41: A Portrait of my Father by George W. Bush is unique in that a former president (43) is writing about his father (41), a former president. This is a look into history and a love story of a strong family, a dynamic admirable man, and a salute to a true American hero. It’s also not overly gushy, and does have some minor comments or criticisms that hindsight 20/20 vision does give. I, personally, was hesitant to read the book since I wasn’t overly fond of George Jr., as president. (I think he’s a decent man and is doing a lot of good work as an ex-president). I am, however, very interested in George, Sr. and excerpts of the book intrigued me.
Sure enough, 41: A Portrait of My Father is well written and has plenty of “Wow, I didn’t know that moments.” George H.W. Bush was born into privilege but never overly took advantage of it. Graduated from high school, he volunteered to join the Navy in WWII and was the youngest torpedo bomber pilot. He returned home to marry Barbara Pierce, graduate from Yale, and then turning down lucrative Wall Street offers, headed west to Midland Texas to make a name for himself. After much success, he moved on to public service. There he encountered defeats, successes, and a long career in politics, diplomatic service to China, CIA director, and Vice President under Ronald Reagan. Then he earned his own presidency in 1988. In one term, he oversaw the end of the Cold War, oversaw liberation of Panama and Kuwait, and guided the country through some tough economic times. Tax decisions cost him another term, but probably set the path for Bill Clinton’s economic successes.
The key to the book is the man behind the accomplishments. George Sr. kept old friends, made new friends, shook hands across the aisle, wrote personal letters, stayed true to commitments and loyalty, valued America but was interested in the world, and is flat out a decent man with an excellent sense of humor. That is what shines through this book. He took pride in family and gave steady support to his wife and kids. From the cover – George H.W. Bush is one of the most beloved statesmen of the twenty first century. 41 is a stirring tribute to an inspiring father and great American.
I highly recommend this book for a glimpse into history and the Bush family. It’s a quick smooth read, and a powerful portrait of George H.W. Bush (forever 41). He’s now 90 + and in frail health, but still took his parachute jump in 2014. After finishing the book, you shall root for that jump at 95 and 100.