A Visit With Laura Bush

Not many people have the opportunity to step inside the house of a former president, so it was a thrill when Laura Bush invited LHJ editor Sally Lee to her new home in Dallas. To read an exclusive excerpt of her book, Spoken from the Heart, pick up a copy of our June issue, on newsstands now.
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SALLY LEE: How did you decide on the book's title?

LAURA BUSH: Well, the book really is spoken from the heart. It's candid, and I hope it'll reveal what I'm like and what my life was like. I began with my early years: I started by going back to Midland, our hometown. While I was there I drove up and down all the streets, looking at the houses that my daddy built. And then at the houses that George and I had lived in, including the one where we lived when Barbara and Jenna were born. I looked at the house that George lived in when we were in elementary school. When I went back to all these places and thought about it all, I realized how important those early years were in every way.

SL: You still have many of the friends from that time?

LB: Yes, we have many of the same friends, and that's particularly comforting when you're in political life. It was a great comfort to George and me to have our old friends from Midland visit us in Washington, especially at stressful times. They didn't try to talk about issues; they came to just be there for us. George loves to tell the story of how all his Midland friends would come to the Oval Office and say, 'I can't believe I'm here.' And then they looked at him: [They] couldn't believe he was there either.

SL: The Midland chapters were really my favorite part of your book. You seemed to really enjoy writing those.

LB: I wanted people to understand what Midland was like, what small towns are like, growing up in the United States, especially the years when George and I were growing up. Both of our fathers moved to Midland just as they came home from overseas, after World War Two. Our families were like a million other families in the U.S., where dads came home from the war. And I think Midland was very similar to steel towns in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and textile towns in North Carolina, and -- you know, auto towns in Michigan, right after the war, our parents really started building the U.S. economy.

SL: It seems like there was a little loneliness in your childhood.

LB: Well, there was. It was very lonely being an only child. And I think it was mainly because I was so aware of how [my parents] wanted other children, and how disappointed they were. And so I was disappointed. I wanted to have those brothers and sisters, too. But we didn't have a lonely house. My parents were fun and funny and loved each other and liked to be together. And we did everything together, really. So -- even though there were moments of wishing I had brothers and sisters, you know -- it was not really a lonely childhood.

SL: What will people be most surprised by in your memoir?

LB: Probably my upbringing and the way my daddy was: Gambling and drinking were a strong part of West Texas culture. What were you surprised by?

SL: I was surprised that I learned so much about your role as First Lady.

LB: I wanted to give people a sense of what life is like in the White House, even in mundane ways -- like how you put on a state dinner. Those are the questions I get asked a lot, and they weren't really a part of the other First Ladies' memoirs that I read.

Continued on page 2:  Party Crashers


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