The Last Republicans
A groundbreaking look at the lives of George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, the most consequential father-son pair in American history, often in their own words. In this endearing, illuminating work, presidential historian Mark K. Updegrove tracks the two Bush presidents from their formative years through their post-presidencies and the failed presidential candidacy of Jeb Bush, derailing the Bush presidential dynasty. Drawing extensively on exclusive access and interviews with both Bush presidents, Updegrove reveals for the first time their influences and perspectives on each other’s presidencies; their views on family, public service, and America’s role in the world; and their unvarnished thoughts on Donald Trump, and the radical transformation of the Republican Party he now leads.In 2016 George W. Bush lamented privately that he might be “the last Republican president.” Donald Trump’s election marked the end not only to the Bushes’ hold on the White House, but of a rejection of the Republican principles of civility and international engagement and leadership that the Bushes have long championed.The Last Republicans offers revealing and often moving portraits of the forty-first and forty-third presidents, as well as an elegy for the Republican “establishment,” which once stood for putting the interests of the nation over those of any single man.

The Last Republicans Details

TitleThe Last Republicans
Author
ReleaseNov 14th, 2017
PublisherHarper
Rating
GenrePolitics, Biography, Nonfiction, History

The Last Republicans Review

  • Jean
    January 1, 1970
    I have read a number of books about the Bush family. This duel biography does not cover any new information but attempts to show the relationship between father and son.The book is well written and is meticulously researched. I appreciated that Updegrove organized the book chronologically; it made it so much easier to read. The author interviewed both men as well as other family members and colleagues. Updegrove also had access to diaries as well as the normal documents in various archives. Upde I have read a number of books about the Bush family. This duel biography does not cover any new information but attempts to show the relationship between father and son.The book is well written and is meticulously researched. I appreciated that Updegrove organized the book chronologically; it made it so much easier to read. The author interviewed both men as well as other family members and colleagues. Updegrove also had access to diaries as well as the normal documents in various archives. Updegrove discussed the family values which are make your money and then give back to society via public service. The author stressed the family values and ambitions. I enjoyed reading the book.I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book is fourteen and a half hours. Milton Jeffers does an excellent job narrating the book. Jeffers has an easy to listen to voice.
    more
  • Riva Sciuto
    January 1, 1970
    The era of Donald Trump brings new meaning to the indelible legacies of America's last Republican presidents, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Commonly known as '41' and '43' -- together as '84' -- this is their story. And historian Mark Updegrove tells it marvelously. This book not only chronicles the major milestones and challenges of each man's presidency; it sheds light on the unique relationship between the two former presidents. "At its heart, theirs is a love story," Updegrove writes. The era of Donald Trump brings new meaning to the indelible legacies of America's last Republican presidents, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Commonly known as '41' and '43' -- together as '84' -- this is their story. And historian Mark Updegrove tells it marvelously. This book not only chronicles the major milestones and challenges of each man's presidency; it sheds light on the unique relationship between the two former presidents. "At its heart, theirs is a love story," Updegrove writes. "But it is far more." And indeed it is: it is a story that marks two historic presidencies: one beginning with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War; another marked by the unprecedented tragedy of 9/11 and the War on Terror that followed it. Updegrove recalls the historic challenges both Bushes faced: 41's Gulf War, tax hikes, and his devastating loss to Bill Clinton in 1992; and 43's decision to go to war in Iraq, the criticism he faced over his response to Hurricane Katrina, and the financial collapse that marred the final year of his presidency. Despite it all -- despite the public vitriol, the campaign rhetoric, and the plunging approval ratings with which they each grappled -- the two man gave each other unconditional support, guidance, and love. As a lover of presidential history, I appreciated the historical context throughout this book, particularly in the characteristic differences between the Bushes and the first (and only other) father and son presidents, John Adams and John Quincy Adams. Updegrove brilliantly weaves in relevant comparisons, notably highlighting the unique nature of Bush 41 and 43 insofar as the former was alive to witness the entirety of 43's presidency. John Adams died only 15 months after his son, John Quincy Adams, assumed the presidency in 1825, so their relationship was not marked by the some father/son mentorship the Bushes had while 43 served the same office his father had years before. In these pages, Updegrove captures not only the historic nature of this accomplishment, but the uniqueness and importance of such a relationship. The book ends with a reminder that only history can effectively judge a president's legacy. Updegrove writes, "It takes at least a generation to assess a president's legacy with any degree of objectivity," noting that Harry Truman left office with a 34% approval rating due to the War in Korea, Lyndon Johnson departed with the "dark cloud of Vietnam," and Ronald Reagan was viewed by the public in 1989 as a "below average" president. "For the legacy of each," the author writes, "time offered perspective ... after the myopia of contemporaneous appraisal." And the Bushes are no exception. Time has already offered us perspective on both of their presidencies, particularly in the context of today's inflammatory and vicious political discourse. This book reminds us that whether we agreed with their decisions or not, they both did what they believed was right with the information they had at the time. They did so with integrity, honesty, and decency -- and always with unconditional love for each other. Four stars + a deeper appreciation for principled politicians.
    more
  • Conor O'brien
    January 1, 1970
    This fascinating insight into the relationship between George H.W. Bush otherwise known as 41 and George W. Bush otherwise known as 43 is inspiring. It shows you that while both I may disagree with them politically. However as gentleman and as humans are exceedingly decent men. Men who made exceedingly difficult decisions that were not always popular but what they thought necessary. It shows a Bush family that is tight knit and that love each other deeply without fear of emotion. Loyalty to the This fascinating insight into the relationship between George H.W. Bush otherwise known as 41 and George W. Bush otherwise known as 43 is inspiring. It shows you that while both I may disagree with them politically. However as gentleman and as humans are exceedingly decent men. Men who made exceedingly difficult decisions that were not always popular but what they thought necessary. It shows a Bush family that is tight knit and that love each other deeply without fear of emotion. Loyalty to the family is important to them. George H.W. Bush was and still is a beacon of civility, character and strength including accomplishments as president. 43 is tougher to say about his accomplishments, but as a man he is humble and honorable. In addition, his paintings are quite good. I never will forget his response after 9/11. It was his finest hour. I also will remember that 41 was the one that signed the Americans with Disabilities Act that provided relief for me and many others like me. Overall, whether you love them or hate them both, these men are not only worthy of respect and recognition , the family will be talked about in political history for many years to come.
    more
  • Ryan K. Callender
    January 1, 1970
    Two stars because of the stale content...nothing to do with my personal politics. I've read several books about both men, this book contains nothing new. In fact, it should be advertised as a summary of the Meacham book on H.W. and Decision Points (W's "memoir"). Despite its title, it has very little to do with explaining why these two men are/were the "last republicans." The title is dubious and the content is stale. Very disappointing. However, if you haven't read anything on either of these m Two stars because of the stale content...nothing to do with my personal politics. I've read several books about both men, this book contains nothing new. In fact, it should be advertised as a summary of the Meacham book on H.W. and Decision Points (W's "memoir"). Despite its title, it has very little to do with explaining why these two men are/were the "last republicans." The title is dubious and the content is stale. Very disappointing. However, if you haven't read anything on either of these men, I suppose it might be worth your while to read this book.
    more
  • Ray
    January 1, 1970
    "The Last Republicans" provides an intimate look at President George H.W. Bush (#41) and his son, George W. Bush (#43). This is not an expose` in any way, and many of the more controversial events and actions of the Bush Presidents are glossed over. Many people think of the senior Bush as growing up with a silver spoon in his mouth, privileged and pampered, and of the junior Bush as bumbling businessman who would have never succeeded without the family connections and influence. That may not be "​The Last Republicans​" provides an intimate look at President George H.W. Bush (#41) and his son, George W. Bush (#43). This is not an expose` in any way, and many of the more controversial events and actions of the Bush Presidents are glossed over. Many people think of the senior Bush as growing up with a silver spoon in his mouth, privileged and pampered, and of the junior Bush as bumbling businessman who would have never succeeded without the family connections and influence. That may not be too far fetched, but Mark Updegrove gives a fuller description of their backgrounds and upbringing, and gives the reader a different and more favorable perspective. Updegrove did an especially good job of changing the widely-held perspective of the younger Bush President. Few Presidents, perhaps other than Richard Nixon who resigned in disgrace, left office with a lower approval rating than Bush #43. Despite the low approval rating at the end of his Presidency, Updegrove presents "W" as a sincere and likeable man, more nuanced and brighter than how he was perceived in December, 2008. ​Less surprisingly, George H. W.​ B​ush is shown to truly be a man of principle, dedicated to serving his Nation, and a strong family leader. ​The book highlights the closeness of the extended Bush family, and shows how supportive the family has always been. ​Left unsaid, but implied in the book's title, is that these men may be the last of their kind. Many now feel that the current direction of the Republican Party has tilted from the Bush principled conservatism and the family lifelong desire to serve their Nation for the good of all, toward a less inclusive, more divisive path, with the faces of the Party now represented by leaders such as Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, ​Roy Moore, ​Ted Cruz​, etc. Those who prefer the G.O.P. of the past few decades should enjoy this ​generous and positive ​look back at the Bush family.
    more
  • Yaaresse
    January 1, 1970
    I thought this might be a chance to knock two presidential biographies off my list at the same time. Considering I nodded off twice trying to get through the sample--in the middle of the day and after a huge mug of coffee, no less--I'm taking a pass. I don't think it was the content so much as the writing.
    more
  • Wanda Keith
    January 1, 1970
    If you are looking for a good book to give your father for Father's Day you couldn't find one better than 'The Last Republicans'. This book is a story of a remarkable love story between a father and his son. What is so amazing is that the father and son just happened to be the 41st and 43rd presidents of the United States. I have read practically every book about the Bush clan so there was nothing in this book that I had not already read yet I still found the book to be well written and enjoyed If you are looking for a good book to give your father for Father's Day you couldn't find one better than 'The Last Republicans'. This book is a story of a remarkable love story between a father and his son. What is so amazing is that the father and son just happened to be the 41st and 43rd presidents of the United States. I have read practically every book about the Bush clan so there was nothing in this book that I had not already read yet I still found the book to be well written and enjoyed they way the story centered around the relationship between father and son. Many main stream media folks are making a big deal out of Bush 41 calling Trump a "Blowhard" in the book and the fact that neither Bush voted for Trump and they are missing all of the good parts of the book. Actually, Updegrove gives very little time to Trump in this book. When you read how close this family is and how they support each other through thick and thin it is really no surprise that they don't like Trump. After all, Trump trashed talked their son and brother, Jeb, who they thought should be the 45th president. Updegrove does tell us that Jeb's son, George P. did support Trump in the election. There has been much said about both '41 and '43 and their presidencies but like '43 has said, "History will judge us". George H. W. Bush, '41, has already been vindicated and his policies now seen as having been the best thing for our country. George W., '43, has yet to see his policies totally vindicated and he says he is ok with that. Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, or even if you just don't care, you will enjoy this book. Updegrove is a very strong liberal so if he can write such a positive book about two old Republicans then that it itself is worth the read.
    more
  • Scott Martin
    January 1, 1970
    If there was a 3.5 star option, I would go with that one. It is a solid read/listen focusing on the lives of the 41st and 43rd Presidents. The main focus of the work is on the political fortunes of both father and son, primarily looking at the years 1980-2008, when George H.W. Bush was Vice-President/President and George W. Bush was working as one of his father's primary political advisory. There is some cursory discussions about the personal lives of both men, just enough to offer some backgrou If there was a 3.5 star option, I would go with that one. It is a solid read/listen focusing on the lives of the 41st and 43rd Presidents. The main focus of the work is on the political fortunes of both father and son, primarily looking at the years 1980-2008, when George H.W. Bush was Vice-President/President and George W. Bush was working as one of his father's primary political advisory. There is some cursory discussions about the personal lives of both men, just enough to offer some background and insight. What many readers might find surprising is how much G.W. Bush was a factor in the political fortunes of his father in the 1980s, integrating himself into the various campaigns and political affairs of his father. While it might have appeared that G. W. Bush only first burst on the scene when he upset Anne Richards for the governorship of Texas, he was a long-time political figure. Admittedly, G.W. Bush struggled to establish his identity separate from his father, and G.H.W. Bush did try to let his son be his own man, helping behind the scenes as much as possible. Updegrove takes a more positive view of G.H.W. Bush, but is somewhat mixed about G.W. Bush, especially since his presidential legacy is still being formulated. Of course, the work can't help but discuss 2016 and the political struggles facing Donald Trump. As the title suggest, there is a sense of longing for the days of G.H.W Bush, or even G.W. Bush compared to what the Republican Party faces now. Perhaps it could go into more details on certain policy actions and the interactions of the family, but it is a solid overview of the "Bush Dynasty". The narrator does a good job with the material. Overall, worth the read/listen.
    more
  • Michael Springer
    January 1, 1970
    This intimate, accessible biography of the immediately preceding two Republican presidents is really a story of unconditional love between a father and a son. Poppy Bush had a wonderful role model in his own father, former US Senator Prescott Bush, and he passed on certain values and behaviors to his own children. Though his background was patrician, he was not a remote man and was devoted to his children. George W,, the eldest, was a son of Texas, different from his father in many ways (more li This intimate, accessible biography of the immediately preceding two Republican presidents is really a story of unconditional love between a father and a son. Poppy Bush had a wonderful role model in his own father, former US Senator Prescott Bush, and he passed on certain values and behaviors to his own children. Though his background was patrician, he was not a remote man and was devoted to his children. George W,, the eldest, was a son of Texas, different from his father in many ways (more like his mom it seems), but he lived by the same principles of service and devotion to family. As the two men shared a bond that only one other father-and-son pair in history had shared (John Adams and John Quincy Adams) -- occupying the Oval Office -- their connection deepened over time.The 'Last Republican' angle is catchy but not essential to the story. George H.W. Bush is a deeply respected president today because he embodied certain qualities -- civility, decency, respect -- that are sadly out of fashion today (and which, ironically, kept a third Bush, Jeb. from being a viable presidential candidate). One need not dislike President Trump to appreciate that his Republican forebears were good and decent men who were devoted to serving the country.
    more
  • Trey Grayson
    January 1, 1970
    I’ve been wanting to read this book since I met the author during a visit to the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum in Fall 2012 when I was the Harvard IOP Director. I was in town to speak at UT-Austin, and he gave me a behind he scenes tour. (Yes, I ate BBQ at Franklin and went to a UT football game too.). During the tour, he shared that 41 and 43 had agreed to his request for cooperation on a book. It was well worth the five year wait. The Bush family’s passion for service and love of family I’ve been wanting to read this book since I met the author during a visit to the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum in Fall 2012 when I was the Harvard IOP Director. I was in town to speak at UT-Austin, and he gave me a behind he scenes tour. (Yes, I ate BBQ at Franklin and went to a UT football game too.). During the tour, he shared that 41 and 43 had agreed to his request for cooperation on a book. It was well worth the five year wait. The Bush family’s passion for service and love of family and friends stand out. It’s also fascinating to better understand 43 and the relationship between father and son. Between interviews with friends and family, as well as family letters (and faxes - 41 used to fax notes to 43 while 43 was President!), you get a real sense of the relationship and its impact.Updegrove also does a great job of explaining why 43 is so much more Texan than the other members of his family. Definitely worth a read, even for those who don’t like their politics.
    more
  • Anne
    January 1, 1970
    Had this book been laid out as a novel, the reader would think that the primary antagonist would be Bill Clinton, but in a plot twist, it is revealed Clinton would not be the ire of the Bush clan, and in fact would be embraced by them as de facto family in later years. The true antagonist, mentioned in passing (although the mention indicated the significance of the "Character"), was revealed at the end of the story, was President Trump. I didn't learn anything new about the Bushes in the book, b Had this book been laid out as a novel, the reader would think that the primary antagonist would be Bill Clinton, but in a plot twist, it is revealed Clinton would not be the ire of the Bush clan, and in fact would be embraced by them as de facto family in later years. The true antagonist, mentioned in passing (although the mention indicated the significance of the "Character"), was revealed at the end of the story, was President Trump. I didn't learn anything new about the Bushes in the book, but it was a good read. It flowed well and covered all the major events of their lives with brevity and eloquence.As the Epilogue indicates, the Bush lineage, with another George (P.) may be the next Bush to attain a high office. But, will the Republican party ever be the same post-Trump?
    more
  • Abbey
    January 1, 1970
    I'm nervous to give a book about Republicans 5 stars in this day and age, but I honestly really enjoyed this and learned so much. It's well written and easy to read. Though far from objective, this book does go out of its way to call out questionable choices each of these presidents made and the backlash of those decisions. More than this, though, Updegrove presents the Georges Bush as people, as human beings just trying to do their best for their country. Having grown up in the late 90s and ear I'm nervous to give a book about Republicans 5 stars in this day and age, but I honestly really enjoyed this and learned so much. It's well written and easy to read. Though far from objective, this book does go out of its way to call out questionable choices each of these presidents made and the backlash of those decisions. More than this, though, Updegrove presents the Georges Bush as people, as human beings just trying to do their best for their country. Having grown up in the late 90s and early 00s, I knew nothing about HW and only surface level, media-fueled disdain for W before reading this book. I appreciated a human, respectful perspective. This book is a pleasant reminder of Republican presidents who were flawed, yes, but also genuine people who tried to put peace, family, and country above personal gain. I hope one day the party can come back to this.
    more
  • Stephen
    January 1, 1970
    The distinctive feature of this book is access- the author spent time with both President Bushes and their friends and family, also having access to many letters and diary entries that I hadn't seen elsewhere. This results in an account that dives deep into the feelings and motivations of both 41 and 43 in ways even Decision Points didn't do for 43 in spite of him writing it. It does breeze over some aspects of their history about which I would have expected more coverage, such as 43's primary b The distinctive feature of this book is access- the author spent time with both President Bushes and their friends and family, also having access to many letters and diary entries that I hadn't seen elsewhere. This results in an account that dives deep into the feelings and motivations of both 41 and 43 in ways even Decision Points didn't do for 43 in spite of him writing it. It does breeze over some aspects of their history about which I would have expected more coverage, such as 43's primary battle with McCain in 1999/2000 and the entire 2004 election. A few key figures are entirely missing, e.g. David Petraeus, but others are well covered, e.g. Dick Cheney. It reads pretty quickly, with clear but not overly simplistic language. Recommended, especially in the arguably post-Republican presidency of Trump.
    more
  • Chelsea Cruse
    January 1, 1970
    I know that I’m biased, but this story of the relationship between 41 and 43 was absolutely wonderful. Whether you agreed with their policies, this books shows the decency and humility of these men. This book will make you see that while their politics may not have always been ideal in some people’s minds, these two men were GOOD men who loved their country. Every decision these two Presidents made were made with purpose, courage, and were done with the best of intentions. They worked for a “kin I know that I’m biased, but this story of the relationship between 41 and 43 was absolutely wonderful. Whether you agreed with their policies, this books shows the decency and humility of these men. This book will make you see that while their politics may not have always been ideal in some people’s minds, these two men were GOOD men who loved their country. Every decision these two Presidents made were made with purpose, courage, and were done with the best of intentions. They worked for a “kinder, gentler nation” and showed what it means to be a conservative and also have compassion. I miss that. I would recommend this to anyone, Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative. #crusebooks2018 #book6 #thelastrepublicans
    more
  • Clara Roberts
    January 1, 1970
    After seeing the low character of the Clintons, Obama, and Trump this book was a refreshing reminder that for twelve years this country was lead by prudent, steadfast, and thoughtful men. No matter the cost the Bushes were able to put the welfare of the American people first. They both had a vibrant faith in God and possessed an optimistic view of life. When opposed they never saw race or vulgarity as a reason for opposition. Looking at what came after them I think history will treat them well. After seeing the low character of the Clintons, Obama, and Trump this book was a refreshing reminder that for twelve years this country was lead by prudent, steadfast, and thoughtful men. No matter the cost the Bushes were able to put the welfare of the American people first. They both had a vibrant faith in God and possessed an optimistic view of life. When opposed they never saw race or vulgarity as a reason for opposition. Looking at what came after them I think history will treat them well. This over 400 page book even had a small section on the up and coming George P. Bush.
    more
  • Sam Kneisley
    January 1, 1970
    Thoroughly enjoyed this look into the relationship between ‘41’ and ‘43’ as the author took an in depth look at both their backgrounds, and the moments that came to define them as presidents, men, and family. While sailing over the wrinkles of each of their presidencies, this book isn’t meant as an expose, but of the bond of father and son, and the unique ties that these two share. It was a great read, and a fantastic way to start out my 2018 reading list.
    more
  • John
    January 1, 1970
    This book is good, not great. If you’ve read biographies of both Bushes there is little new information here. I was expecting the book to provide more analysis about the state of the modern Republican Party versus how it looked during the Bush presidencies. Instead, it is a straight combined bio of both presidents. If you have read bios of both Bushes before, you won’t miss much by skipping this one.
    more
  • Neil Evans
    January 1, 1970
    It’s sugar coated. Author says GW Bush’s biggest existential dilemma after graduating from Yale (which he got into because his relative was on Brd of Trustees ), was whether to become a millionaire in finance by going to Wall Street or in oil by joining his family’s business in West Texas. Really tough life choices for the Bush leaguers. He also says: JEB was robbed of the 2016 Republican nomination by “insurgents” in the party!
    more
  • Troy
    January 1, 1970
    Assumed this would be more of a reflection on the shift of the Republican Party toward Trumpism and possible ways forward for the Party. The penultimate chapter has some good content on that, but ultimately the rest of the book is just a biographical of 41 and 42, their relationship and careers. It also, frankly, provides good perspective on where so called 'establishment Republicanism' has come from since Reagan.
    more
  • Ralph Cooper
    January 1, 1970
    Liked Updegrove's writing and the book flowed smoothly thru the decades and the Presidential years for '41 and '43.> http://markupdegrove.com/NY Times Review> https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/04/us...
  • Dean
    January 1, 1970
    Can be read as an obituary of what was the Grand Ole Party. I left the Republican Party after 43's first term. So the its demise I believe began before Trump. Glad to be in the proud company of 41 in not voting for Trump. He voted for Hilary. 43 abstained. I voted for neither Hilary or Trump.
    more
  • Matthew
    January 1, 1970
    Sort of "The Bushes For Beginners," the book eschews analyzing much of the deeper aspects of the Bushes' policies and personalities in favor of taking a thousand-foot view of their father-son relationship, set against a fairly straightforward historical tick-tock of each man's presidency.
    more
  • Chris Carson
    January 1, 1970
    Not meant as a comprehensive biography of the two ex Presidents, it delivers a great peak behind the scenes of a father and son - our first since the Adams - to serve. Enjoyed the fluid nature of the storytelling and the interesting ‘behind the scenes’ stories. Highly recommended.
    more
  • Courtney
    January 1, 1970
    Not a great book, but not bad either. Just a very basic book about the two presidents Bush. If you are new to the Bushes, this is your book, if you are not and you are looking for depth, look elsewhere.
  • Connor
    January 1, 1970
    Puff piece, poorly penned. On page 374 the author submits the questionable proposition that Bush 43 actually had wanted to increase regulation of the financial sector before 2008, so the crisis wasn't really his fault.
  • Steve Henry
    January 1, 1970
    More than a political tome, this is a fascinating story of the relationship between father and son. Of course there is a healthy dose of politics in the pages but the backdrop is often how the relationship influenced those political decisions.
  • Charles Cameron
    January 1, 1970
    An excellent book which yields enlightening insights into the presidencies of 41 and especially 43.
  • LLOYD F JENKINS
    January 1, 1970
    Very interesting look at the deep sense of family shared by the Bushes.
  • Michael Kelley
    January 1, 1970
    A wonderful book that puts the relationship between father and son in perspective. Regardless of political affiliation it is a book about family and service.
  • Lupine Smile
    January 1, 1970
    I you have not read anything about either of the Bush Presidents, then this will likely be a 4 star rating, but for me this was a rehash of books that have already been written.
Write a review