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The Family

Cover of The Family

The Family

The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty

From the First Lady of unauthorized, tell-all biography, this is the first real inside-look at the most powerful--and secretive--family in the world. From Senator Prescott Bush's alcoholism, to his son George Herbert Walker Bush's infidelities, to George Walker Bush's religious conversion, shady financial deals, and military manipulations, Kitty Kelley captures the portrait of a family that has whitewashed its own story almost out of existence.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From the First Lady of unauthorized, tell-all biography, this is the first real inside-look at the most powerful--and secretive--family in the world. From Senator Prescott Bush's alcoholism, to his son George Herbert Walker Bush's infidelities, to George Walker Bush's religious conversion, shady financial deals, and military manipulations, Kitty Kelley captures the portrait of a family that has whitewashed its own story almost out of existence.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Excerpts-
  • Chapter ONE CHAPTER ONE


    Flora Sheldon Bush was fuming. Her thirteen-year-old son, Prescott, was supposed to have spent that August of 1908 at a New Jersey sports resort with a classmate and his family. Flora's husband, Samuel Prescott Bush, had sent the boy there to play tennis, while Flora, their two daughters, Mary and Margaret, their younger son, Jim, Samuel's mother, Harriet, and the family nanny were spending the month at the East Bay Lodge in Osterville, Massachusetts. But Prescott had abruptly been sent home by his friend's mother, Mrs. Dods. Flora's regal mother-in-law, Harriet Fay Bush, urged her to demand an explanation and an apology from Mrs. Dods, but Flora, whose social instincts were unerring in these matters, restrained herself. "I am not ready for that," she wrote to her husband. "I think I may hear from Mrs. D. and if so, you must forward the letter . . . for nothing has ever happened that raised my indignation more than her summary dismissal of Prescott."

    A few days later Flora again mentioned her vexation: "Your mother is quite sure I ought to write Mrs. Dods. It scarcely seems right. I resent it all more than anything I have experienced."

    The unexpected change in Prescott's plans upset his father, who worried that the incident might have been Prescott's fault. If so, that might affect his acceptance into St. George's School in the fall. But after hearing her son's side of the story, Flora tried to assure her husband that the youngster was not entirely to blame:


    I am sorry you are disappointed in Prescott and yet I am not surprised. He is of course a boy of very tender years. And I sometimes have a feeling of great dread at sending him away to school and yet I do feel that the strict discipline may be just the thing. He was glad to get back to us again but he misses his sport at Osterville—There are no tennis courts here but poor grass ones—he said if he had his clubs he would play golf.


    The matter of Prescott's departure was finally cleared up when Samuel telegrammed Flora that the much-maligned Mrs. Dods had indeed written to explain herself. Samuel forwarded the letter from Ohio, and Flora was almost comforted to learn that Mrs. Dods had taken ill in New Jersey. "It was the only excuse I could possibly have accepted," she wrote. "Her letter was as satisfactory as anything could be + while I do not justify the haste I at least can appreciate her anxiety to get rid of the young company—as summer cottages are not the quiet hospitals one needs in case of illness."

    A few days later, Prescott received his golf clubs. And Samuel must have been somewhat reassured to receive a letter from his seventy-nine-year-old mother extolling the teenager, if not without reservation:


    I was much impressed with Prescott's appearance and manner as he jumped out of the carriage + came to speak to me—he is a handsome boy + a well developed figure for [illegible] growth. I trust the time will soon come when he will—if I can use the word—slough off the pernicious habit of fooling. If I had not seen its results in Aunt Virginia's family perhaps it would not seem to be so fraught with danger, but with you and Flora to guard him and the uniform discipline of a school he will doubtless find its disadvantages himself. It makes friends with the boys but antagonizes the teachers as I also know by personal experience but little can be done except . . . protect him until he is wise enough to check it.


    Grandmother Bush was more perceptive than perhaps even she could have realized. Her grandson's "pernicious habit of fooling" was something that would remain with him for years. At...
About the Author-
  • Kitty Kelley is the internationally acclaimed bestselling author of Jackie Oh!; Elizabeth Taylor: The Last Star; His Way: The Unauthorized Biography of Frank Sinatra; Nancy Reagan: The Unauthorized Biography; and The Royals. The last three titles were all #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. Ms. Kelley has been honored by her peers with such awards as the Outstanding Author Award from the American Society of Jouranlists and Authors, the Philip M. Stern Award, and the Medal of Merit from the Lotos Club of New York City. Her articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, People, Ladies Home Journal, McCall's, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her physician husband, Jonathan Zucker.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 1, 2004
    Although hardly the most authoritative or the most carefully written, Kelley's history of the Bush family nonetheless ranks among the most important books of the 2004 political season. A large part of Kelley's influence comes, of course, from the success of her previous celebrity biographies, among them Jackie Oh!, The Royals and Elizabeth Taylor. But another part comes from her willingness to commit rumors to paper--in other words, to share DC cocktail-party gossip with the masses. Her book will come under a lot of fire for this practice, and with some reason. Many of her most incendiary comments--that Laura Bush was once a "go-to girl for dime bags," that George W. Bush snorted cocaine at Camp David--do appear to be poorly sourced. And as the book progresses from the 1860s to the 2000s, her moderate tone often rises with vividly expressed disgust and indignation. But readers who take Kelley's dishy allegations with a grain of salt will still find plenty of hard evidence to support her portrayal of the Bush family's political opportunism, economic privilege and shrewd flip-flopping. Case in point: when George H.W. Bush was chosen as Reagan's running mate in 1980, he suddenly "dropped his support of the Equal Rights Amendment and vehemently changed his position on abortion." Kelley also takes shots at Democrats Edward Kennedy, Lloyd Bentsen and Lyndon Johnson, and generally laments what she sees as the Republican Party's turn to the far right. But, overall, her real issues appear to be the same as in her previous books: the abuse of power, the adoption of a false public image, the secreting away of sexual and pharmaceutical peccadilloes. With its focus on these juicy issues, and its occasional nuggets of serious political history, Kelley's book is sure to gratify her many fans.

  • The New York Times Book Review "This is a story of power, sex and betrayal--but mostly of power."
  • The New York Times "A thoroughly researched piece of work. Ms. Kelley clearly devoured and digested the extant literature on the family."
  • The Washington Post Book World "Kelley's account of the rise and fall of the Bush family is both inspirational and cautionary. She convincingly shows that good looks, energy, athleticism, ambition, felicitous marriages and social networking can compensate for intellectual ordinariness."
  • The New York Times Book Review "The Family . . . has left few stones unturned. . . . Kelley has brought new information to bear on a family that, for better or worse, deserves her kind of royal treatment."
  • Garry Trudeau, The Charlie Rose Show "A sweeping indictment of the mind-set of the [Bush] family, that they grew up feeling that this was their due."
  • Newsday "Despite the best efforts of the media, the public is gaining insight into their president as the facts leak out and as Kitty Kelley's The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty, tops the sales chart."
  • The Guardian "Kelley nails the evidence and, although the secretive Bush family will not like it, demonstrates beyond doubt what the American press dared not print."
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