“History will be kind to me,” Winston Churchill famously said, “for I intend to write it.” For presidents who have left the White House, the desire to burnish their own images with a memoir is almost irresistible, not to mention highly lucrative. Over the last fifty years, only one former president has not yielded to the urge—George H.W. Bush.
“I think there are several reasons,” Doro Bush Koch, the president’s youngest child, told me several years ago in Kennebunkport when asked why her father had not written a memoir and never would. Perhaps the most important was that the president’s mother, Dorothy Walker Bush (after whom Doro was named), had instilled in him a lesson that stretched from childhood to his years in the White House: Don’t brag about yourself. “He adheres to these [lessons] to this day,” Doro said.
Although President Bush never wrote about himself, his daughter did. In 2006 she published an admiring biography, “My Father, My President,” an account she described as not objective but true. “I’m not a historian,” she told me. “But historians don’t live with presidents. Daughters do. And so that’s the perspective this book [brings].”