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'Destiny and Power' Unveils the Private Personality of President George H.W. Bush


In the final days before the November election, a letter by President George H.W. Bush was widely circulated on the internet and across the traditional media. It was a letter he wrote to his successor, Bill Clinton, as Clinton prepared to take up residency in the White House. The letter was a lot of things: gracious, thoughtful and for a lot of people, surprising.

It showed an eloquent side to the first President Bush that many didn't necessarily associate with him, even among his supporters. But that eloquence is consistent with the George Bush that surfaces in journalist Jon Meacham's exhaustive biography of the 41st president, Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush.

Meacham is the former editor of Newsweek, and won the Pulitzer Prize for his 2009 biography of President Andrew Jackson.

"One of the things biographers are supposed to do is close the gap between public impression and private reality," says Meacham. "So my goal here was to try to close the gap that I had experienced in my own life."

The author was first inspired to write this biography during an interview with the President in 1998. "He gave off this kind of quiet, persistent charisma - not a word you associate with George H.W. Bush, by any means - a sense of command, a sense that things would be safe if he were in charge," explains Meacham. "When you think about it, that's a fundamental political transaction in a democracy, is the capacity to communicate that sense." 

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