George W Bush: the booze, the family and relaxing with books
George W Bush, the former US president, has launched his memoirs and given a series of interviews, which provide deep insights into his personal life.
"One of the toughest decisions I have ever made," he said. "Being the sober guy helped me realise how mindless I must have sounded when I drank." The key decision came, he wrote, after his wife Laura asked him if he could remember the last day he had gone without alcohol. He insisted he could but then realised he had drunk every day for a week: "I went on racking my memory for a single dry day over the past few weeks; then the past month; then longer. I could not remember one. Drinking had become a habit." The morning after his 40th birthday celebrations, he went for a jog on a "mean hangover" and vowed never to drink again.
On parental forgiveness:
He wrote that his mother Barbara could be hot-tempered and he would be on the receiving end if he wanted to "smart off". He said he had his mouth washed out with soap "more than once" for being "smutty". and twice crashed cars when he became a legal driver at 14. "I poured vodka in the fishbowl and killed my little sister Doro's goldfish. At times I was surly, demanding and brash. Eventually their patient love affected me."
On his mother's miscarriage:
He drove Barbara Bush to hospital following a miscarriage "What I did for Mother that day was small but it was a big deal for me. It helped deepen the special bond between us." He said: "I never expected to see the remains of the foetus, which she had saved in a jar to bring to the hospital. I remember thinking: there was a human life, a little brother or sister."
Bush shows evidence that contradicts the stereotype of a hick cowboy: he won a competition with his adviser Karl Rove to get through the most history books in a year (110 to 95); read 14 biographies of Abraham Lincoln while in office; and ignored television entirely to spend more time reading. He said: "I found it fascinating to be reading history and making history."