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I was struck by this volume in my local bookseller if, for no other reason than the slightly boss-eyed look of its author.  “Spoken from the Heart” by Laura Bush, the former First Lady should be a vivid insiders eye view of life within one of the most controversial White Houses of recent years.  It should be pulsing with tension, loaded with insight, and dotted about with little gems of indiscretion.

It is written, after all, by a woman passionate about reading.  Laura Bush, we were told, is avid for the cause of literacy and is herself a professional librarian.  So it was astonishing to find it “helped” by writer Lyric Winik.  A ghost!  Ye gods and little fish!

Oh dear, oh dear.

Still, between them, we are given a lyrical enough vision of growing up in small town Texas during the 50’s.  We get the life etched in wind and sand, we feel for the personal loneliness of this sensitive soul and empathised with her grief over that fatal car crash.  So far, so ok.

It’s once ol’ Gee Dubya hoves up on the scene that it all goes flat.  We don’t get what the attraction is.  So Laura what was it that attracted you to millionaire George Walker Bush?

Laura’s relations with the rest of the Bush clan are elided over.  Nowhere do we get her oft quoted nickname for Barbara Bush of “Don Corlione”.  The booze is whitewashed, and we just see the domestic routine of dull, boring people.  She seems not to get the strength of the feelings that GW roused in people, and only gives us platitudes about it all working out for the best.

Even the anecdotes are feeble.  The best (and boy did I have to look hard) is that on a trip to Germany for a G7 conference, GW got food poisoning and had to have a lie down.  A lie down?  Dear grief woman is that it?

Now, if she had wanted a real food poisoning story, she could have looked no further than her own father-in-law.  President George Bush senior.  How many of us remember that 1992 State visit to Japan when either through tiredness and overwork, jet lag or a food bug, George Bush senior attended the State Banquet in his honour only to chunder the lot into the lap of his unsuspecting host the Prime Minister of Japan?  In public.  In front of hundreds of people.  And live on TV.  Priceless.

If you spewed sushi like I spewed sushi….


That’s a food poisoning story.  It’s got style.  Which is more than this book has.

Give it a miss.

(In the comments below a contributor has added video of the banquet!)

Copyright David Macadam 2010