A biography of former First Lady Barbara Bush who helped define two American presidencies and an entire political era. Written by USA TODAY's Washington Bureau chief Susan Page, this biography is informed by more than one hundred interviews with Bush friends and family members, hours of conversation with Mrs. Bush herself in the final six months of her life, and access to her diaries that spanned decades.
In this insightful, touching, personal saga of the happiness and heartaches that shaped Bush into one of this nation’s most formidable first ladies, Page makes a compelling case that behind the trademark white hair, string of pearls and sharp wit was one of the most powerful, overlooked and under-appreciated women of our times ... the author never loses sight of what matters more than the political story that brands the Bush family ... exceptionally readable ... unlike any you will read for the next 34 years.
... sturdy and fair-minded ... Readers of The Matriarch will find a person worth knowing in her own right, a shrewd witness to grand events who was full of incongruities: generous and fiercely protective, sharp-tongued and kindly, capable of great warmth and utterly lacking in sentimentality ... Tender and armor-plated: It is one of her many virtues as a biographer that Ms. Page lets such complications stand without trying to explain them away ... The Matriarch will be read, and worth reading, for a long time to come.
What makes Page’s biography such a notable contribution to our understanding of Barbara Bush is the access she gave the author to private diaries dating to 1948 and five interviews she granted in the months before her death. The narrative also benefits considerably from conversations Page conducted with Bush 41 and 43; President Bill Clinton; and more than 100 Bush family members, friends and former aides ... This definitive biography is a welcome contribution to our understanding of the complex role of presidential spouses.