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Jean Becker

The Amazing Story of George H. W. Bush's Post-Presidency

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31 Min.

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The Man I Knew by Jean Becker is a memoir about his friendship with former President George H.W. Bush. Through personal anecdotes and reflections, Becker offers insight into the character, values, and leadership style of this respected statesman.


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    One Thing After Another

    It was all over in a relative instant. On January 19, 1993, George H. W. Bush was the president of the United States, the leader of the free world. And then, on January 20, he was just another private citizen. He’d been, in his own words, fired by the American people. What was he to do now?

    Well, the first task was welcoming his successor, President Bill Clinton, into the Oval Office. Right before leaving the building, President Bush placed a handwritten note in the top drawer of his desk. In it, he wished the new president great happiness and success. “I am rooting hard for you,” he wrote.

    Next, it was back to Houston, where his new reality truly came crashing down on him. Suddenly, there were no more meals or coffee prepared for him each day; he had no schedule to follow; no one was coming to him to manage a crisis or negotiate a treaty.

    To say it was a shock would be an understatement. But Bush was doing his best to adjust. A few weeks after leaving office, in a letter to Senator Bob Dole –⁠ a political rival turned friend –⁠ he wrote, “Almost simultaneously I load our coffee machine, and then we walk the dogs. And along the way we count our blessings.” Bush always made a point of counting his blessings.

    When he wasn’t navigating the realm of domesticity, he was working in his Houston office, answering mail, working on the planning for his presidential library, and writing a book with his former national security advisor. In his leisure time, he would drop in on baseball training sessions with his eldest son, George W. Bush, who co-owned the Texas Rangers. He also took a fishing trip to Canada and attended the Kentucky Derby.

    Yet despite his rather busy schedule, George H. W. Bush felt lost. He missed the significance of the presidency, the ability to make decisions and weigh in on important issues. Now, no one really seemed to care what he thought about this or that.

    He was in pain, but he rarely showed it –⁠ until April of that year, when tragedy struck: Bush’s dog, Ranger, died. He’d known the dog since it was just a pup, born at the White House, and he’d become deeply attached. When Ranger died, all of President Bush’s pain came pouring out of him in a cascade. He’d lost the presidential election. His mother had died a few weeks later. And now his dog was dead, too.

    Yet there was one more loss to come. That summer, the Bushes traveled to Maine, where they had their summer home. There, his beloved boat was pummeled by a heavy storm and smashed to pieces on the rocks.

    Later, when the journalist George Plimpton asked him what he’d done that summer, President Bush gave a heartbreaking answer: “I just sat there and watched the tide come in and go out.”

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    Worum geht es in The Man I Knew?

    The Man I Knew (2021) is the simultaneously heartwarming, tear-jerking, and surprising story of George H. W. Bush’s life after the White House. Many people are aware of President Bush’s accomplishments as a politician – shepherding the US through the end of the Cold War, successfully navigating the Gulf War, and signing the Americans With Disabilities Act into law, to name but a few. But this isn’t the story of George Bush the politician –⁠ it’s the story of George Bush the husband, friend, and father.

    Wer The Man I Knew lesen sollte

    • Fans of the Bush family and other prominent Republicans
    • Democrats who want to get to know someone on the other side of the aisle
    • Memoir-lovers

    Über den Autor

    Jean Becker served as George H. W. Bush’s chief of staff –⁠ and good friend –⁠ from 1994 through to Bush’s death in 2018. Before that, she was a journalist and spent three years as First Lady Barbara Bush’s deputy press secretary. She edited and did research for All the Best, George Bush: My Life in Letters and Other Writings; Barbara Bush, A Memoir; and Reflections.

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