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The secret literary life of George W. Bush

By / December 30, 2008



It is perhaps something they should have told us sooner: George W. Bush is a voracious reader. "In the 35 years I've known George W. Bush, he's always had a book nearby," writes Karl Rove in last weekend's Wall Street Journal.

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"[Bush] plays up being a good ol' boy from Midland, Texas, but he was a history major at Yale and graduated from Harvard Business School. You don't make it through either unless you are a reader," Rove insists.

"There is a myth perpetuated by Bush critics that he would rather burn a book than read one. Like so many caricatures of the past eight years, this one is not only wrong, but also the opposite of the truth and evidence that bitterness can devour a small-minded critic. Mr. Bush loves books, learns from them, and is intellectually engaged by them. "

Apparently Rove and Bush had a reading contest going since early 2006. Although in the end, Rove read more titles than did the president, Rove says that Bush has devoured hundreds of books (including reading the Bible all the way through each year.)

Some of the titles that Rove says Bush read during the period of their contest include the following: "The nonfiction ran from biographies of Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Carnegie, Mark Twain, Babe Ruth, King Leopold, William Jennings Bryan, Huey Long, LBJ and Genghis Khan to Andrew Roberts's 'A History of the English Speaking Peoples Since 1900,' James L. Swanson's 'Manhunt,' and Nathaniel Philbrick's 'Mayflower' Besides eight Travis McGee novels by John D. MacDonald, Mr. Bush tackled Michael Crichton's 'Next,' Vince Flynn's 'Executive Power,' Stephen Hunter's 'Point of Impact,' and Albert Camus's 'The Stranger,' among others."

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