Bush's memoir recounts what others remember
George W. Bush's Decision Points was billed as offering "gripping" account of his time in the White House. Now it appears it's not so much the former president's memoirs as other people's cut and pasted memories, a media report said today.books Updated: Nov 16, 2010 13:39 IST
Bush's account is littered with anecdotes seemingly ripped off from other books and articles, even borrowing without attribution - some might say plagiarising - from critical accounts the White House had previously denounced as inaccurate, the Guardian reported, quoting the Huffington Post.
The Huffington Post noted a remarkable similarity between previously published writings and Bush's colourful anecdotes from events at which he had not been present.
Bush borrows heavily from Bob Woodward's account Bush at War, which the White House criticised as inaccurate when it was published in 2002.
He also appears to take chunks from a book written by his former press secretary Ari Fleischer.
Bush recounts a meeting between Hamid Karzai and a Tajik warlord on the Afghan president's inauguration day, which he used as an example of hope for the future of the country.
The former president writes: "When Karzai arrived in Kabul for his inauguration Dec 22 - 102 days after 9/11 - several Northern Alliance leaders and their bodyguards greeted him at an airport."
"As Karzai walked across the tarmac alone, a stunned Tajik warlord asked where all his men were."
"Karzai responded: 'Why, General, you are my men. All of you who are Afghans are my men.'"
The Huffington Post notes that the account and the quote are lifted almost verbatim and without attribution from a New York Review of Books article by Ahmed Rashid.
Bush also lifts a quote from an interview John McCain gave to the Washington Post on Iraq and then presents it as though McCain had said it to him.
Even where Bush is present and is quoting himself, he appears to have had his memory jogged by the accounts of others without finding much to add.
Many of the borrowed lines are taken from Woodward's Bush at War, with the former president's accounts of meetings bearing a striking similarity to Woodward's.
Bush's publisher has suggested that only confirms the accuracy of Decision Points. Others have suggested it is a reflection of two traits the former president was often criticised for - lack of original thought and laziness.
Bush also quotes Woodward's writings almost word for word in places. Where Woodward writes: "The second option combined cruise missiles with manned bomber attacks," Bush says: "The second option was to combine cruise missile strikes with manned bomber attacks."
And where Woodward's book says: "The third and most robust option was cruise missiles, bombers and what the planners had taken to calling 'boots on the ground'," Bush says: "The third and most aggressive option was to employ cruise missiles, bombers and boots on the ground."
Bush manages to remember exactly the same shouts as Woodward does from the crowd at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks - "Do not let me down!" and "Whatever it takes" - even though there must have been a slew of them.
He appears to have borrowed from the memoirs of Fleischer in relating an anecdote about a hospital visit to meet injured survivors of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon.
First Published: Nov 15, 2010 20:34 IST