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The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  3,193 ratings  ·  448 reviews
A vivid biography of former First Lady Barbara Bush, one of the most influential and under-appreciated women in American political history.

Barbara Pierce Bush was one of the country’s most popular and powerful figures, yet her full story has never been told.

THE MATRIARCH tells the riveting tale of a woman who helped define two American presidencies and an entire political
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Published April 2nd 2019 by Twelve
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Average rating 4.10  · 
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 ·  3,193 ratings  ·  448 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Jun 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lor-2019, 5000-2019
4.5 I've always respected Barbara Bush, and her dedication to her husband and family. I never knew though, the extent of her contributions and the issues she took on making her own contribution, outside of family. She was in all ways amazing, an uncanny intuition on the issues and world leaders, which proved pivotal on more than one occasion. Her common sense, her matter of fact outlook on the personal and political, were noteworthy. Amazing in this day and age, where so much is centered on look ...more
During women’s history month I pointed out that if I wanted to I could take a year and focus my reading on memoirs and biographies of remarkable women. That has not come to fruition as of yet, but when I heard about a new biography about Barbara Bush, wife and mother of presidents, I knew that it was a book waiting for me to read. I have previously read Mrs Bush’s memoirs as well as President George HW Bush’s volume of letters so I felt I knew about the President and First Lady away from the spo ...more
Jill Meyer
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've never particularly been a fan of Barbara Pierce Bush. She has always struck me as a woman with a waspish tongue and a rather prickly personality. I knew her adulthood had been shaped by the death of a daughter at the age of three from leukemia and from her long-term marriage to George Bush. But I was anxious to read Susan Page's new biography, "The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty." The book is very good and I've learned a bit about Mrs Bush that I didn't know b ...more
Elizabeth A.G.
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While some perceived the 41st First Lady of the U.S. as an anachronism with her grandmotherly appearance and seemingly old-fashioned attitudes to wifely and family responsibilities over her own educational and career opportunities, Susan Page in her book The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty reveals the woman, behind the scenes in her husband's goals and career advancement, as having compassion, fortitude, strength and perseverance.

The author makes great use Mrs. Bush
Barbara Bush is only the second first lady to be the wife and mother of presidents. Abigail Adams was the other. Susan Page has done a good job with the biography of Barbara Bush.

The book is well written and researched. Page had access to Bush’s private diaries and papers. She also had multiple interviews with BB as well as her family, friends and colleagues. In fact, she interviewed over 100 people. Page appears to reveal more of the personal side of BB including spending more time with the dea
Nov 23, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was, in many respects, a fine biography. It treats its subject kindly, quotes Barbara Bush's journals enough to provide new material, and focuses on some of the emotional high and low points in her life. But in the end, it left me feeling dissatisfied.

I think the problem is on the one hand, Susan Page presents Barbara Bush as America's Grandma: a tough, loving little woman who dutifully filled her role as wife and mother and supported her husband's decisions. On the other hand, she gives u
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 ⭐️ I don’t know where to start with this book! I really really enjoyed it, but didn’t expect to when I first started it. I can now say without a doubt that I have a deep respect for Barbara Bush. The only thing I knew about her before starting this book was that she was a member of the same sorority as me and that she was the wife and mother of former presidents. Now, after finishing the book, I truly understand the impact she made not only in politics but also the world! A must read if you ...more
Aaron Million
Oct 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
A mostly sympathetic but not sycophantic biography of a truly formidable woman not known for holding her tongue. This is Susan Page's first book, and it comes off fairly well. Her interview efforts are obvious, as she managed to speak to most if not all of the extended Bush family, along with political heavyweights and non-political friends. Of especial note is Page's series of interviews with Barbara Bush (and also George H. W. Bush) prior to her death. Considering that Barbara Bush was very fr ...more
While deciding how much I did or did not like this book, I’ve tried very hard to separate Barbara’s life and personality from the writing itself. I was a little disappointed in many of her views and beliefs, and actually feel like I would have preferred to stay in the dark on them. I also found it curious that she had such self-deprecating humor, but also so much self-confidence in her own choices and what she thought best for other people.

About the writing itself... I think this book was prett
Carly Friedman
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a delightful biography of a strong-willed, intelligent, complicated, and delightful woman. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Cassie-Traveling Sister-
I’ve been wanting to spread my reading and add more memoirs and biographies. I read Michelle Obama’s book and loved it! When I got the chance to read Barbara Bush’s book I was excited I wanted to learn more about this amazing woman who became First Lady and then had her own son become president as well. The book began with the death of her three year old daughter dying of leukemia. This part of the book hit me extremely hard. I also have lost a child my second son was born to early and died a we ...more
Sherry Sharpnack
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’ve taken my time in reviewing this new biography of Barbara Bush, as I took my time reading it. I just haven’t been ready to say good-bye.

I’ll say it out loud: I have always admired Mrs. Bush, esp after reading her mid-90’s autobiography and learning about her loss of a three-year-old daughter. As the mother (at the time) of a handicapped, chronically-ill daughter, the story of Robin really resonated w/ me. And I have always admired Mrs. Bush’s frankness and decidedly-moderate political views.
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Matriarch is a detailed biography of Barbara Bush, wife of President George H. W. Bush. From her girlhood to her life in the White House and beyond, Susan Page presents Barbara Bush in a way that captures, to the extent a book can, the personality and character of Barbara Bush and many of her life experiences and personal struggles.

Many remarks about Barbara Bush characterize her as "one of the most influential and under-appreciated women in American political history." There were many fasci

Anne Brown
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I always admired Barbara Bush, not for her politics, but for her sharp wit, her outspoken nature and her ability to be "real" in a world where people are expected to conform. I certainly didn't agree 100% with her husband's politics but it was interesting to see times when she also disagreed with him. She would make her views known and then leave him to make his decisions and more often than not, he deferred to her better judgment.

Page did an excellent job of developing Barbara's lifetime journe
Jun 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Susan Page depicts an appealing, down-to-earth, sharp-tongued Barbara Bush who held her own in a man’s world. Susan Page selects the adjective, indispensable, to describe Barbara's place in both her family and in American history. ...more
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book was well-written, but I was never a fan of Barbara Bush and the author didn't change my mind. ...more
This was an outstanding biography of former First Lady and First Mother Barbara Bush. I was a young H.W. Bush was President but I still remember having a lot of respect for Barbara Bush and her wit. This biography is very well written and covers her entire life in a way that is interesting and does not get bogged down in unimportant details. Much of the biography is about her relationships and the respect she had from just about everyone around her. The parts that I found most fascinating - espe ...more
Chele Hipp
Apr 16, 2019 rated it liked it
What a strange book. It spends many, many paragraphs discussing how Barbara Bush was more than a support to the people in her life, asserting that she was her own woman. But it spends chapter after chapter discussing her only in the context of other people.

While the book is well researched, it doesn’t tell her own story - most telling when it jumps from her children being preschoolers to them being adults helping on H.W.’s Presidential campaign. Family was the most important thing in Barbara Bu
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Although I didn't always agree with Bush politics, but I liked Barbara Bush for her directness and sardonic humor. Susan Page captured the former first lady's personality, wit and resilience. Barbara Bush was born in the era when women married young, had a bunch of babies and prioritized their husband's career. What's nice about this book is that it underscores how vital Barbara was to the success of her husband and children and how important love and family can be to have a fulfilling life. Thi ...more
May 11, 2019 rated it liked it
While this is an interesting biography and I learned a lot, I did not care for the style of writing. The transition from topic to topic was at times jarring and repeatedly I had to reread paragraphs just to figure out who the first person pronoun was referencing. While this is about Barbara Bush, it is more about the people around her. I came away wondering just what did she do solely for herself? Even her needlepoint was for a purpose other than her own.
Cat Fithian
What a strong, interesting woman. I may not agree with everything she believes but I certainly admire and respect her grace, her dignity and her ability to influence the world around her for the better. A well-written bio.
Vanina Jepperson
Nov 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
I must admit that I knew very little about Barbara Bush before this book. The biography was interesting and very well written. I walked away admiring the strong, confident, family-oriented, funny, unapologetically honest woman that she was. I loved that she kept a journal and how involved she was in raising her children and grandchildren. The world needs more people like Barbara Bush.
Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the book about Barbara Bush and her influence/support of George HW Bush. Yes, she was a devoted, supportive wife; outspoken and passionate mother of her children; grateful for all things (except Nancy Reagan and the Clintons) but these attributes were repeated throughout the book and I found the repetition somewhat tiresome. 3.5 stars
Mary Sisney
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
When I heard that Mrs. Bush had blasted Trump in this biography, I posted on Facebook: "I never thought I'd live to say these words: 'I can't wait to buy the Barbara Bush book.'" Not much is said about Trump in the book, and the few pages dealing with him aren't that interesting because I already knew the content, but I'm happy that I bought and read Page's well-sourced, informative, and usually interesting biography. Despite her racist Katrina comments, the down-to-earth, plainspoken, caustical ...more
Barbara Bush would likely have been called 'feisty' by my grandparents. Strong-willed, determined, blunt with civility and compassion.

From a start at her memorial service, the author moves on to the Bush's devastating loss of their daughter Robin to leukemia at the age of 3. But then we learn about Barbara Pierce, a girl who adored her father, who had a difficult relationship with her critical mother and fell in love with a handsome young man at a country club dance even as World War II was drag
Scott Martin
Jul 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
(Audiobook) A book that made headlines, particularly with the subject’s recent passing and her views on the current president, but it offers a very detailed and candid insight into one of the more public figures in American political life. It starts with perhaps the most painful event in Barbara Bush’s life, the passing of their little daughter, Robin. From there, the book recounts the life of the former First Lady. Perhaps in a different time, Barbara Bush might have established her political i ...more
Donna Hines
"At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal." "You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend, or a parent."
Barbara Bush had few regrets. This is a 'dynasty' and though the man often was deemed to wear the pants in the family - we know who truly wore them.
Barbara lived a life of fulfillment. A life of love. A live of courage.
She was married to the man of her dreams. She lived rather comf
Kathy Kelley
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have always been intrigued by Barbara Bush. At the time she was first lady, I found her to be brusque and almost rude. However, there are many layers to this lady. Even though she and her husband were raised in privileged families, she was very proud that all of her grandchildren were actively doing things to serve others. She endured tragedy as a young mother with the death of her beloved daughter, Robin, from leukemia. She told visitors that no crying was allowed in front of Robin. George fr ...more
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was great!! Barbara Bush was a practical, straightforward, choleric introvert, but she loved being George's wife and a mom to all their kids. She put the hammer down with her family, but thanks to her mother teaching her manners and social skills, she overcame her shyness and she threw backyard barbecues for her husbands coworkers and business partners. Her negative relationship with her mother shaped her personal view of herself always leaving her feeling a little inadequate, a little lack ...more
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this ! I don't usually read biographies, but I always admired Barbara Bush and her commitment to literacy. When I interview for my position at my last school the interview process was intense. One of the questions was "if you could be anybody else that is living right now, who would you be?" and I answered Barbara Bush - because she supported books, literacy, and she seemed so comfortable in her own skin. On the second interview I was asked if I was a perfectionist...and I answered yes. ...more
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Susan Page is the Washington Bureau chief of USA Today, where she writes about politics and the White House. Susan has covered six White House administrations and ten presidential elections. She has interviewed the past nine presidents from Richard Nixon through Donald Trump — and reported from six continents and dozens of foreign countries. (She interviewed Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter aft ...more

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47 likes · 11 comments
“At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal,” she said then. “You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend, or a parent.” 4 likes
“I remember realizing life went on,” she said, “whether we were looking or not.” 2 likes
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