My Promise for Reviewing Decisions Points

by Rachel Baker on November 17, 2010

I just received George W. Bush’s Decision Points for review from Crown Publishing.  In preparation for this reading and ultimately for the review, I did a few things I don’t normally do.  The first being, I’ve read a few professional reviews.  My definition of professional reviews is reviews written by people who are paid to write reviews.  Secondly, I went to Amazon and read 199 reviews from regular readers.  Now, that being said, a portion of these reviews are written by people like me who receive books and add their review to amazon (I normally don’t do this unless I am specifically asked by an author – and this rarely happens).  The other portion of reviews on Amazon are from people who have bought the book and want to help other consumers make an educated decision.

Of the 199 reviews on Amazon, one is hard pressed to find an objective review.  There are a few, but not many.  I find it incredibly disheartening. Throughout the reviews, one finds either pro-Bush/negative-Obama spin with snide little snippets about how much better Bush is than Obama; or they find negative-Bush/pro-Obama with snide little snippets about how much better Obama is than Bush.  Then, one finds incredibly defensive sentences about how Bush had little to do with some of the decisions that have negatively plagued our country because he had to deal with a Democratic-controlled congress.  I suspect the people who made these types of comments are also the same ones that will give Obama no slack over the next two years.  And frankly, you will find the other side of the ideological spectrum saying implying the exact opposite, but at the end of the Obama presidency will be vying for the “give him some slack, he had a Republican-controlled congress.”  Shortly put, a great deal of the ‘reviews’  on Amazon for Decision Points are devisive.  A book review is no place for name calling, or for antagonistic sparring about how people may not have the ability to read a book objectively because of their political leanings.

Here’s the thing:  It doesn’t matter what you think about a person when you review their book.  A book should ALWAYS be reviewed objectively, with an open mind, while looking at the big picture.  A review of a book written by a former president should not be a defense of the good or the bad policies or actions taken during his presidency.  A book of this nature is his reflection of the decisions he made.  Does he remember what happened accurately or is it just a revisionist way of looking at what happened?  Who knows.  Unless you’ve read every single book written about the policies and decisions made during the Bush presidency, I’m betting you can’t really answer that (especially if you only listen to one side of the story, rather than parsing together the real story from both sides of what the media tells us).  More accurately though, unless one can claim they were in the president’s head (any president) and privy to his every thought, I’m not sure any of us can make a statement against whether this book is an accurate reflection of how he made the decisions he did. This is his perspective, right or wrong.

Here’s my promise to you: I will read this book with an open mind.  I will not focus on the policies that were made or the actions taken during the George W Bush presidency.  I’m just not going to do it.  That type of discussion is one for a different type of website.  If I find some discrepancy with books I’ve read on a specific topic, I may recommend a look at a specific book.  I will not rant about how ‘W’ destroyed our economy or killed Americans by making a bad decision; and I will not talk about how much better he was than our current president.

I firmly believe all heads of state, or others in positions of power are no different than any other man or woman on this planet – they just make tougher decisions than most of us ever have to make. We tend to come close to deifying these people for some reason that I can’t really understand.  Here’s the reality though, they put their pants on the same way I do.  One foot in, then the other, and pull them up. These people whose positions we revere at some point step out of the role they are in and write books that absolutely should be reviewed; at which point, they are no different than any other author.  I will review Decision Points as such; and I will leave the back and forth biting comments about whether or not he was a good president to someone else.  The most important questions I ask of every book are: Is it well-written? Is it informative? and is it worth my time to read this book?

I do not know if there is an index or work cited documenting the intelligence and whatnot that helped him make the decisions he did. I do not know really if this book is insightful into who George W is as a man, or rather just who he was as a president, or both. I don’t know if there is any groundbreaking insight that may change people’s perceptions of him as a president.  I know none of this yet.  But I’m going to find out….

Stay tuned for the review in the near future.

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