Decision Points

Decision Points

by George W. Bush


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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In this candid and gripping memoir, 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 counterterrorism 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307590633
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 10/18/2011
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 181,977
Product dimensions: 7.96(w) x 5.28(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

George W. Bush is the 43rd President of the United States, serving from 2001 to 2009. He previously served as Governor of Texas. He and his wife, Laura, now live in Dallas, where they founded the George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University. President Bush is also the author of three #1 bestsellers: Decision Points, his presidential memoir; 41, a biography of his father, President George H. W. Bush; and Portraits of Courage, a collection of oil paintings and stories honoring the sacrifice and courage of America’s military veterans.

Read an Excerpt

Excerpted from Decision Points Copyright © 2010 by George W. Bush
Years from now, historians may look back and see the surge as a forgone conclusion, an inevitable bridge between the years of violence that followed liberation and the democracy that emerged. Nothing about the surge felt inevitable at the time. Public opinion ran strongly against it. Congress tried to block it. The enemy fought relentlessly to break our will.
Yet thanks to the skill and courage of our troops, the new counterinsurgency strategy we adopted, the superb coordination between our civilian and military efforts, and the strong support we provided for Iraq’s political leaders, a war widely written off as a failure has a chance to end in success. By the time I left office, the violence had declined dramatically. Economic and political activity had resumed. Al Qaeda had suffered a significant military and ideological defeat. In March 2010, Iraqis went to the polls again. In a headline unimaginable three years earlier, Newsweek ran a cover story titled “Victory at Last: The Emergence of a Democratic Iraq.”
Iraq still faces challenges, and no one can know with certainty what the fate of the country will be. But we do know this: Because the United States liberated Iraq and then refused to abandon it, the people of that country have a chance to be free. Having come this far, I hope America will continue to support Iraq’s young democracy. If Iraqis request a continued troop presence, we should provide it. A free and peaceful Iraq is in our vital strategic interest. It can be a valuable ally at the heart of the Middle East, a source of stability in the region, and a beacon of hope to political reformers in its neighborhood and around the world. Like the democracies we helped build in Germany, Japan, and South Korea, a free Iraq will make us safer for generations to come.
I have often reflected on whether I should have ordered the surge earlier. For three years, our premise in Iraq was that political progress was the measure of success. The Iraqis hit all their milestones on time. It looked like our strategy was working. Only after the sectarian violence erupted in 2006 did it become clear that more security was needed before political progress could continue. After that, I moved forward with the surge in a way that unified our government. If I had acted sooner it could have created a rift that would have been exploited by war critics in Congress to cut off funding and prevent the surge from succeeding.
From the beginning of the war in Iraq, my conviction was that freedom is universal—and democracy in the Middle East would make the region more peaceful. There were times when that seemed unlikely. But I never lost faith that it was true.
Financial Crisis
“Mr. President, we are witnessing a financial panic.”
Those were troubling words coming from Ben Bernanke, the mild-mannered chairman of the Federal Reserve, who was seated across from me in the Roosevelt Room. Over the previous two weeks, the government had seized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two giant housing entities. Lehman Brothers had filed the largest bankruptcy in American history. Merrill Lynch had been sold under duress. The Fed had granted an $85 billion loan to save AIG. Now Wachovia and Washington Mutual were teetering on the brink of collapse.
With so much turbulence in financial institutions, credit markets had seized up. Consumers couldn’t get loans for homes or cars. Small businesses couldn’t borrow to finance their operations. The stock market had taken its steepest plunge since the first day of trading after 9/11.
As we sat beneath the oil painting of Teddy Roosevelt charging on horseback, we all knew America was facing its most dire economic challenge in decades.
I turned to the Rough Rider of my financial team, Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson, a natural leader with decades of experience in international finance.
“The situation is extraordinarily serious,” Hank said.
He and the team briefed me on three measures to stem the crisis. First, the Treasury would guarantee all $3.5 trillion in money market mutual funds, which were facing depositor runs. Second, the Fed would launch a program to unfreeze the market for commercial paper, a key source of financing for businesses across the country. Third, the Securities and Exchange Commission would issue a rule temporarily preventing the short-selling of financial stocks.
“These are dramatic steps,” Hank said, “but America’s financial system is at stake.”
He outlined an even bolder proposal. “We need broad authority to buy mortgage-backed securities,” he said. Those complex financial assets had lost value when the housing bubble burst, imperiling the balance sheets of financial firms around the world. Hank recommended that we ask Congress for hundreds of billions to buy up these toxic assets and restore confidence in the banking system.
“Is this the worst crisis since the Great Depression?” I asked.
“Yes,” Ben replied. “In terms of the financial system, we have not seen anything like this since the 1930s, and it could get worse.”
His answer clarified the decision I faced: Did I want to be the president overseeing an economic calamity that could be worse than the Great Depression?
I was furious the situation had reached this point. A relatively small group of people—many on Wall Street, some not—had gambled that the housing market would keep booming forever. It didn’t. In a normal environment, the free market would render its judgment and they could fail. I would have been happy to let them do so.
But this was not a normal environment. The market had ceased to function. And as Ben had explained, the consequences of inaction would be catastrophic. As unfair as it was to use the American people’s money to prevent a collapse for which they weren’t responsible, it would be even more unfair to do nothing and leave them to suffer the consequences.
“Get to work,” I said, approving Hank’s plan in full. “We are going to solve this.”
I adjourned the meeting and walked across the hallway to the Oval Office. Josh Bolten, Counselor Ed Gillespie, and Dana Perino, my talented and effective press secretary, followed me in. Ben’s historical comparison was still echoing in my mind.
“If we’re really looking at another Great Depression,” I said, “you can be damn sure I’m going to be Roosevelt, not Hoover.”

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Decision Points 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5456 reviews.
DarthDregan More than 1 year ago
Upon leaving office I though I knew everything about Bush. I had my mind made up that he was a mediocre president that made a lot of deicsions that weren't good for America. Upon reading this book, and getting an indepth look at the man and his approach to decision making, life and defending our country, I have to say I have a whole new perspective of the man. After reading this, I fully understand that every decision he made was what he honestly felt was best for the country, even keeping Dick Cheney as Veep, and honestly knowing some inside details, I probably would have made all of these decisions just like he did. After reading this, I honestly hope history will take a kinder view of him, because I sure as heck am. As for mechanics, it was a smooth read. It was researched and written well. The approach was thoroughly original for a presidential account and it wasn't a book where I was left wondering if this guy was really so full of himself. Decision points was classy, he didn't Obama bash, or Clinton bash, or place blame for anyone else. It was inspirational, stimulating, and absorbing; I wanted to read the next page, then just one more page, and on until the book was done.... and then I wanted more. Most of all, it was enlightening, it was a game changer and a book that everyone could and should read, especially those like me who didn't necessarily agree with a lot of the decisions he made.
KL_in_Hudson More than 1 year ago
I have almost finished Decision Points, and find it well-written and engaging. The complexity of the issues which defined this administration -- and the agonizing care with which they were approached -- make for a fascinating read and some "aha" moments. President Bush's book is detailed and candid, and provides a fascinating peek into the operation of a presidency. I highly recommend it.
TeacherofJustice More than 1 year ago
I have never been a fan of President George W. Bush, however, after seeing the interviews conducted with him in regards to this book, I was interested enough to make the purchase. It has turned out to be a pleasantly surprising read and I recommend it to everyone. Regardless of your political loyalty, this book sheds a human and intelligent light on President Bush that most of us claimed to have never seen. The book does jump around a bit from topic to topic, but he warns of things not being in any real chronological order, but as he recalls it from his days leading up to, during and post-White House. Did not care for President Bush as the leader of our Country, but he has proven to be a decent, honorable and respectable man in this book that made real efforts to do the right thing even in the face of adversity. I have enjoyed reading it on my new Nook Color also, the pictures show beautifully and with great detail. May be kinda hard to get an autograph if the opportunity ever presents itself!
ChanFan More than 1 year ago
This was my first presidential autobiography to read. With all the vitriol being spewed about this man, I wanted to read for myself what our former president had to say about many of the issues and challenges that he faced, and the reasoning behind the decisions to counter those challenges. President Bush's sense of humor comes through in these pages. His leadership comes through even more so. Never before, at least in recent history, has America faced such challenges, both nationally and internationally. Without a doubt, Bush (43), made the best decisions with the information he had and stuck by his guns. He made the tough calls when they needed to be made. That's leadership. I highly recommend this book. I especially recommend this book to all you folks out there who actually believe what you're being told every night on the nightly news.
Cougarjax More than 1 year ago
This book is not about self aggrandizement. There is very little effort made to rewrite history, as one may suspect. Over the years, Pres. Bush has been accused of being obtuse. This book corrects that perception. It's interesting to see our country from his perspective. Agree or disagree I at least know why. I enjoyed this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is truly a wonderful read and fully explains many of the toughest decisions that Bush had to make during his presidency. He is such a noble, good person and you can see by reading this book that every move he made, he made in the interest of the American poeple. He loves this country and this can be seen all through the book. He is an amazing person with a very interesting life. The book help me understand why he made the decisions that he did and acutally changerd my views on him 100% for the better. What a great and honorable person!
toodles9 More than 1 year ago
Showing much class in not Obama bashing or spilling dirt on anyone else, he really is a class act. I especially like his Christian convictions and ethical principles shown in his book and life.
RichAZ More than 1 year ago
President Bush openly and honestly lays out what most would find difficult to say - our personal fallings. But without failure we don't always become better. Learning from mistakes creates character. Here in only the first few pages the President shares his character. I was taken by the last paragraph on page 6 where he writes: "Robins death made me sad, too, in a seven-year old way. I was sad to lose my sister and future playmate. I was sad because I saw my parents hurting so much. It would be many years before I could understand the difference between my sorrow and the wrenching pain my parents felt from losing their daughter".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book comes across as a very honest and candid view of himself and his presidency that some will find very different from the negative impression of President Bush that is ingrained in so many people's minds. President Bush draws you in from the very beginning and I found it very hard to put down. I purchased both the Audio, as well as the eBook so I could listen while working out, and I found that the audio book leaves much out. I don't know if that is standard practice with audio books, but it is in this case- not the big items, but just little details that fill in points. I don't know if this ranks up there with Reagan's pre-presidential radio addresses as far as getting a much different perspective of the man that is so different from popular opinion, but I believe that it has that potential. I recommend reading this book. His audio book would be so much richer if he had put everything into it that is in the writen text.
katie2 More than 1 year ago
I felt like I was hearing the President speaking in person. You will see him as very real and transparent. How refreshing to read something like this book. What a different perspective from the media's point of view. George Bush will be considered a good president in future history books. Katie2
DrRob More than 1 year ago
This book is authored in true W. fashion. He is self depreciating, but with a measure of the "Texas Swagger" that this President was known for. Mr. Bush shines light on many of his decisions, which the media failed to do then and certainly won't raise themselves to do now. George Bush admits to being flawed, is gracious to his political adversaries, and he clearly explains the processes by which he governed. Though many on the farther ends of the political spectrum may still despise him, I feel confident that history will see George Bush as the right leader for a time when America needed a true helmsman more than ever. Thank you, Mr. Bush, for a great book and an even better example of what a President, a leader, and a moral man should be.
chVA More than 1 year ago
This was and is an amazing human being. His display of honor and class is unparalleled. History will truly add President Bush to a very short list of great american heros. A must read.
loboe More than 1 year ago
I have always admired President Bush (and his father) so I am glad to see his new book.
geishagirl2009 More than 1 year ago
Was not a fan of Bush but after seeing his interview on Oprah became interested in what he had to say about his life and the "why's" of some of the decisions he made during his term in office. I came away with a new respect for him. He has lived a very privileged life. I still don't think he was one of the most caring Presidents we've had but I do think he tried and wasn't as bad of a person as I thought he was. The right decisions at the right times got him where he wanted to be. He sought extensive council before he made decisions. He is an educated, intelligent man. Not ignorant or stupid as he was portrayed in the media. He appeared to be driven to follow in his father's footsteps his entire life. Little did he know he would be faced with some of the most tragic events in the modern day history of this country. I recommend reading this book because it's a biography of his life, and let's us see how and why he made some of the decisions that are still affecting us today.
Jeaninee More than 1 year ago
George W. Bush reveals and probably makes up for everything that he never said or mentioned when he was in office as the President of the United States. He gives readers an inside look into what he had to experience and the environment in which he was forced to make decisions according to. Personally, i really did enjoy this book. He was honest and i could almost feel like i was talking to a good friend or someone very dear to me. He presented everything in such a manner that you closed the book with a better understanding of the reasons as to why certain actions were carried out such as the war on iraq and the katrina hurricane aftermath. Though Bush did acknowledge the fact that he was the face for criticism, he handled it all in a professional manner, always relying on God to follow through for him, as we all should. All in all, this book was a great read and did in fact inspire me to put myself in people's shoes before i open my mouth. very inspiring, all in all.
Shatman More than 1 year ago
This book was great in that it showed a man willing to admit to some of his mistakes and willing to take the hit. It also informs on facts not told by a bias media that was too afriad to give him credit for things that had to be done. He has told his story without putting anyone under the bus. I respect this man even more then before. This is a must read for the person who really wants to know the man's achievements and the hard decisions that were made at a very sad point in our history. It is no doubt that once history is looked at, he will be one of our strongest leaders. It also shares his love of God, family, country and close friends.
Lane2010 More than 1 year ago
This is by far one of the Greatest Books ever written. The Audio Book is even more amazing as it is read by President Bush. Hopefully this will let not only this Generation but Generations to come know the Real Story on 911, an inside to the amazing character, genuine Christian persona, of George & Laura Bush. Only after 1/2 the Audio, I have smiled, cried, & felt the Patriotic emotions all Americans feel. God Bless America & George W. Bush! A Must Read for all Americans. (Esp. our History Teachers.)
rlabrash More than 1 year ago
It was refreshing to get President Bush's carefully worded opinion of the events before and during his presidency in an unassuming and unpretentious manner. The president was witty, charming, and convincingly danced to his own cadence. He openly and humbly admitted his shortcomings, and acknowledged his successes without depicting a condescending or arrogant tone. He clearly respects the office of the president. His love for family shines through resoundingly. One of the best reads I've enjoyed this year!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wasn't his biggest fan while he was President but after reading this book his stock has soared with me. A good and decent man but not a perfect one. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in finding out what his presidency was really about and not what you were spoon fed by the media.
gr8tfulmom More than 1 year ago
I have been reading the book and experiencing many "aha" moments as we finally get answers to so many questions !! I have so much respect and appreciation for this man ... he LOVES AMERICA and all his decisions were based on that !!!
Stephanie Schalk More than 1 year ago
I can't put into words the respect and appreciation I have for George W. after reading this. Getting insight into his everyday life as president and the facts behind major issues and decisions he made as a leader is inspiring. Whether you love him or hate him, I can't imagine anyone finishing this book and not having respect a great man. Kudos George!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this book, it answered many questions I had that were unanswered! I always liked President Bush and give him many kudos for his strength and courage he had and his belief system he had for our country!
madenthesouth More than 1 year ago
Mr. Bush made tough calls and tells about with conviction and emotion. I bought the Nook sample, read the 77 free pages, and immediately had to purchase. Honestly, when I downloaded the sample, I didnt expect to enjoy it. However, Mr. Bush proves he is a great writer... but what else should I have expected from a Harvard and Yale graduate that spent many years working with folks from all walks of life. Read it.. you can't help but like him, even if you didnt agree with some of his politics.
Strategery More than 1 year ago
Highly recommend this book to all my friends and family.
Kiupi More than 1 year ago
He made it happen: 41 and 42 became friends. And Mother told him. "your dad [41] is with your stepbrother [Bill Clinton]. My view of the office of the President of the US will never be the same because of Decision Points. I, with great respect, see how the author, a man of character, resolution, discipline, confidence, and ethics, decided to write a document for history on day one after leaving Office. This was my first presidential autobiography to read. With humor and technical writing skills, the book sheds a human and intelligent light on George W. Bush that he media deliberately worked to overshadow. This memoir is a very well documented and edited book. I only expected a chronological document with facts to inform me. However, the reading is entertaining and no abuse of adjectives to make the author look 'grandiose'. Subjective, as any memoir, but fairly so. As of content, Foreign Affairs has a new meaning for me. President Bush did a diligent diplomatic work for eight consecutive years. He not only read a lot about fellow government leaders and the countries they represented prior to meeting them, but also care for their personal lives. He made no personal assumptions before meeting them personally; he used to host them with warmth and decency. Carefully elaborated and conclusive, the chapter of Katrina struck me. I read it despite the fact that I had made my mind to skip it thinking nobody would convince me of his great mistake with the people of LA. I’m glad I did read the chapter in its entirety. This man of ethics abstained from violating governor Blanco’s right to refuse federal help. However, he admitted to not few failures in this and, to some extent, in every decision that as a president he made. Rread this book regardless of your political philosophy. Great book!