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Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  311 ratings  ·  56 reviews
In this ambitious work of political narrative, Robert Draper takes us inside the Bush White House and delivers an intimate portrait of a tumultuous decade and an embattled administration.Virtually every page of this book crackles with scenes, anecdotes, and dialogue based on access to every principal actor in the Bush administration, including six newsmaking interviews wit ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published March 25th 2008 by Free Press (first published September 4th 2007)
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(showing 1-30 of 599)
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Don Dodge
Amazing. It's hard to find a political biography that tries to be unbiased. Sometimes George W. Bush is a hero. Sometimes, his weaknesses are glaring. But seeing the world through his eyes is truly eye-opening, especially 9-11. One thing is certain, you won't look at our current president in the same way.
Ronald Wise
Perhaps because I was already beginning to view this president as pathetic, this book fostered feelings of sympathy and understanding of which I wouldn't have previously believed I was capable. Though the author touches on some of the embarrassing moments of W's tenure, there were obvious controversial aspects that were glossed over. An internal debate followed the reading of this book: Maybe he wasn't such a bad guy, but what about this and that and…? I guess I'll refrain in the future from dis ...more
Mazola1
A lot more anecdote than analysis. Perhaps that's always the hazard in trying to write about a presidency that's not even over yet. He shows us a lot of leaves, and some of them are even interesting, but there's just no forest there. Despite the title, there's really no unifying theme to this book.
Brian
Another library book, requested this after seeing the author on the Daily Show and Charlie Rose.

I suppose this book humanizes the president to some extent, but not in any particularly flattering way. He has two equally unappetizing modes: petulant and arrogant.
Marieke
as unlaughable as the past eight years have been, i actually snickered through many parts of this book. i also came away with a much more nuanced understanding of our dear president. i'm sure he would dislike that.
Jason
This is an engaging and page-turning historical and literary narrative of the first six years of the G W Bush Presidency and the preceding 2000 Presidential campaign. The recently completed Bush presidency is obviously a consequential, controversial and intriguing time in American history. The book begins with a statement from the President to the author in late 2006 that you “can’t possibly figure out my Presidency until I’m dead.” What the author then does for the rest of the book is to demons ...more
Gary Miller
This book was published in 2007. It seemed odd to me that the author would publish the book now rather than waiting until 2009 in order to review the entire Bush presidency.

The author spent months preparing this book, which included interviews with George W. Bush. In passing, Bush had mentioned to Mr. Draper (December 2006) that he was working on finishing reading his 87th book that year. I find that a little hard to believe. First, I wasn’t aware that Bush could read let alone read eighty some
...more
Brandon
Well, I got through about half of the book's content and decided to fold. I feel sorry for anyone unfortunate enough to have bought this little stinker. The good news is that most books now are printed with soy ink. Cut out the pages, shred them, and you'd have a nice mulch for your garden.

So here's the deal: I noticed in his end notes that he suggests the second half of his book is primarily informed by personal interviews with Bush. The other half, he maintains, he researched extensively with
...more
Drew
Dead Certain is a balanced report on Bush as President. After early chapters on his background and the primary race, Dead Certain is a fast-paced chronicle of all the major events of his presidency. The author provides great inside details, suprisingly candid information from all the inner circle, and great explanations of the machinations of the Executive Branch. The author remains non-partisan, but provides sound analysis of both his triumphs and mistakes.
Did this change my perception of Bush
...more
Don
As advertised, this is a reasonably nuanced view of Bush's character as it impacts his Presidency. In my view, based upon other things I have read, Draper is probably somewhat kinder to Bush than is warranted.

Draper conducted 6 lengthy interviews with Bush himself, as well as interviews with others in the administration, and these form the basis for much of the material in the book. Based on Draper's Author's Notes, it does not appear that he relied much on interviews or other testimony from no
...more
James
Nov 11, 2007 James rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone trying to better understand the difficult role of the President of the United States.
President Bush's mistakes and his successes, told through the lens of a straight-forward biography, "Dead Certain" reveals the aggravating and often-times heartfelt choices of President Bush, an exercise-addict, a man consumed with his legacy as he approaches the end of his 8 year presidency, and a father, husband, and man of faith.

Compulsively readable, and filled with humanizing and terrifying stories about President Bush's humanity, his beliefs, and his arrogance/mishandling of an invasion t
...more
Colleen
It took me so long to get through I feel like I forgot what the first half was about--how he became governor, his popularity because of his "shoot from the gut," simple-man attitude, his obsession and competitiveness with exercise and competition, his distaste for unplanned, unorchestrated press events--but then those are just a few the thematic strands wrapped around a whole lot of politics and a dizzying list of political characters.

The epilogue is a nice wrap-up, summarizing Draper's final t
...more
Nathan
What a fascinating read. Draper, who covered Bush for years in Texas, does a pretty remarkable job of putting Bush on display for his reader's interpretations. It's hard for an biographer to remain objective as their purpose is to make their subject interesting. He does paint a more complex picture of Bush then I could have imagined. Who knew that he was actually so involved in the editing of his speeches for example? I am not a fan of George Bush, but I couldn't resist this opportunity to look ...more
Brad
A surprisingly fair, although incomplete, look at the Bush 43 presidency. You can tell that Draper had substantial access to the president and his staff. As a result his analysis (virtues and flaws) of Bush both as a president and as a person has a refreshing sense of credibility. Draper does not rely on stereotypes, but he does address them. Also, his writing style is unique and engaging (he uses a method in which he occasionally italicizes internal/unspoken thoughts).

Two things that I found i
...more
Laura
Given the controversy that has occurred during W's presidency, it's hard to find a biography that doesn't cater to one end of the political spectrum. Having written for Texas Monthly and GQ, Draper isn't a political writer. He had written a rather favorable article about Bush when he was governor of Texas and was therefore granted an unprecedented six (or so) interviews with the president and his staff, including Rove.
You're not going to find a book that absolves him or, conversely, lists every
...more
Ron
Draper in his book's final pages states that, "...my principal aim in this text was to render Bush as a many-shaded literary character." To this, I must say, "Mission Accomplished". He covers approximately a decade, including much of the country's George W. years. It's an easy read, and due to the subject matter it stirs memories that are not that far under the surface for most of us. However, I must say that I got more out of Scott McClellan's book, "What Happened", and in asking myself why thi ...more
Karen
Reading this book was like being a fly on the wall during George Bush's presidency. Whereas I suppose a Bush fan might take umbrage at the portrait of Bush as a ridiculously optimistic and shallow thinker, I was amazed to find out he is as engaged in governing as depicted. The book reads like a light Bob Woodward meets the NY Post - a little gossipy and heavy on the personal details surrounding all the major milestones of the last seven years. I can honestly say I really have no idea from what p ...more
Eleanore
A well-written and balanced account of the lives and characters inside the previous administration. The former Texas Monthly writer draws a portrait of George W Bush that moves beyond the partisan hysteria or equally inane hagiographic worship of previous writers, drawing out with great sensitivity and yet unsparing clarity Bush's essential qualities. This book also provides an insightful guide (for lay-readers of domestic politics) to the administration's political strategy - its strengths and ...more
Mary Sue
Oct 07, 2007 Mary Sue rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who are perplexed by this man. Also history buffs.
I have always been astonished at how different 41 and 43 appeared to be. After reading this book I will no longer even think of them as being related. 43 is a product of his priveledged Texas upbringing. He operates as if wearing blinders, seeing only the path he has selected and not the whole world of influences. He seems to inspire loyalty, but mostly from his Texan entourage. This was a good read, a good character study. I am curious why the book I read was titled "Dead Certain:The Presidency ...more
Jay
While I really like this book, and it has given me a great deal more appreciation of for President Bush, I'm constantly noting that entire issues and scandals are glossed over. I feel this book does a good job writing for the center, but I can see rightward leanings throughout the pages. Perhaps the author wanted to keep the volume down. I just feel that another book, which would be just as long, could go into and cover the follies of this administration. And, to be honest, after all the damage ...more
Jon
This was an up close look into the character of George W. Bush. Robert Draper was granted 6 one on one interviews with the President which gives this book authority as far as describing Bush's quirks and foibles. Its not an attack on Bush but neither is it an affirmation of his presidency; the facts are weighted against Bush's words and readers are left to make their own conclusions.

For me, a native of Washington D.C., the book brings to life the turbulent Bush White House, the goings on of whi
...more
Carolyn
I thought the author offered some interesting insights on the psychology behind Bush's decision making process, and how his background has influenced the way he governs. However, he glosses over the influence of Bush's religion on his decision making and the role that Dick Cheney has played in the presidency. I feel that I have a better understanding now of why Bush makes the decisions he does, but I still don't agree with them. In fact, I think after reading the book I have an even lower tolera ...more
Dave
The thing about this book is that I believe it was written by a journalist that had a fairly favorable opinion of President Bush going in. So where a lot of the book might have been written much more harshly by a writer that came at Bush from a different perspective, Draper's account of many of Bush's failings comes off as much more damning because of his place as a journalist that the administration trusted enough to give so much access.
Jack
Dead Certain is a fantastic first attempt to objectively judge the GW Bush years. That will not be an easy task for a decade or more. People will argue about Iraq, the deficit, Katrina, and so much more for decades to come. Yet Draper did a fine job of walking the tightrope of objectivity, so much as is possible. Well written with just enough new nuggets to make it worthwhile reading even for those who follow politics.
Phil
Thus far, it lives up to its billing. An interesting look into the mind and world-view of Preaident Bush. It reveals him as a man who is "dead certain" about everything, with little room for compromise. Against this backdrop of the Bush presidency characters back-stabbing, it reveals a president who cares deeply about wounded veterans and HIV/AIDS in Africa.
Teressa
All I can say is that I did my best to keep an open mind. But no matter how hard I tried to understand the guy, his way of thought and manner of decision making goes against everything I believe in. After reading this very unbiased account of the presidency, I stand firm in my belief that Dubya is a self-involved prick. Can I say prick on Goodreads?
Ray Blanchard
Very well written and honestly told. Draper does a great job of telling it like it is with partisan politics. A true straight shooter.
Will James
One of the most open minded and informative books on George W. Bush's presidency. Whilst Draper's writing-style is somewhat distracting, he nevertheless provides the most penetrating analysis of Bush's personality and motivations and how that impacted upon his time in the White House.
Susan Sanders
Hated the use of "Laura" when talking about Mrs. Bush because all males were referred to by last names. Ick. I was curious about this not-so-negative look at the Bush presidency and discovered that there isn't any way to present the truth in a not-so-negative way.
Petero
Well done. One of the better balanced presidential biographies I have read. I never liked the man but after reading this I can better understand why some people did.
In reading this book I have now read a biography of every U.S. president. Yay.
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Bush not so Dumb!! 1 16 Oct 31, 2008 02:31PM  
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Robert Draper (born November 15, 1959)[1] is a freelance writer, a correspondent for GQ and a contributor to The New York Times Magazine. Previously, he worked for Texas Monthly, where he first became acquainted with the Bush political family.
Robert Draper attended Westchester High School in Houston, Texas. He is the grandson of Leon Jaworski, prosecutor during the Watergate scandal, segregation t
...more
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