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Being Poppy

A Portrait of George Herbert Walker Bush

About The Book

The most intimate portrait of GEORGE H. W. BUSH ever published George Herbert Walker Bush, the forty-first president of the United States and the patriarch of America’s most powerful political dynasty, never wrote a memoir. But bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Richard Ben Cramer took the full measure of President Bush in his thousand-page epic, What It Takes—one of the most influential and respected works of journalism and biography of the modern era.

Drawn from those pages and edited by Cramer shortly before he died, this book traces how seminal moments in President Bush’s life formed his character and foretold his legacy. The result is a loving portrait that remains as fresh, relevant, and insightful as the day it was first published.


Tell the truth, Bush wasn’t much for programs, one way or the other. It wasn’t that he wanted to do anything . . . except a good job. He wanted to be a Senator. . . . Just about the time he was thinking it over, about to announce his big move, there were stories in the paper—front page, it was awful!—about this little girl in the Houston public housing, sleeping on the floor, who’d got bitten by a rat! God, what a shame! . . . Bush didn’t think about a program for housing, or maybe calling that Councilman he helped to elect—propose a rat eradication plan! No, he called home, that afternoon:

“Bar . . . You think we could give that family our baby bed?”

And they did. That very evening, George came home, packed up that bed, and took it right over. —from Being Poppy

About The Author

Photo Credit:

Richard Ben Cramer (1950-2013) won the Pulitzer Prize for Middle East reporting in 1979. His journalism has appeared in TimeNewsweekThe New York Times MagazineEsquire, and Rolling Stone. He is the author of How Israel Lost: The Four Questions and the classic of modern American politics What It Takes: The Way to the White House.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (May 7, 2013)
  • Length: 192 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781476745411

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Raves and Reviews

“Truly groundbreaking . . . Still fresh after more than 20 years.”

– Chicago Tribune

"A classic."

– Margalit Fox, The New York Times

"Quite possibly the finest book on presidential politics ever written, combining meticulous reporting and compelling, at times soaringly lyrical, prose."

– Cleveland Plain Dealer

"What It Takes does for politicians what Tom Wolfe did for astronauts in The Right Stuff . . . an epic."

– Time

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