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

Twelve: Grand Central. Apr. 2019. 432p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781538713648. $32.50; ebk. ISBN 9781538713655. BIOG
OrangeReviewStarPage, Washington correspondent for USA Today, tackles the life of former first lady Barbara Bush (1925–2018) in this new biography. While the work is not officially authorized, Page interviewed Bush many times before her death in 2018 and had access to her voluminous diaries that no other historian has seen. Page's coverage includes key moments, such as her marriage to George Bush, the death of her daughter Robin, her struggles with depression, the development of her own political consciousness, and her contentious relationship with Nancy Reagan. While the Bushes' marriage is often held up as an ideal one, Page concludes that the long-rumored affair that George Bush had with aide Jennifer Fitzgerald was likely true, even though both always denied it. The author spends considerable time analyzing Barbara Bush's personality, including her quick wit, bluntness, self-deprecation, loyalty to her husband, and strict methods for raising her children and grandchildren; all traits that captivated the public.
VERDICT An engaging read full of rich behind-the-scenes details of a fascinating matriarch and public leader, including her struggles and triumphs.
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