George and Laura: Portrait of an American Marriage

George and Laura: Portrait of an American Marriage

by Christopher P. Andersen

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061032240
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 11/01/2003
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 4.22(w) x 6.86(h) x 1.07(d)

About the Author

Christopher Andersen is the critically acclaimed author of twenty-six books that have been translated into more than twenty languages worldwide. A former contributing editor of Time and senior editor of People, Andersen has also written hundreds of articles for a wide range of publications, including Life magazine, the New York Times, and Vanity Fair.

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George and Laura
Portrait of an American Marriage

Chapter One

September 11, 2001
A Tuesday

He rolled out of bed just before 6 A.M. at Sarasota's Colony tennis resort, pulled on shorts and an old T-shirt, then laced up his favorite pair of frayed-at-the-edges, broken-in-to-perfection running shoes. Thirty minutes later, in the half-light of dawn, the President of the United States was pounding around the palm-lined perimeter of one of Longboat Key's most exclusive golf courses, trailed by puffing Secret Service agents.

Richard Keil, White House correspondent for Bloomberg News and a former All-American distance runner, chatted with the President while they ran. "He was clipping along, and talking very comfortably," Keil recalled. "If you're not in real good shape and running that fast, you can't carry on a conversation." Running, George W. Bush explained, was his way to "cope with the stress of this job."

This morning the President would cover just four and a half miles -- two laps around the course in just over thirty-two minutes. Then it was back to his hotel suite and a quick shower before changing into the gray suit, blue shirt, and burgundy tie that had been spread out on the bed for him by an aide. Before he left, the President was given his daily intelligence briefing. The heightened threat of terrorism was mentioned this morning, as it had been nearly every morning since George W. Bush took office.

Nine hundred miles to the north, Laura Bush also started the day early. In her husband's absence, the job of taking Spot the English springer spaniel and their frisky black Scottish terrier Barney for their morning walk had fallen to the First Lady. Afterward, Laura returned to the second-floor family quarters for a quick breakfast with her in-laws. George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara had spent the night at the White House and were about to board a private jet bound for a speaking engagement in Minnesota.

Laura had always had an easy, comfortable relationship with the ex-president and his first lady, but now they rightly sensed their daughter-in-law was preoccupied. This morning, the former schoolteacher was going to appear before Senator Edward Kennedy's Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions to plead for more federal funding of early childhood education. She took even greater care than usual in picking out just the right wardrobe for the occasion: tailored red suit, a three-strand pearl necklace, matching pearl earrings.

Laura kissed her in-laws good-bye, checked her purse for the essentials ("lipstick, hairbrush, Altoids"), then headed for the White House limousine waiting to take her to Capitol Hill. It was, she said to no one in particular as she stepped out into the brilliant September sunshine, "a beautiful day, just beautiful." But as she walked the few steps toward the car, a member of her Secret Service detail took her aside to tell her he was getting some disturbing news over his earpiece. Something terrible had just happened in New York ...

The presidential motorcade was making the twenty-minute trip from the Colony to Emma E. Booker Elementary School when Press Secretary Ari Fleischer's pager went off. There were early reports that a plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers of New York's World Trade Center just minutes before, at 8:48 A.M. President Bush had emerged from his car and was shaking hands with local officials standing outside the school when Chief of Staff Andrew Card sidled up to him with the news.

A terrible accident, Bush thought to himself as he walked into the gray-carpeted second grade classroom and, smiling broadly, took a seat to the immediate left of the teacher. Scrawled on the blackboard behind him was the slogan "Reading Makes a Country Great!" Less than twenty-four hours before, the President had been cheered at Jacksonville's Justina Elementary School as he declared "war on illiteracy." Sarasota was the second stop on a whirlwind tour of the Southeast to promote his administration's "Putting Reading First" initiative, and to muster support for an education bill that had stalled in Congress.

The eighteen students seated in two rows before him had just begun to take turns reading aloud a story about a goat when Card reappeared. He walked to the head of the classroom, leaned down, and whispered in the President's right ear. "A second plane has just hit the World Trade Center," he said. "America is under attack."

The President, sitting with his legs crossed and his hands folded in his lap, was intensely aware of the television cameras that were recording his every expression. "I have nobody to talk to," he thought to himself as he tried to absorb it all in an instant. "My God, I'm Commander-in-Chief and the country has just come under attack!"

There was no way he could conceal his feelings of shock and dismay at the horrible news. There was a fleeting look of panic in the President's eyes as Card stepped back. "It was a surreal moment," Card later said. "It was immediately obvious that it was neither an accident nor a coincidence."

But without all the facts at hand, George Bush had no intention of upsetting the schoolchildren who had come to read for him. The rest of the children's story about the goat did not register with him at all, but the President, raising his eyebrows and nodding, interrupted the second graders to praise them. "Really good readers, whew!" Bush told the class. "This must be sixth grade."

At the end of each chapter, the students read the line "more to come," and at one point the President asked them if they knew what that meant. "Something is happening!" several excitedly replied in unison. Something is happening ...

George and Laura
Portrait of an American Marriage
. Copyright © by Christopher Andersen. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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George and Laura: Portrait of an American Marriage 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I see a pattern to Chris Anderson books. If you are left of center, he will find everything possible wrong with you. If you right of center, nothing but positives are written about you. Please, anyone who wants to learn more about our past and presents elected officials, try to read from non-biased authors that at least try to write objectively.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am not real big on reading - but after reading this book I will start reading again. Once I started reading this book I found it very hard to put down. The book was very interesting and I enjoyed learning about the early lifes of Laura and George Bush. Yes indeed, they do make a wonderful couple - they look like, like the author said, when they look at each other at times and their eyes meet, they know what the other one is thinking! I took off from work the day of the inauguartion and watched the events from morning to night and never got tired of it. Also, I ordered the whole inauguration (the days events) on dvd's from CSPAN - I plan to watch them over and over again. Again, I think they make a wonderful couple and I enjoyed reading about them both, infact, I hope they come out with more books about them. I do admire both of them and wish them both, plus their two daughters, the best of luck the next four years and when they head home to Texas. Also, I am so glad that Laura straightened George out, he seems like a very nice and intelligent guy and sometimes, it just takes a woman to straighten a man out!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked this book up at a local Barnes & Noble at an incredible price and wish I would have bought them all! What a great Christmas gift for those that love the President and the First Lady. I couldn't put this book down. The author has input from individuals that are close to the First Couple, which gives insight into their lives that made me feel like I was part of the family from the perspective of what was revealed. An excellent book!