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George W. Bush and his parents, 1955 George Bush Presidential Library BOOKS & THE CULTURE Here We Go Again Tracing the George Family Bush BY MICHAEL KING FIRST SON: George W. Bush and the Bush Family Dynasty. By Bill Minutaglio. Times Books. 384 pages. $25.00. IThis is a book much more interesting than its subject. Indeed, even Governor Bush might agree, since he made a point of telling the author that it was too soon for a biography. “Come back in twenty years,” Bush told Bill Minutaglio. Of course, Bush may have meant that quite literally since, more than a year later, on the day Minutaglio submitted the completed manuscript to his publisher, Bush’s press office told him one more time that the Governor was “still deciding” whether to grant the writer a real interview. The next time they hear the Bush team trumpeting their candidate’s “decisiveness,” voters might recall that exchange. Indeed, the entire subject of “books” is taking on a comic air in relation to the burgeoning George W. Bush mythology. Minutaglio’s substantive and detailed biography has won the race to publication, but will be followed in short order by others already in development, including \(to blow our own and my colleague Louis Dubose \(due this the works, initially to be ghosted by longtime Houston sportswriter Mickey Herskowitz. But when Herskowitz \(hardly an deferential he actually wanted access to more policy material than the Governor’s canned speeches he was unceremoniously dismissed and replaced by head flack Karen Hughes, who knows better than to deviate from the message of the day. And what of the Candidate’s own pen? Well, First Son provides a couple of tasty samples of the Bushean prose, at merciful brevity: “Dear Susan & Michael [Dell]: Laura, the girls and I had a fine time Satur day at your party. We especially appreciated the tour of your home. It is great. I look forward to future visits. Sincerely, GW.” “Dear Myron [Magnet], Thanks for your time and sharing your thoughts with me and my staff. We were all fired up after you charged our intellectual batteries.” There may be no need for a second Bush Library, after all. Minutaglio writes that the campaign bristles at the increasingly widespread realization that the Candidate is not exactly \(to insist that they have seen their boss actually reading books, and Hughes herself once “angrily lectured [an Austin reporter] on how many books Bush was reading, how he read ‘even more books than Karl Rove, and Rove reads a lot of books.” Since strategist Rove’ s favorite political scribe is the execrable Myron Magnet, apostle to the overstuffed, he may not be the best role model for the neo-bibliophile Dubya. Bush might better stick to his New Testament, which he at least says he reads, and the occasional Phillips Andover Academy alumni newsletter. For as First Son suggests, it was at Andover \(and Houston’s Kinkaid Academy essential tools of his political ascendance: affability, gregariousness, and what his schoolmasters called style. In his chapter under that title, Minutaglio reprints the founding-day speech of Kinkaid Headmaster John Cooper, who promised “an education which develops the best in the student, which seeks to give him a sense of style….” At Bush’s 1964 graduation from Andover, Headmaster John Kemper struck much the same note: “You are a proud group in a proud school. This pride will be sustained if you take with you a sense of style.” By all accounts including his own an otherwise indifferent student, Bush learned these lessons well. As a young man he was a legendary shlub, but \(as head cheerleader, stickball commis OCTOBER 29, 1999 24 THE TEXAS OBSERVER