01/12/2011 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

What George W. Bush Book Reveals: Joe Klein

The presidential memoir is among the more dreadful of literary forms. Most of them are far too long, and suffocating for the heavy woolen tone of false modesty that swaddles the egomania at the heart of the matter. They are defensive, evasive and stiff. Bush's effort is all that, but better than most. It reads well. The anecdotes are occasionally revealing. There is emotion, and it is real. The pace is brisk enough to delude the unwary reader into a suspension of disbelief at first, but gradually the weakness of this chatty strategy becomes clear: Bush breezes through fundamental and earth-shattering decisions without slowing down to acknowledge their moral complexity. At the most important moments of his presidency -- most notably, the decision to go to war in Iraq -- he refuses to honestly consider opposing points of view or see the long-term, ancillary effects of what he is deciding.

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