Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Year of the Biography

So I'm trying to do a lot more biographical reading this year.  In addition to the books we, as a church staff, read and any others I might pick up along the way, I hope to get through some major pieces of literature about people in days of yore.

Because I'm sticking this out there, I'll also try to post a couple of reflections from the biographies I finish.  I'll start with George W. Bush's Decision Points.  Yes, I know that it's not a biography (technically) and certainly not from days of yore.  But it was a Christmas gift and I wanted to read it.

Bush structured the book around his major decisions while in his presidency.  I found it incredibly fascinating to get into his brain a little bit and hear it from his perspective.  Helpfully, he also provided some background information if it informed his decision making.  He covered the biggies:  9/11, Katrina, Iraq, Afghanistan, and TARP.  There were others too but those are the ones I remember.

As is true with most presidential memoirs, he told it in a way that made him look good.  I don't blame him.  Leadership is hard and you do the best you can.  Not everything can be proactive and sometimes the best thing to do is react.  I will say that I voted for him twice, so I'm disposed toward him generally.  He came across as genuine and thoughtful and wise in seeking counsel.  He was principled throughout, even when I disagreed with his principles (like on the handling of TARP).

I also note that, much like every other leader you can think of, he got more blame than he deserved.  I was flabbergasted at some of the discussion around Katrina and how much a bureaucratic mess it was between the governor and mayor, and how they didn't ask for federal help until it was way too late.

He has funny moments like when he asked then Chief of Staff Josh Bolton if Bono was the guy who was married to Cher.  I laughed.  Out loud.  Pick up the book and you'll enjoy it.  I'm off to read George Marsden's tome on Jonathan Edwards.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

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