The Perfect Wife: The Life and Choices of Laura Bush
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The Perfect Wife: The Life and Choices of Laura Bush

3.33 of 5 stars 3.33  ·  rating details  ·  208 ratings  ·  43 reviews
The intimate and critically acclaimed biography of the much-admired First Lady -- now in paperback with a new post-election Afterword by the author -- The Perfect Wife tells the complete story of Laura Welch Bush. From Mrs. Bush's upbringing in West Texas to her whirlwind romance with George W. Bush to the Governor's mansion to her roles as mother, Bush family member, Firs...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published April 8th 2005 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2004)
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Most of you know that I adore American Wife and it made me want to read more about Laura Bush. Mind you, my political views are the exact opposite of her husband. American Wife had given me hope that even though Laura is married to a man I despise that she may have some good and fun in her. While, I do think she does think a lot more liberally than her husband, this book made me mad at her and her "choices" she has made in her life.

Ann Gerhart was assigned to cover the first lady by The Washing...more
Miss Leacock
I read this as a result of reading Curtis Sittenfeld's novel American Wife. I wanted to see how much of what Sittenfeld included about Laura Bush had merit; as I found out, much of it did. George Bush used to be a heavy drinker (I don't think I knew that before I read the novel; you can say I'm a bit ignorant); the boy she accidentally killed when she was 17 may have been some kind of boyfriend. This is a fairly quick read (I did skim a few pages) and included the more important details of her l...more
Very well written and a surprisingly interesting read for this Centrist gal.
The Perfect Wife was fascinating, but ultimately insubstantial. It would have benefitted from a longer lens; for example had Ann Gerhart waited until the second term. Of course who could have foreseen that he would have a second term? But, would that have mattered? Publishing the book after he was out of office in order to have a more complete picture -- complete with interviews specific to the project?

In the end, I've come away from The Perfect Wife and American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfield, wit...more
Got curious about the real Laura Bush after reading American Wife but this book isn't doing much to fill in the gaps. It's well written and a breezy read, but most of it has consisted of repeated exclamations about what a private person Laura Bush is, how little anyone from the outside knows about her, and how much being in the limelight sucks for someone like that. That doesn't leave room for much substance in this book, although the chapter on the twins is pretty scathing. I'm about to get to...more
Jan 12, 2008 Caroline rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Stepford wives looking for legitimation
**recommendation: get this book from your library, don't buy it!**

Ann Gerhart is a journalist who wrote a book about her "beat": Laura Welch Bush. An interesting lady, our Laura. She's an avid reader, a determined cheerleader (but never a lobbyist) for education reform, and she approaches homemaking as an art form, even in the White House. In other words, she's that nice girl we knew in college whose boyfriends we never really liked, but whose kindness and strong sense of self charmed us anyway....more
I'm completely fascinated by this book and this woman. After reading American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld, which is based on Laura Bush's life, I wanted to find out as much as I could about the real person. I didn't know anything about her before American Wife and after reading, I was intrigued to know that she is/was liberal, smart, articulate, funny, and most importantly, a democrat.

This book, a biography of Laura Bush written by a Texas journalist assigned to her from the Bush governship to the...more
Feb 01, 2009 Marcia rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of An American Wife
I wanted to read this one because Curtis Sittenfeld used it extensively for her research in American Wife. This was not an authorized biography. The portrayal of the daughters in this book is very unflattering, as is the parenting, otherwise there isn't much new here.
I guess the thing I keep coming back to is that Laura Bush was so passionate about literacy and education, it really matters to her and she defines herself as a reader, yet the silence and deferment to her husband when she could hav...more
Nov 09, 2008 Catyche rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: political junkies, "American Wife" readers
Recommended to Catyche by: Curtis Sittenfeld
Shelves: non-fiction
I had decided to read this biography as a prelude to Curtis Sittenfeld's novel "American Wife" which fictionalizes Laura Bush's life. Gerhart's book really tries to delve into the life of a woman who purposely keeps herself at a distance from any scrutiny. Informative and interesting, it attempts to give insight into the psyche and actions of the first lady to one of the most controversial presidents ever to lead the U.S. I especially loved the parts detailing her life as a reader-I never though...more
i was inspired to read this by curtis sittenfeld's book "american wife."
it was okay. i don't envy ann gerhart the task of writing a book about a woman who was then married to the president of the united states, who was very modest and valued her privacy. the result is, there just isn't a whole lot to sink your teeth into. laura bush is a wonderful woman who has done many great things. and probably reading this has made me more generous in my thoughts of her husband. (i will say no more.)

Hank Stuever
Excellent example of how to report, deeply, an entire nonfiction book about a subject who will not deign to give you even an hour to answer basic questions or clear up misconceptions. Most authors would flail about. This book shows us how to get at the facts anyhow, and then determine a truth. And disclosure: It's written by one my dearest friends. But nevertheless! (And I agree -- it's essential reading for anyone who liked Curtis Sittenfeld's novel, "American Wife.")
Cassie Howley
This was a great book, and made you both love and hate Laura Bush at the same time. On one hand, there seems to be more to Laura than was ever let on during the Bush presidency. On the other hand, there seemed to be many times where she would just let Bushy walk all over her, and that was disappointing (albeit not unexpected.) Laura is a very educated woman though, and always composed herself with grace.
Jul 09, 2013 Jess rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
Interesting subject material, but I can't help think this book would have been much much better had Ann Gerhart sat on the material and waited a little longer. It feels a bit repetitive and unorganized. The book grazes on the topic of what the First Lady's role in American life/history has been--and the book is begging for a deeper exploration of this topic.
After reading " American Wife", I had to read this book of Laura Bush. I was never a George Bush fan but after watching "W" and reading about Laura Bush, I feel a little differently about him. As a president, terrible- but as a husband and father, not bad.
He is lucky to have such a devoted wife and she is lucky to have a husband who accept her for who she is.
Found it to be pretty close to Sittenfield's fictional version, American Wife, minus some of the melodrama. It shed insight on Laura's political roots and moral beliefs that is not so evident in the public eye. The novel left me with a more positive perspective of Laura Bush, as a mother, humanitarian, politician, intelect, and wife.
I find Laura Bush enigmatic as she holds such different views from her husband. I admire her for staunchly supporting her husband, but at the same time am disgusted with her for not using her position to influence more things at the highest level in American politics. I think I'd like her if not for her husband.
Margo Kelly
Can I mark it as "read" if I got bored and stopped reading? Probably not... but I don't want it on my "currently reading" list anymore. It's not a bad book... it's a BIOGRAPHY. And, I haven't been a fan of those since... well... EVER!

I gave it a try out of curiousity, but this book bored me silly.
After reading Curtis Sittenfeld's book "The American Wife" I got curious about Laura Bush.

UPDATE: I really don't think I learned much, other than Laura Bush is really hard to get to know. And that her children aren't well-mannered. And the book is dated - I wonder what she would change now?
Erica - Bonner Springs Library
Nov 07, 2011 Erica - Bonner Springs Library rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Erica - by: Melissa Bowles-Terry
4 1/2 stars. After reading American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld I decided to pick up the book that inspired American Wife. It was a very interesting portrait of the real Laura Bush. I felt that Curtis Sittenfeld's Alice was a stronger woman than Gerhart portrays in The Perfect Wife.
Jan 08, 2009 Erica rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Erica by: Melissa
4 1/2 stars. After reading American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld I decided to pick up the book that inspired American Wife. It was a very interesting portrait of the real Laura Bush. I felt that Curtis Sittenfeld's Alice was a stronger woman than Gerhart portrays in The Perfect Wife.
I was really interested in learning more about Laura Bush. I felt like I did get to know her better, and like her even more, although the author seemed to repeat herself too often. I'm a fan of West Texas women...and Laura Bush is very easy to admire. I'd recommend the book.
I read American Wife recently and loved it. It's a fictional account of Laura Bush's life. So...I decided to read a non-fiction work about her. I'm still interested in her, but not quite as much as before. Her life is better when it's embellished for fiction.
Jul 25, 2011 Nancy added it
If you don't know anything at all about Laura Bush, this is a good book to read. However, if you've followed her for any length of time, and are at all familiar with her life, you already know pretty much everything in this book.
I had always viewed Laura Bush as a bobble head first lady: always smiling and looking nice but not much substance. Interesting to read what the cost of being "the perfect first lady" was for her personal and political beliefs.
After reading the Good Wife, I wanted a true story of Laura Bush and this was an interesting read. It does make you understand Laura Bush better and appreciate how she coudl stand by George even when he did stupid things!!
I did read the first half of the book. I enjoyed reading about Laura's youth, college years, short career as a librarian, whirlwind courtship with George, their wedding, and the beginning of George's political career.
This book was an easy read which I like in biographies and memoirs, I dislike when they're like reading an immensely dull textbook. However I don't really feel like I learned anything which is why I gave it 3 stars.
May 23, 2010 Laura rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
I read this after I read Curtis Sittenfeld's An American Wife. This was the biography that she recommended. I enjoyed it, even though I continue to loathe Laura Bush for not speaking up about anything.
Oct 31, 2013 Beks added it
Shelves: bios
Wasn't a huge fan of this biography. The author comes from a different party than Mrs. Bush, and she throws in some not-so-subtle jabs at the Bush Administration, Mrs. Bush's choices, and on their family.
Great read! Who knew I would read not one, but two Laura Bush books in less than a month! I connected so completely with her voracious reading habits and deep love for 'all things books'.....
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