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Thursday, 22 August, 2002, 16:08 GMT 17:08 UK
Bush, turning over new leaf?
President Bush reveals his weighty holiday reading
Mr Bush is not known for being well-read
What do world leaders take on holiday for a little light reading?

George W Bush has revealed that between bouts of bass fishing on his Texas ranch, he curls up with the Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime by military analyst Eliot Cohen at his Texas ranch.

The thrust of the book is that assertive civilian leadership in wartime is more important than giving freer rein to the military.


And, to illustrate the point, it profiles four wartime leaders - Abraham Lincoln, Clemenceau, Winston Churchill and David Ben-Gurion.

Mr Bush is not known for his bookishness. Rather, the US president is famed for his mangled locutions, and a book of his verbal blunders became an instant bestseller.

Iraq

So it may come as a surprise to many that Mr Bush is apparently wading through such a weighty tome.

Perhaps his revelation of his choice of reading matter is simply a hint to his thinking on Iraq, as opposition to military intervention in Iraq builds up at home and abroad.

Mr Bush has revealed his reading habits in public before.

After the 11 September attacks on America, the US president made sure that TV viewers saw him clutching a book about the American civil war, April 1865: The Month That Saved America.

Mystery stories

It tells the story of the conflict that Abraham Lincoln called his country's "great testing".

The book was a best-seller in a country confronted with the greatest test of the 21st Century.


Mr Bush was sort of dismissive in the beginning of the Saladin book - but then he got into it

Karl Rove, Bush adviser
But Mr Bush's apparent interest in political and historical tomes appears to be newly acquired.

During the presidential election campaigns, asked to name his favourite book he said he couldn't think of one.

But, in another live debate, he did concede that he enjoyed mystery stories.

Perhaps he borrowed from his wife's bookshelf. She has professed a passion for English authors, particularly mystery writers Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers.

Austin Powers

According to Laura Bush in a recent interview, at night the president and the First Lady eat dinner together, watch television together and read together before they go to bed.

Karl Rove, one of Mr Bush's most powerful advisers, says he often gives the president history books to read. And, he says, they often chat about them afterwards.

One such recommendation was Richard the Lion Heart and Saladin in the Third Crusade, by James Reston.

Mr Rove told the New York Times that the president was "sort of dismissive in the beginning of the Saladin book - but then he got into it".

So what does the president do for lighter entertainment - to give the little grey matter a rest?

According to his wife they watch movies - Austin Powers is one of their favourites, she confesses.

See also:

28 Sep 01 | UK
03 Mar 01 | Americas
12 Feb 01 | Americas
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