In this major reassessment of George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st president of the United States, his former Chief of Staff offers a long overdue appreciation of the man and his universally underrated and misunderstood presidency.
“I’m a quiet man, but I hear the quiet people others don’t.”—George H. W. Bush
In this unique insider account, John H. Sununu pays tribute to his former boss—an intelligent, thoughtful, modest leader—and his overlooked accomplishments. Though George H. W. Bush is remembered for orchestrating one of the largest and most successful military campaigns in history—the Gulf War—Sununu argues that conventional wisdom misses many of Bush’s other great achievements.
During his presidency, the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union collapsed. Bush’s calm and capable leadership during this dramatic time helped shape a world in which the United States emerged as the lone superpower. Sununu reminds us that President Bush’s domestic achievements were equally impressive, including strengthening civil rights, enacting environmental protections, and securing passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the 1990 agreement which generated budget surpluses and a decade of economic growth.
Sununu offers unparalleled insight into this statesman who has been his longtime close friend. He worked with Bush when he was vice president under Ronald Reagan, helped him through a contentious GOP primary season and election in 1988, and as his chief of staff, was an active participant and front-row observer to many of the significant events of Bush’s presidency. Reverential yet scrupulously honest, Sununu reveals policy differences and clashes among the diverse personalities in and out of the White House, giving credit—and candid criticism—where it’s due.
The Quiet Man goes behind the scenes of this unsung but highly consequential presidency, and illuminates the man at its center as never before.
Sununu, an engineering dean at Tufts University and three-term governor of New Hampshire, became President George H.W. Bush's White House chief of staff after playing a key role in the contentious 1988 New Hampshire primary. Since leaving government, he has been a prominent talking head on cable television. This chronicle recounts the 1989 1993 Bush presidency. It's easy to see why Bush and Sununu got along in respective roles as Good Cop and Bad Cop. Both were smart, capable technocrats. Bush was calm and personable; Sununu was protective, brusque, and partisan. The author's loyalty to his former boss is absolute, unswerving, and reverential. He witnessed profoundly important transitions in geopolitics, including the Gulf War and fall of the Soviet Union, recounted here in valuable detail. Readers encounter Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev working behind the scenes during the collapse of the USSR. They also encounter the riveting backstory to Operation Desert Storm. Supporting players in this account include Brent Scowcroft, George Mitchell, Bob Dole, Richard Darman, and Tom Foley. It is marred by the unwise choice to stress Bush's unmemorable domestic record along with his adroit foreign policy. The boastful, idiosyncratic superstructure precludes much distanced analysis or balanced assessment. This seemingly unghosted, honestly wrought political memoir nonetheless makes for a valuable addition to the literature on the 41st president of the U.S.