The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

scope of the topic and the latter by its status as an early account of recent events.
In many ways, this volume is a good example of the strengths and weakness that
inhere in works of this kind.
Chapters one through eight take the story to Bush's brief career in the House
of Representatives. Thereafter, Parmet traces his political career to the Republi-
can National Committee, the United Nations, the Central Intelligence Agency,
the vice presidency, and the moves into and out of the White House. Such major
events of the Bush administration as the invasion of Panama and Operation
Desert Storm are covered in useful and colorful detail.
Sometimes, however, the "big" book aspect takes over the text, as when he re-
peats the disturbing allegations about CIA and Reagan administration complici-
ty in the smuggling of cocaine into the United States to fund Contra activities in
Nicaragua. Though he conceded that there was no plausible evidence that
showed that Bush had an active role in any illegal operation, he reinforces the
allegations through repetition. Sometimes the repetition seems unreasonable, as
with the references to Nancy Reagan's penchant for control and spite. That item
and the overload of information about the property transactions involved in the
acquisition of Bush's Maine property added bulk but not substance to the vol-
ume. Like many big books, this one needed pruning.
Parmet's book shows his characteristic industry. He worked in the available
archival materials, plowed through newspapers and magazines, and interviewed
some of the most knowledgeable people, including George and Barbara Bush.
As has happened notably with the accumulating writing about Dwight D. Eisen-
hower, one will expect subsequent research to both supplement and revise
Parmet's Bush biography, as additional materials become available and new
questions are asked. At that, both Bush and Parmet sidestepped some domestic
controversies that arose during Bush's administrations, such as the heated argu-
ments, continuing from the Reagan regime, over the effectiveness of federal
health programs, especially those relating to the AIDS epidemic.
In time, we will know more about the important events that George Bush
shaped and Herbert Parmet's book will be embalmed in "historiography." That's
the predictable fate of pro temp books, even good ones. It's unlikely, however,
that Parmet's assessment of Bush, as intelligent, hard-working, and decent, the
consummate practitioner of "telephone diplomacy," will be revised.
University of Texas-Permian Basin Roger M. Olien
Woody Guthne: Poet of the People. By Bonnie Christensen. (New York: Alfred A.
Knopf, 2001. Pp. [32]. Chronology, lyrics. ISBN 0-375-81113-3. $16.95,
cloth.)
In this well-illustrated children's book, Bonnie Christensen provides a brief
but informative biography of one of America's most influential and prolific
singer-songwriters. Since it is designed primarily for a younger audience, Woody
Guthne: Poet of the People, includes a rather simple and straightforward text, which
is nicely supplemented by a variety of richly colored illustrations. By including

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/. Accessed May 30, 2015.