Cover image for George and Laura : portrait of an American marriage
George and Laura : portrait of an American marriage
Andersen, Christopher P.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow/HarperCollinsPublishers, 2002.
Physical Description:
xi, 307 pages ; 24 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E903.3 .A64 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
E903.3 .A64 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
E903.3 .A64 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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They would be called upon to lead a nation in one of its darkest hours -- but were they up to the task? He had been the wild, hard-drinking scion of one of America's premier political families. She was the school librarian with a warm smile and a tragic secret of her own. Yet after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, they rose to the challenge: He became the embodiment of America's fighting spirit and she assumed the role of "First Comforter" with effortless grace. Still, the true nature of their relationship has remained a mystery. Until now. In the style of his #1 New York Times bestsellers The Day Diana Died and The Day John Died, as well as his bestselling books about another President and First Lady, Jack and Jackie and Jackie After Jack, Christopher Andersen draws on important sources -- many speaking here for the first time -- to paint a vivid, sometimes startling, often inspiring portrait of America's First Couple. Among the intriguing insights and stunning revelations: Important new information about 9/11 and its aftermath -- including a gripping moment-by-moment account of how the President and First Lady coped as the horrific drama unfolded. The true extent of George W.'s drinking problem, the strains it put on his marriage, and the ultimatum that changed his life -- and the course of history. Their heartbreaking battle against infertility and how close Laura came to dying in childbirth. The early tragedies that shaped them, including the car crash caused by a teenage Laura that took the life of a former boyfriend -- and changed her life forever. Laura's surprising behind-the-scenes influence on U.S. policy -- foreign and domestic. The pressures of raising headstrong twin daughters in the glare of the media -- and how 9/11 has brought the Bushes and their children closer together than ever before. George and Laura is a compelling look at their unique partnership, and the courage, grace, and humor that defines it. It is a stirring wartime saga of triumph and tragedy and, above all, a uniquely American love story.

Author Notes

Christopher Andersen was born on May 26, 1949. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and joined the staff of Time Magazine as a contributing editor in 1969. He was the senior editor of People Magazine from 1974 to 1986. He has also written for numerous publications including The New York Times, The New York Daily News, Life, and Vanity Fair.

He has written over 25 books. His early nonfiction books range from psychology in The Name Game to true crime in The Serpent's Tooth to art collecting in The Best of Everything. He is best known for his biographies including Somewhere in Heaven: The Remarkable Love Story of Dana and Christopher Reeve, The Day John Died, Madonna Unauthorized, and These Few Precious Days: The Final Year of Jack with Jackie. He received the Joan's Legacy Award for excellence in journalism regarding lung cancer in 2008.

In 2016 Andersen's title Game of Crowns: Elizabeth, Camilla, Kate, and the Throne made the New York Time bestseller list.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Best-selling author lets us in on the nature of the First Couple's domestic situation.



September 11, 2001 A Tuesday He rolled out of bed just before 6 A.M. at Sarasota's Colony tennis resort, pulled on shorts and an old T-shirt, then laced up his favorite pair of frayed-at-the-edges, broken-in-to-perfection running shoes. Thirty minutes later, in the half-light of dawn, the President of the United States was pounding around the palm-lined perimeter of one of Longboat Key's most exclusive golf courses, trailed by puffing Secret Service agents. Richard Keil, White House correspondent for Bloomberg News and a former All-American distance runner, chatted with the President while they ran. "He was clipping along, and talking very comfortably," Keil recalled. "If you're not in real good shape and running that fast, you can't carry on a conversation." Running, George W. Bush explained, was his way to "cope with the stress of this job." This morning the President would cover just four and a half miles - two laps around the course in just over thirty-two minutes. Then it was back to his hotel suite and a quick shower before changing into the gray suit, blue shirt, and burgundy tie that had been spread out on the bed for him by an aide. Before he left, the President was given his daily intelligence briefing. The heightened threat of terrorism was mentioned this morning, as it had been nearly every morning since George W. Bush took office. Nine hundred miles to the north, Laura Bush also started the day early. In her husband's absence, the job of taking Spot the English springer spaniel and their frisky black Scottish terrier Barney for their morning walk had fallen to the First Lady. Afterward, Laura returned to the second-floor family quarters for a quick breakfast with her in-laws. George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara had spent the night at the White House and were about to board a private jet bound for a speaking engagement in Minnesota. Laura had always had an easy, comfortable relationship with the ex-president and his first lady, but now they rightly sensed their daughter-in-law was preoccupied. This morning, the former schoolteacher was going to appear before Senator Edward Kennedy's Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions to plead for more federal funding of early childhood education. She took even greater care than usual in picking out just the right wardrobe for the occasion: tailored red suit, a three-strand pearl necklace, matching pearl earrings. Laura kissed her in-laws good-bye, checked her purse for the essentials ("lipstick, hairbrush, Altoids"), then headed for the White House limousine waiting to take her to Capitol Hill. It was, she said to no one in particular as she stepped out into the brilliant September sunshine, "a beautiful day, just beautiful." But as she walked the few steps toward the car, a member of her Secret Service detail took her aside to tell her he was getting some disturbing news over his earpiece. Something terrible had just happened in New York ... The presidential motorcade was making the twenty-minute trip from the Colony to Emma E. Booker Elementary School when Press Secretary Ari Fleischer's pager went off. There were early reports that a plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers of New York's World Trade Center just minutes before, at 8:48 A.M. President Bush had emerged from his car and was shaking hands with local officials standing outside the school when Chief of Staff Andrew Card sidled up to him with the news. A terrible accident, Bush thought to himself as he walked into the gray-carpeted second grade classroom and, smiling broadly, took a seat to the immediate left of the teacher. Scrawled on the blackboard behind him was the slogan "Reading Makes a Country Great!" Less than twenty-four hours before, the President had been cheered at Jacksonville's Justina Elementary School as he declared "war on illiteracy." Sarasota was the second stop on a whirlwind tour of the Southeast to promote his administration's "Putting Reading First" initiative, and to muster support for an education bill that had stalled in Congress. The eighteen students seated in two rows before him had just begun to take turns reading aloud a story about a goat when Card reappeared. He walked to the head of the classroom, leaned down, and whispered in the President's right ear. "A second plane has just hit the World Trade Center," he said. "America is under attack." The President, sitting with his legs crossed and his hands folded in his lap, was intensely aware of the television cameras that were recording his every expression. "I have nobody to talk to," he thought to himself as he tried to absorb it all in an instant. "My God, I'm Commander-in-Chief and the country has just come under attack!" There was no way he could conceal his feelings of shock and dismay at the horrible news. There was a fleeting look of panic in the President's eyes as Card stepped back. "It was a surreal moment," Card later said. "It was immediately obvious that it was neither an accident nor a coincidence." But without all the facts at hand, George Bush had no intention of upsetting the schoolchildren who had come to read for him. The rest of the children's story about the goat did not register with him at all, but the President, raising his eyebrows and nodding, interrupted the second graders to praise them. "Really good readers, whew!" Bush told the class. "This must be sixth grade." At the end of each chapter, the students read the line "more to come," and at one point the President asked them if they knew what that meant. "Something is happening!" several excitedly replied in unison. Something is happening ... Excerpted from George and Laura by Christopher Andersen Copyright © 2002 by Christopher Andersen Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.