Cover image for In his father's shadow : the transformations of George W. Bush
In his father's shadow : the transformations of George W. Bush
Renshon, Stanley Allen.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Palgrave Macmillan, [2004]

Physical Description:
xii, 292 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


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E903.3 .R46 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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From a pampered son who showed little promise, to his rise to the presidency, George W. Bush has transformed himself through acts of will and faith. Stanley Renshon examines the psychological transformation of Bush and identifies those pivotal changes that allowed him to achieve success in his personal life and in the political arena, and shows how Bush's personal transformation has come to shape his political policies. The man who battled--and defeated--his own inner demons has become a president determined to battle the demons of terrorism and extremism that prevent democracy from flourishing around the world. This psychological portrait provides a much-needed antidote to prevailing critiques that ridicule Bush's values and policies, as it celebrates his resolve and strong leadership.

Author Notes

He is a professor of political science & coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Program in the Psychology of Social & Political Behavior at the City University of New York Graduate Center & a certified psychoanalyst.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

How did a ?mischievous imp? whose early life was characterized by academic mediocrity, professional failure and after-hours carousing ultimately become a confident politician and an era-defining President? In this book, a muddled combination of psychoanalysis and political punditry, Renshon (High Hopes: The Clinton Presidency and the Politics of Ambition) seeks to answer that question, and to prove that Bush?s presidency is driven by a desire to dramatically change the country in ways that directly mirror his own personal transformations. The book is at its best in its early sections, in which Renshon traces Bush?s difficulties in becoming a mature and successful person within the context of his powerful family. According to Renshon, decades spent as a ?black sheep? allowed Bush to develop the ability to ?stand apart from others? and the capacity to embrace conflict rather than avoid it. In this segment, the book offers a balanced and nuanced portrait of a late bloomer, a very capable man who nonetheless has been unable to transcend some of the ?quirky elements of his psychology.? However, the sections of the book that deal with Bush?s political agenda are much more partisan. Renshon spends a great deal of the volume trying to refute criticisms of the President and, at one point, groups all the many policies opposed to Bush?s domestic agenda under the single label ?interest-group liberalism.? There?s even a section of ?National Security Questions for Critics.? Renshon himself appears to find no fault with Bush?s leadership, and he looks forward to a hypothetical future in which Bush will be seen ?historically, and appropriately, as a president of the first rank.? Readers who agree with him will no doubt give this book five stars, but those who don?t may wish that he?d stuck to questions of the couch. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Choice Review

George W. Bush took a long time to grow up. But he did, according to Renshon (City Univ. of New York), and by the time he governed Texas, he had transformed himself. When faced with the crisis of 9/11, Bush sought to do for the country and the world what he had done for himself. Renshon avers that Bush has huge ambitions: to replace interest group liberalism with principled conservatism at home, and to spread democracy around the globe so as to make the US safer. If it works, Bush will "have transformed himself once again ... to a truly historical figure of the first rank." Such a bold thesis deserves careful elaboration. Renshon's analysis of Bush-the-man is careful enough. He makes the case that, before he reached the White House, Bush had found his way out of his father's shadow. This is an important argument, as it bears on Bush's motivation for attacking Iraq. But when the subject turns to policy and politics, Renshon often merely takes the Bush White House at its word, not only in terms of motivation but, remarkably, with regard to actual policy consequences as well. ^BSumming Up: Optional. General readers and undergraduates. T. S. Langston Tulane University

Table of Contents

George W. Bush
Acknowledgementsp. viii
A Chronologyp. x
Introduction: Understanding the George W. Bush Presidencyp. 1
Section I A Framework for Analysis
Chapter 1 A Historic and Controversial Presidentp. 7
Section II Searching for His Place
Chapter 2 In His Father's Shadowp. 27
Section III George W. Bush: Character and Psychology
Chapter 3 The President's Characterp. 51
Chapter 4 Character's Tools: The President's Psychologyp. 73
Section IV President Bush: Judgment and Leadership
Chapter 5 George W. Bush: Good Judgment or Cowboy Politics?p. 101
Chapter 6 The Second Transformation: George W. Bush and the 9/11 Presidencyp. 137
Chapter 7 Principles in Practice: George W. Bush's Presidential Leadershipp. 159
Section V A Transforming President in Perspective
Chapter 8 The Politics of Transformationp. 179
Chapter 9 The Dilemmas of a Transforming Presidentp. 217
Afterword: Ambition Squaredp. 241
Notesp. 253
Bibliographyp. 283