As widely expected, former President George W. Bush, like many past occupants of the Oval Office, is writing a book. But rather than delivering a more traditional presidential memoir, Mr. Bush plans to explain 12 difficult personal and political decisions he has made.
Mr. Bush mentioned the book Tuesday in his first speech since leaving office, delivered in Calgary, Alberta. The book, tentatively titled “Decision Points,” is to be published in 2010 by Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House.
According to Robert B. Barnett, the Washington lawyer who negotiated the deal with Crown on Mr. Bush’s behalf, the book will cover Mr. Bush’s decisions relating to Sept. 11, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Barnett said Mr. Bush would also write about why he ran for president, his decision to quit drinking, his discovery of religious faith, and his relationships with his parents, wife and siblings.
Bush reportedly signed a $7 million deal for the book. Alex Koppelman noted that this is obviously a lot of money, but not in the broader context: “It’s $5 million less than Bill Clinton got for his memoir, $1 million less than Hillary Clinton got for hers and even $2 million less than former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.”
I’m a little surprised Bush was able to get as much as he did for a book that almost certainly won’t fly off the shelves.
For one thing, the former president isn’t exactly known for candor and honesty. Who’s going to pony up $29.95 for a book written by someone who can’t be trusted?
For another, what are the odds that Bush’s book will include juicy, heretofore unknown revelations? Or even fascinating behind-the-scenes insights?
Perhaps most importantly, it’s hard to imagine there being any meaningful demand for the former president’s thoughts on key decisions. It’s hardly a secret that practically all of his big decisions turned out to be a mistake, if not completely disastrous. Is there really a market for reliving the details of one man’s misguided judgment? Won’t most book buyers prefer to forget these decisions? It doesn’t exactly scream, “Best seller.”
The book will apparently be titled, “Decision Points.” I’m sure we can come up with better titles than that. Any suggestions?