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Spoken from the Heart    by Laura Bush order for
Spoken from the Heart
by Laura Bush
Order:  USA  Can
Scribner, 2011 (2010)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

I must start by saying that I did not bring any political persuasion or perspective to reading and reviewing this book. I read to learn more about Laura Bush - mind, spirit, and yes, heart. It was one of the best books I have ever read in my seven-decade lifetime. Spoken from the Heart is a must read no matter your political leanings.

In her autobiography Laura Bush speaks with dignity, style, and grace; qualities for which she became known and which captured the hearts of many as a beloved First Lady from 2001-2009. To read her book is to get to know her as an individual, with politics unchained.

With gentle ease, she talks of her childhood, parents, grandparents, and the loss of two brothers and a sister. She writes of her parents' marriage and her father going off to War as a master gunner with the 555th aircraft battalion. Arriving home in January 1946, Mr. Welch told of his Timberwolves' participation in the liberation of the Mittlebau-Dora concentration camp in Nordhausen, Germany. Witnessing the atrocities, 'the American GIs dropped their hands and wept'.

Born in 1946 in Midland, Texas, Laura Bush writes of the ups-and-downs of oil country, the severe droughts and sandstorms, along with an ebb and flow in population. She jogs readers' memories by writing of pneumatic tubes travelling from store clerks to cashiers, and reminds us of the unforgettable radio voice of Edward R. Murrow, and of singers Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly, as she highlights school days, joys and sorrows.

It's clearly difficult sharing the loss of high-school friend Mike Douglas in 1963 when the car she was driving collided with another. Laura writes 'I lost my faith that November ... for many, many years. It was the first time that I had prayed to God for something, begged him for something, not the simple childhood wishing on a star but humbly begging for another human life ... And it was as if no one heard.' Laura's family and friends did not discuss what happened and she advises that we 'face our demons' for healing. She writes of 'Guilt ... I will carry for the rest of my life.'

Laura Bush earned her teaching degree at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. Her desire was to teach at inner-city minority schools where she knew there was a void. Years later her passion for books and reading led to studies in library-science. During her time as First Lady, Laura Bush founded the National Book Festival and the Texas Book Festival.

In November 1977, after a short courtship, Laura married George W. Bush and her life took a different direction. She offers insider views of the grueling life on the campaign trail and the ache of leaving behind twin daughters Jenna and Barbara. For the first time, Laura recounts the days of September 11, 2001; the evacuation of the Capitol building; transit to 'the subterranean White House bunker'; attempts to reach George, and the aftermath.

Laura Bush writes of her journeys as First Lady, and highlights the women's rights and human rights causes for which she advocated. During those years, Laura worked toward raising awareness of human health needs in countries such as Africa, Burma, Haiti, and the Middle East with a focus, too, on literacy and women's rights in Afghanistan.

The former First Lady's autobiography is penned with the serene demeanor for which she is known. Spoken from the Heart is honestly and elegantly written, revealing an individual filled with compassion, love of family, and love of country. Laura Bush and her daughter Jenna also published a children's book, Read All About It!, inspired by the antics of Laura's past students.

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