President George W. Bush's "Decision Points" is organized, not chronologically, but rather around major decisions he made during his presidency. His time in office was an eventful time in American history and he was pressed to make many historical decisions. In each chapter he describes the issue, how he explored various responses, how he came to a decision, and the aftermath of that decision.
Some of the events, like those associated with 9/11 are quite familiar to all of us. However, walking with him through the process of dealing with the crisis is interesting. One thing that comes to mind is that he was working "in the moment" and not "after the fact." It's interesting to note that some who become quite critical of him about things are on board with him during the crisis. Later, they have selective memories, but "in the moment" there was a great deal of agreement.
His chapter on stem cell research takes us through his research on the topic and through conversations he had with numerous people on various sides of the issue. He walks a road in which he's sure to make some unhappy. I was surprised at all the books he read on the topic, becoming very knowledgeable before playing King Solomon in coming to a decision.
He also comes across as a person willing to take "hits" when standing firm on principle. During Katrina he refuses to create a Constitutional crisis by overriding states rights. Likely, he goes too far in that, and then finds a man with a real solution, allowing the Federal government to take over despite a stubborn governor.
The run up to Iraq is the longest part of the book. Frankly, after many pages of his descriptions of reports from intelligence agencies, conversations with other world leaders, and descriptions of various political forces in play I yielded to temptation and stopped reading and resorted to scanning.
Near the end of the book there's information on the financial crisis. It's not easy reading, with lots of finance being described. He reluctantly involves the government at unprecedented levels and ends up helping Wall Street even though he's furious with those there who have created the crisis in the first place. He concludes that if the government doesn't help them that it's the average person who will suffer the most.
Everything he says about his successor has a gentlemanly feel about it. There's an underlying feeling that he could say more but, as he did with Katrina, prefers to take a few hits rather than do less than what he feels is the right thing.
There's a real spiritual dimension to this book. Bush openly and humbly describes his problems with alcohol and his spiritual journey. At times his book feels more religious than anything else. At other times he flows in and out of the spiritual elements of his life in natural and convincing ways.
Reading this book is a real commitment: nearly 500 pages. Some of it is slow reading because of all the facts being described, layer upon layer. However, most of it is easy reading with lots of little bits of history and "insider" information.
If you hate Bush, obviously, don't read this book.
If you like Bush, you'll love the book.
If you like history, especially Presidential history, this is a must read.
If you want to sharpen your leadership skills - this is a good study.