extensive discussions with both sides on the issues. President and Mrs. Bush brought dignity to the White House and I appreciate their service to our country.… (more)
LibraryThing member Egorse
All biography is advocacy. It presents the Views of the people doing the Writing. This book is no Exception. President George Bush has written a book that is very selective in its views, but that is to be expected.

It deals with fourteen different ‘Decision Points’ Places in his life and presidency, Important or big decisions he had to make, Decision like quitting drinking (chapter 1) or How to deal with the Financial Crisis (Chapter 14.)

For the most part I think that people will judge this book not on the merits of the book itself but on their own political persuasions. Looking past the politics I found this Book to be rather boring with Only Chapter 4(stem cells) and chapter 5(day of fire) Holding my interest. When I consider how many important events happened during his time as president I would have hoped for a more interesting book. For what it is it is a good 2 Star book or a poor 3 star one.
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LibraryThing member sgtbigg
I put my name on the hold list at the library as soon as I heard this book was coming out and got it days after its release. Rather then a standard memoir, Bush discussed a number of important deisions he made throughout his life, the most important being his decision to quit drinking. Unfortunately I was disappointed in this book. It does provide a somewhat interesting look behind the scenes, but there is nothing shocking here. After I told my wife my thoughts on the book she said, "what did you expect?" Good question, I definately expected more then this. The one conclusion I came to after reading this is that George Bush did what he did because he believed it was best for the country. I can't say I agree with him, but I feel a little better knowing that. A very little.

As a side note, I was interested to see they were well over 100 5 star ratings posted on Amazon with two days of the book's release, as well as a good 25 or so one star ratings. From a quick reading it did not appear that many of the raters had read the book. But again, what did I expect.
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LibraryThing member PamelaBarrett
It doesn’t matter whether you are Republican or Democrat; you should read this book. Here are some of the reasons why: we all have tendencies to forget history, or edit it the way we remember; and we want to believe everything we see on the news. Trust me, as someone who just had a half hour interview edited down to nothing more than a sound bite you can’t believe what you hear and see—everyone has their slant. Another reason is that until we walk in someone’s shoes we can never fully understand the decisions they make. In Decision Point, former President Bush takes you back to the beginning and lets you see it through his eyes. You may not have your opinion of him change, but some aspects of his presidency are revealed in a different light. I liked his down to earth sometimes embarrassing honesty and I came away with a better understanding of him and the Presidential office. I highly recommend reading this book.… (more)
LibraryThing member bbuchan
While I'm not a huge Bush fan, this is an interesting reflection by President Bush on his perception of his life and Presidency. Though not exceptionally insightful or prosaic, Bush presents his thoughts in a straight forward and revealing way. Written thematically in a basic story telling format he alternately touches on or delves into minor and major events of his live and presidency. The book is clearly written in Bush's voice, and one comes away with a better understanding of the challenges he faced while in office. Well worth the read.… (more)
LibraryThing member SteveRambach
I am not a George W Bush fan. However, reading this book gives a unique perspective from one who made the decisions. I found the book interactive because the President had his points of views and I had mine and I told him what I thought as I read his book.
LibraryThing member katiekrug
Interesting explication of Bush's presidency and key decisions made during it. After all the sturm und drang of his two terms, I enjoyed this straight forward and somewhat self-deprecating take from his perspective. Full disclosure - I worked in Bush's White House from April 2001 to July 2005 in the Correspondence office.
LibraryThing member khiemstra631
I found this book pleasantly surprisingly. George W. Bush writes very well, and he has an excellent sense of humor that includes an ability to laugh at himself. Rather than doing a straight chronological review of his presidency, he focused on major events that occurred and covered them. This leads to some overlaps in the years covered and also some omissions of events that others might have considered important. It also makes for a much more interesting read than it might have otherwise. I did feel a little bogged down in the chapters about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but I do not really see how the material could have been omitted without lessening the credibility of the book. It's a long book, 481 pages, and what says the most about it is that I read it in five days. I had it on ten-day loan from the library but had no problem reading it in less time. It was just that interesting. Good job, Mr. President!… (more)
LibraryThing member gmicksmith
This is a very easy read and concentrates on Bush's decision making process rather than on a self-servicing defense of his reign or a comprehensive, chronological account of his two terms.
LibraryThing member zhoud2005
An interesting account from the inside of those historical events.
LibraryThing member jostalli
Decision Points is not your typical presidential autobiography that gives a minute by minute detail of a life of a president. President Bush provides just enough information on his formative years, early adult life, and his years as the Governor of Texas to provide a good foundation of who George W. Bush is. But the bulk of the book focuses on the details of what President Bush considers the major decisions of his presidency.

We learn about the issue, the information that was available at the time, what others were thinking, and why he chose the path he took. He then takes an honest look back as he details the success or failure of his choice. The book also shows how he negotiated the political landscape to accomplish his goals (Sometimes successfully and other times not). A great example is at the end of the book when he explains his decision to support the TARP and bank bailout programs. These were two programs he was philosophically opposed too. But in the end, he believed it was the best choice to limit the US financial collapse. I guess time will only tell if he was right.
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LibraryThing member SigmundFraud
Disappointing but not without some merit. It is clear from this work that Bush has "heart". There are touching moments. It is also clear that Bush was in charge despite the liberal press rants that Cheney was in charge. More bias of the MSM.
LibraryThing member sergerca
Love him or hate him, George Bush is an honest man who believed whole heartedly in the decisions he made. I really enjoyed the thought process he went through for both the decisions he had to make while holding his nose (e.g. TARP) as well those that were very unpopular but were later vindicated (e.g. stem cells, the Surge). As another reviewer said, the idea that Bush was not in charge and Rove and Cheney were is ridiculous. Good book. Good man. He wasn't always right, but I miss him.… (more)
LibraryThing member Venqat65
I started off really enjoying this book. Bush seemed to be letting us into his life through his thoughts and memories of events. I thoroughly enjoyed the first several chapters. That section of the book largely involved life in Midland, TX--a place that was once my home as well. The early years seemed to be described quite genuinely and I felt moved by the strong faith of the former president.
There was a shift in the story-telling at some point, however. The more and more that I read involving Bush's years in office, the more and more I felt like Bush was trying to merely prove a point about each and every one of his decisions: "I was right--and someday everyone will know it and my reputation will be vindicated."
That got old.
I read on and on, hoping for more stories like the first ones, but it seemed like all the rest of the book was just Bush trying to prove his point.
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LibraryThing member TooBusyReading
Full disclosure – I have never been a Bush fan. Nevertheless, I wanted to read what this president had to say about his presidency, about the reasons behind his decisions, his decision points. Surprise! I liked this book more than I expected. Unlike some readers, I didn't find it boring; it interested me throughout. Well, maybe a little bored in a couple of places. There was even a bit of humor in it, especially when Bush quoted his acerbic mother.

Some of his decision points seemed more to me like hindsight rationalizations and excuses, and I know that is somewhat colored by my political outlook. I don't think I would have liked Bush much if I had been a college student with him. He seemed like the quintessential heavy-drinking, self-absorbed party boy. Fortunately, he did give up drinking and started trying to live by the morality of his religion.

Autobiographers generally make themselves shine in the brightest light, and Bush is no exception. However, I like that he did admit to mistakes, especially after Hurricane Katrina. There was plenty of blame to go around, and he did make sure that blame was spread, but he also said he did things wrong, or more importantly, failed to do them when he should have. He was quite hurt by criticism that his reaction to Katrina was racially motivated. I agree with him on that one, even though there are many who don't. I think his reactions would have been just as poor if more whites instead of blacks had been in the worst-hit areas. Ineptitude is not the same as bigotry.

He had lots of help writing this book, and the result is an interesting and informative book that I took with a couple of grains of salt. I still disagree with him on many of his political stands but I appreciated this look at why he made them.
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LibraryThing member jeffsdfw
Never have I read an auto about a president that had the line " I usually get a kiss before someone f's me". Too bad he has quit drinking. I would love to have a beer with dubya.
LibraryThing member jmcclain19
One of the salient points in Bush's memoir, is how he believes that it is too soon to judge his White House legacy. He makes the statement that some day in the future, Arab people through the middle east will look to what happened in Afghanistan and Iraq and decide to stand up to the tyranny in their own countries and demand to be a free people. It was an interesting point when I read this around Christmas of 2010. As I sit in the spring of 2011, tuning into the news shows through the Arab world how Bush's prediction is coming true in a new country each day. A time frame that I doubt he would have he would have imagined even on his best day.
The book is written with Bush's sense of humor peppered throughout the pages. He's quick to point out his failures and staunchly defend his victories. An excellent book that leaves me wanting to hear more from his side of the story.
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LibraryThing member mullinator52
This is written in a comfortable and casual style of reading. It is like sitting in a room with him and hearing him talk.. like a friendly tv interview. The biographical part is wonderful. The rest of the book is not chronological but rather broken up into sections of major decisions.. hence the title. The first half of the book is interesting reading but the last part starts to ramble. It was interesting to read he thought processes that led to his major decisions.… (more)
LibraryThing member parapreacher
Excellent book on the presidency of George W. Bush! While not agreeing with all of his decisions, he presents a pretty fair assessment of how some of the most important decisions were made. I really wanted to know more about his earlier years but, in retrospect, think he wisely focused on the crucial areas of his administration. Kind treatment of other world leaders - even our sometime enemies.… (more)
LibraryThing member HistoryNutToo
I enjoyed reading this book.Could have been more detailed but thats what other books are for,to keep on reading.


Crown (2010), 512 pages

Original publication date





0307590615 / 9780307590619


Original language

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