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Excerpted from THE LAST REPUBLICANS: Inside the Extraordinary Accord Amid George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush by Mark Updegrove by adjustment with Harper, an banner of HarperCollinsPublishers Copyright © Mark Updegrove 2017

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“A FLASH OF LIGHT”

IN THE FALL OF 2012, about four years afterwards abrogation the White House, six months afore the aperture of his presidential library, George W. Bush sat in his glassy high-rise Dallas appointment bare of pres- idential trappings—no presidential seals or flags, no oil paintings, no Frederic Remington bronzes—and advised his father, the man he had admired aback his ancient memories. His sneakered anxiety and kha- kied legs propped up on a all-encompassing controlling desk, he leaned aback in his atramentous covering armchair in a gray golf shirt as he fingered an aphotic cigar, attractive uncannily like his ancestor at times, decidedly aback his face angry cocked and to the side. The affinity amid the two had deepened through the years, as the adolescent Bush aged. One could see the old man acutely in his bristling eyebrows, angled and hardly askew, the eyes attenuated and squinting at times, and the baggy opened mouth, admitting he lacked the aristocratic clarification in his features; his face was craggier, his beard wirier, and his forehead beneath expansive. Whatever pressures he had adjoin his ancestor in his life—to prove himself to him, or beat him, or insubordinate adjoin him—had connected ago collapsed acclaim away. The actuality about him actuality the Prodigal Son was “bulls---,” he said in his curt, apathetic Texas twang. Sure, in his backward adolescence and aboriginal twenties he had “chased a lot of bobcat and drank a lot of whiskey,” but he added, “I was never the Prodigal Son because I never larboard my family.” He and his dad had gone through some bouldered patches—what father-and-son accord hasn’t?—but his affection was with his ancestor at every step.

Also in the “bulls---” chic was media belief that he and his dad were apprenticed in a antagonism that agitated during Bush 43’s White House years. George W. never trusted the media, an aptitude activity aback to his canicule confined his ancestor during the latter’s bid for the admiral in 1988, aback he would aggressively appeal of reporters gluttonous interviews, “Why should I allocution to you? How do I apperceive you’re not out to get my dad?” The New York Times and the Washington Post! They never let up—and they never got it right. He and his ancestor had consistently been close, he insisted. Always.

Yet afterwards sixty-six years, abundant of his ancestor remained a abstruseness to him. George Herbert Walker Bush wasn’t one to go on about him- self, and admitting all they had shared, some things—many things— had gone unsaid, abacus to his mystique. “All these questions bodies affected my ancestors knew about—my parents had been brought up to be absolutely aloof and not to allocution about those things,” Jeb Bush had observed. And with his life’s adumbration growing best at eighty-eight, the ancient Bush had gotten quieter, becoming, in the words of Jean Becker, his longtime arch of staff, “a man of few words.” As George himself put it, “I’ve run out of things to say.”

George’s aboriginal developed years in accurate were a antecedent of admiration for his oldest son. The closing capacity of his activity George W. could bigger accept because he had gone bottomward agnate anchorage himself: Both begin success in business, boarded on antecedent political careers afterwards aboriginal losses, and ultimately accomplished the acme of ability in the White House. But the crowded, acclaimed years of his father’s backward adolescence and twenties were as alarming to him as they were elusive. He marveled at what it was for his ancestor to admit in the fleet on his eighteenth birthday, go to war at nineteen, and become a bedmate at twenty-one and a ancestor at twenty-two. He could abandoned brainstorm his father’s acute affliction afterwards accident his three-year-old daughter, Robin, to leukemia afore he was thirty. And he wondered what it was that prompted him to abandon a ancestors canyon to the abundance of Wall Street afterwards admission from Yale in 1948 and breach abroad adjoin chance and ambiguity in the abandoned oil fields of West Texas. Those years were as determinative for his ancestor as they were propitious. They shaped him and ushered him aboriginal into manhood.

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For George W., award himself and establishing himself in the apple would appear abundant afterwards in his own life. It was one of the differences amid him and his dad. Indeed, lateness was a authentication in George W.’s aboriginal years, aloof as it had been aback he entered the apple on a hot Saturday morning in July, aback his ancestor aboriginal casting eyes on him.

Barbara Bush, continuing bristles anxiety eight, had put on sixty pounds apprehension the bearing of her aboriginal child, who was three weeks accomplished due, as her bedmate of eighteen months, Yale University apprentice George Herbert Walker Bush, pursued his studies. By her own telling, she advised “more than a Yale linebacker.” During a abbreviate summer break, the brace collection from New Haven fifty afar southwest to the Bush ancestors home on Grove Lane in Greenwich, Connecticut, to appointment his parents, Prescott and Dorothy—Pres and Dottie as they were known. Sensing Barbara’s abundant discomfort, Dottie took affairs into her own hands. “She put me in the aback bench of a car and gave me a little canteen of brush oil to drink,” Barbara recalled. “Then we collection up to New Haven with me complaining and groaning in the aback bench as George and his mother said, ‘Don’t worry, everything’s altogether normal.’”

The affair accustomed at Grace-New Haven Hospital aback in New Haven at half-past midnight, area Barbara gave bearing in “a beam of light” aloof beneath seven hours later, at 7:26 a.m., on Saturday, July 6. Th fi and best abounding year of the eighteen-year babyish boom, 1946 saw the registered births of 3,288,672 American children. Among them was George Walker Bush.

Barbara and her bairn remained at the hospital for what acquainted like an boring eight canicule afterwards she was told by her doctors that she couldn’t airing up and bottomward the stairs of their one-bedroom accommodation on the bend of the Yale campus. “Of course, George couldn’t backpack me up the stairs, I outweighed him,” she recalled. “I was cerebration I’d never get out again.” Once again, Dottie Bush came to the rescue, agreeable her daughter-in-law to accompany the ancestors at their summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine, area she had assassin a assistant to tend to Barbara and her newborn.

George Herbert Walker Bush gave his son three-quarters of his name—minus the Herbert—making it antithetical abundant that he and Barbara would apprenticed point out that their son was neither a “Junior” nor a George Bush II. It wouldn’t abundant amount then, nor would it amount later; the George and the Bush were enough. The name came with a benevolent criterion by which he would always be measured. In his youth, he became accustomed as Georgie or Little George. Translation: Junior.

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Wellborn and aristocratic in aristocratic New England, the sec- ond of Pres and Dottie’s bristles children—four sons and a daughter— George Herbert Walker Bush had his own namesake: his affectionate grandfather, George Herbert Walker, from whom he additionally acquired the appellation by which he was accustomed from adolescence to aboriginal adult- hood. George Herbert Walker was acquiescently alleged “Pop” by his four sons—his grandson and namesake became accustomed as “Little Pop” or, added often, “Poppy.”

The four years and one ages that had anesthetized amid his aerial academy graduation and the bearing of George W. had been a basal life- time for Poppy Bush. The admiral of his class, he accelerating from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, on June 12, 1942, his eighteenth birthday, and began accomplishment his own aisle the aforementioned day. On duke to bear the school’s assemblage on graduation day was Franklin Roosevelt’s secretary of war, Henry Stimson, a above Wall Street advocate and crumbling adumbration of accessible account who had taken up posts in the cabinets of William Howard Taft, Herbert Hoover, and FDR and would go on to serve Harry Truman. As Apple War II played out in the European and Pacific theaters six months afterwards the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the seventy-four-year-old Stimson, a alum of Andover himself some fifty-eight years earlier, batten of his achievement that the approachable chic would briefly abandon the war and instead go on to college. The war would be a connected one, he maintained, and while America bare men on the advanced lines, there would be affluence of time for them to serve. What the country bare was leaders, and what they appropriate was the ability that a university apprenticeship would bring.

Pres Bush, on duke with his ancestors for his son’s graduation, listened to Stimson’s academician words acquisitive that they would bang a ambit with Poppy, who had beforehand told him of his ambition to admit aloft graduation. Anon afterwards the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Poppy was one of abounding who thought, We had bigger do article about this, and absitively that he would do his allotment at the ancient befalling as a fleet aviator. Pres had added account for his additional son. His oldest son, Prescott Jr., had accelerating Andover a year beforehand and went on to Yale, Pres’s alma mater, area he hoped Poppy, who had already been accepted, would anon follow.

The managing accomplice of the New York–based Brown Brothers Harriman, the nation’s better clandestine bank, Prescott Bush was not a man to whom bodies said no. Poppy would bethink him afterwards as “an arty presence, six anxiety four, with alveolate gray dejected eyes and a beating voice.” Still, aback Pres asked him in a awash alley afterwards the commemoration if he had a change of affection aloft audition Stimson’s counsel, Poppy replied, “No, sir, I’m activity in.” His ancestor nodded his acceptance and befuddled his hand. Afterward, Poppy went to Boston area he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Afterwards the aforementioned day, as Pres collection with the blow of the ancestors from Andover aback to their home in Greenwich, he wept. It was the aboriginal time his babe Nancy, two years Poppy’s junior, had apparent him cry.

Two months later, on August 6, Pres accompanied Poppy to New York’s Penn Station, area he put him aboard a alternation that would booty him to basal training as a seaman additional chic in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. There was no authoritativeness as to what lay advanced for Poppy as he larboard his father’s side, “the youngest guy on the train,” bound, ultimately, for war bisected a apple away. Prescott Bush cried afresh that day.

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The after June, three canicule abbreviate of his nineteenth birthday, Poppy became the youngest pilot in the U.S. Fleet aback he becoming his wings in Corpus Christi, Texas. His ancestor and mother jour- neyed to Texas for the ceremony, area Pres presented his son with a brace of gold cufflinks, which would become his best admired pos- session, heirlooms he would accord to his own son, forty-seven-year-old George W. Bush, over fifty years afterwards afore the latter’s commencement as governor of Texas. From there, Poppy went on to ten months of training to fly abate bombers at bases throughout the East Coast, then, in backward March 1944, to the South Pacific aboard the USS San Jacinto, area he would see activity adjoin the Japanese in his aboriginal mission on May 23.

By the summer of the aforementioned year, now a abettor inferior grade, Poppy had apparent his allotment of war. On June 26, afterwards aerial his Grum- man Avenger on abundant action missions, he bound a letter to his parents declaring that the “glory of actuality a carrier pilot” had “worn off.” Referencing his two adolescent brothers aback home, he wrote, “I achievement John and Buck and my own accouchement never accept to action a war. Friends disappearing, lives actuality extinguished. It’s aloof not right.” But on the morning of September 2, as Poppy boarded his abate adviser with his crewmates radioman John “Del” Delaney and gunner Ted White, war’s iniquities would become far clearer in his mind. And so would its fate.

The three men were answerable with a mission to hit a Japanese radio belfry on Chichi Jima, a barrier island off Japan’s bank that captivated astronomic cardinal acceptation to the enemy. As their even approached the tower, it was addled by a barrage of antiaircraft blaze sending it addled as Poppy connected the plane’s dive, bottomward its burden on the ambition afore beat impotently aback out over the Pacific. Shortly afterward, he shouted orders to Delaney and White to bond out afore artifice himself. Account later, Poppy begin himself abandoned in the baptize in a chicken one-man activity raft, four afar northeast of Chichi Jima, bleeding, vomiting, stung by a Portuguese man-of-war, and analytic in arrogant for Delaney and White. Using his hands, he feverishly paddled abroad from Chichi Jima, area the prevailing apprehension were alarming his raft, to balk assertive adversary abduction or death. As he did, he anticipation of “family and survival.”

Throughout his life, luck had a way of award George Bush. So it was in his best atrocious hour. Afterwards three hours and thirteen account in the water, the USS Finback, a Gato-class U.S. submarine, miraculously peeked up from the water, as bristles crewmen accolade to beat Abettor Bush to assurance on its accouter afore the ability dived aback beneath the ocean. Luck was not with Delaney and White, who never rose from the base of the Pacific.

Bush spent the abutting four weeks aboard the Finback, and they be- came the best cogitating of his adolescent life. Often, as he stood watch on accouter from midnight to 4:00 a.m., aback the abysmal alike out on the Pacific, he acquainted a calm alight on him as he stared into the ambit from the conning belfry beneath a affluence of stars. Those moments of confinement larboard a abysmal consequence on him that he would anamnesis generally in his afterwards years. “As you get older, and try to amend the accomplish that fabricated you the actuality who you are, the signposts to attending for are those appropriate times of insight,” he said about bisected a aeon later. “I bethink my canicule and nights aboard the Finback—maybe the best important of them all. In my view, there’s got to be some affectionate of afterlife and I was actuality absolved for article on earth.”

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His afterlife would become clearer in time. But one of the things that would appearance it came added carefully as Poppy advised his future; in the face of afterlife he came to acknowledge added absolutely his ancestors and the ethics handed to him by his parents. And he accomplished how abundant he admired the babe whose name graced the ancillary of his downed airplane, the girl—the woman—with whom he would accomplish his future.



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