Grace & Steel: Dorothy, Barbara, Laura, and the Women of the Bush Dynasty

St. Martin’s. Mar. 2021. 560p. ISBN 9781250248718. $29.99. BIOG
Bestselling celebrity biography Taraborrelli, author of books such as Jackie, Janet & Lee and The Hiltons, here focuses on the lives of First Ladies Barbara (1925-2018) and Laura (b. 1946), as well as Barbara’s mother-in-law Dorothy Walker Bush (1901-92). Taraborrelli engagingly presents the background and stories of these three women, reporting both the public triumphs and private failures each faced and overcame. In their roles as marriage partners and chief political boosters, Dorothy, Barbara, and Laura Bush, each of whom also experienced personal tragedy, public embarrassment, marital problems, financial downturns, and sometimes debilitating bouts of depression, still graciously and stalwartly bolstered sometimes-errant sons and husbands through a series of public service careers. The author also explores the lives of lesser-known women, including Sharon, former wife of Neil Bush as well as Columba, wife of Jeb Bush. But Taraborrelli focuses primarily on Laura’s life before and during her time as First Lady, and her sometimes difficult relationship with mother-in-law Barbara. Using public records, memoirs, interviews, and secondhand sources, the author portrays the women of the Bush family as far more interesting, and occasionally more ambitious, than the men.
VERDICT Similar to Taraborrelli’s other books, this is a gossipy read for those who enjoy biography.
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