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Revised: September 15, 2016

Word count: about 353 words.

Pete Willows

Democracy, through the barrel of a gun

Bush. By Jean Edward Smith. 2016. 832 pps. Simon &
Schuster. ISBN 9781476741192. $35.00.

Biographer Jean Edward Smith, professor emeritus at

the University of Toronto, has written biographies on US
presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Franklin Roosevelt and
Ulysses Grant. George W. Bush cancelled his meeting with
Smith after learning Smith had written a criticism of Bushs
father so we never hear from our subject.
Nothing profound emerges in this biography, and
perhaps because todays information leaks, social media and
news outlets have left us little to wonder about the
machinations of Bushs presidency. We already know Bush
seemed obsessed with confidently making decisions. Im
the decider, he told us. His memoir was titled, Decision

There are however items inconsistent with the 2015

biography on Bushs father, by Jon Meacham. For example,
Meacham writes that Bush Sr. claimed never to have offered
his son advice during the younger Bushs presidency. This
book claims otherwise, and refers to times when Bush Sr.
was calling the White House switchboard, and also has Bush
Jr. frequently conferring with his father tte--tte.
We see the paradox of Bush Jr. he successfully
navigated the Financial Crisis of 2007 / 2008 by listening to,
and implementing ideas by, his Treasury Secretary and the
Chairman of the US Federal Reserve. Juxtapose this with the
same Bush, retiring generals who disagreed with his
proposed 2007 Troop Surge in Iraq; the same Bush, refusing
to listen to his cabinet and the US House and Senate, and all
of whom vehemently disagreed with the surge.
Repeatedly, Smith tells us of a president on a crusade
for God to defeat evil on Earth, and all the while professing
the need to convert the world to democracy. He made
bizarre references from the Bible to French President Jacques

Chirac, Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East.

Chirac had to consult a theologian to find out what Bush was
talking about.
One thing lingers. While in office, Bush fiendishly read
fourteen biographies on Abraham Lincoln, the president who
presided over the US Civil War, which killed more Americans
than World War I and World War II combined, and almost
ended the United States. What was Bush looking for?
Pete Willows is a contributing writer to The Egyptian
Gazette, and its weekly magazine version, The Egyptian Mail.
He can be reached at