In this brave, beautiful, and deeply personal memoir, Laura Bush, one of our most beloved and private first ladies, tells her own extraordinary story. Laura Bush's compassion, her sense of humor, her grace, and her uncommon willingness to bare her heart make this story revelatory,... read more
Born in the boom-and-bust oil town of Midland, Texas, Laura Welch grew up as an only child in a family that lost three babies to miscarriage or infant death. She vividly evokes Midland's brash, rugged culture, her close relationship with her father, and the bonds of early friendships that... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
Born in the boom-and-bust oil town of Midland, Texas, Laura Welch grew up as an only child in a family that lost three babies to miscarriage or infant death. She vividly evokes Midland's brash, rugged culture, her close relationship with her father, and the bonds of early friendships that sustain her to this day. For the first time, in heart-wrenching detail, she writes about the devastating high school car accident that left her friend Mike Douglas dead and about her decades of unspoken grief. When Laura Welch first left West Texas in 1964, she never imagined that her journey would lead her to the world stage and the White House. After graduating from Southern Methodist University in 1968, in the thick of student rebellions across the country and at the dawn of the women's movement, she became an elementary school teacher, working in inner-city schools, then trained to be a librarian. At age thirty, she met George W. Bush, whom she had last passed in the hallway in seventh grade. Three months later, "the old maid of Midland married Midland's most eligible bachelor." With rare intimacy and candor, Laura Bush writes about her early married life as she was thrust into one of America's most prominent political families, as well as her deep longing for children and her husband's decision to give up drinking. By 1993, she found herself in the full glare of the political spotlight. But just as her husband won the Texas governorship in a stunning upset victory, her father, Harold Welch, was dying in Midland.
In 2001, after one of the closest elections in American history, Laura Bush moved into the White House. Here she captures presidential life in the harrowing days and weeks after 9/11, when fighter-jet cover echoed through the walls and security scares sent the family to an underground shelter. She writes openly about the White House during wartime, the withering and relentless media spotlight, and the transformation of her role as she began to understand the power of the first lady. One of the first U.S. officials to visit war-torn Afghanistan, she also reached out to disease-stricken African nations and tirelessly advocated for women in the Middle East and dissidents in Burma. She championed programs to get kids out of gangs and to stop urban violence. And she was a major force in rebuilding Gulf Coast schools and libraries post-Katrina. Movingly, she writes of her visits with U.S. troops and their loved ones, and of her empathy for and immense gratitude to military families. With deft humor and a sharp eye, Laura Bush lifts the curtain on what really happens inside the White House, from presidential finances to the 175-year-old tradition of separate bedrooms for presidents and their wives to the antics of some White House guests and even a few members of Congress. She writes with honesty and eloquence about her family, her public triumphs, and her personal tribulations.
“Senator Kennedy kept his eyes averted from the screen...I have often wondered if the small talk that morning was Ted Kennedy’s defense mechanism, if after so much tragedy—the combat death of his oldest brother in World War II, the assassinations of his brothers Jack and Robert, and the deaths of nephews, including John Jr., whose body he identified when it was pulled from the cold, dark waters off Martha’s Vineyard—if after all of those things, he simply could not look upon another grievous tragedy.”
“For months afterward at night, in bed, we’d hear the military jets thundering overhead, traveling so fast that the ground below quivered and shook. They would make one pass and then, three or five minutes later, make another low-flying loop. I would fall asleep to the roar of the fighters in the skies, hearing in my mind those words, “one of our own.” There was a quiet security in that, in knowing that we slept beneath the watchful cover of our own.”
“Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”Highlighted by 195 Kindle customers
Life’s largest truth may be that everyone faces tragedy. Learning to accept those tragedies, learning to accept that life is riddled with events large and small, events that you may cause or that may happen to you, events that you can never control, is perhaps the hardest lesson of all. In that wrenching fact, I have faith that no one is ever alone.Highlighted by 179 Kindle customers
‘Love knows not its own depths until the hour of parting.’Highlighted by 175 Kindle customers
Their crimes show the world that evil can slip in and blend in, amid the most civilized of surroundings. In the end, only conscience can stop it, and moral discernment and decency and tolerance. These can never be assured in any time or in any society. They must always be taught.”Highlighted by 119 Kindle customers
“My definition of a hero,” Pfeifer said that morning, “is one of ordinary people doing the ordinary right thing at an extraordinary time.”Highlighted by 93 Kindle customers
The English language lacks the words to mourn an absence. For the loss of a parent, grandparent, spouse, child, or friend, we have all manner of words and phrases, some helpful, some not. Still, we are conditioned to say something, even if it is only “I am sorry for your loss.” But for an absence, for someone who was never there at all, we are wordless to capture that particular emptiness. For those who deeply want children and are denied them, those missing babies hover like silent, ephemeral shadows over their lives. Who can describe the feel of a tiny hand that is never held?Highlighted by 66 Kindle customers
Both George and I find the presence of close friends and the people we love comforting. Our whole married life, though, we have been comforted most by each other. Being nearby was how in those days, weeks, and months we reassured each other. We do not have to speak; ours is a language not just of words but of a shared presence. We take comfort simply from knowing that the other one is in the room. We are anchored to each other. And if it is my nature to be calm, it is also George’s to steady and buoy me. We are two symbiotic souls.Highlighted by 60 Kindle customers
When you are missing a parent, you live with a special sadness for your entire life.Highlighted by 57 Kindle customers
“The greatest gift of all, he was certain, was the gift of an inquiring mind.” McCullough quoted Adams, saying, “I shall have the liberty to think for myself,” and he added, “We face a foe today who believes in enforced ignorance. We don’t.” That plainspoken statement says so much about America, then and now.Highlighted by 45 Kindle customers
“We live in a day when contagious hysteria and social pressures can completely anesthetize a person’s ability to reason,” and adding, “In times of rapid change, the old may be destroyed along with the decayed. There are some time-tested, eternal values.”Highlighted by 44 Kindle customers
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