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Summary

A historian's revealing and intimate portrait of George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush that explores their relationship as presidents and as father and son - the first major biographical treatment of these two consequential presidents and figures in American history.

In 2016, the Republican base revolted against the GOP establishment that has become synonymous with the Bush name, choosing instead a political neophyte and antiestablishment outsider as the standard bearer of their party. Donald Trump's election marked not only the end of a presidential dynasty but a rejection of the Republican principles and traditions the Bushes have long championed. Despite the Republicans' surprise victory in 2016, behind closed doors the party remains divided between traditional conservatives, populists, and radical ideologues and faces an uncertain future. As presidential historian Mark K. Updegrove argues, Bush 41 and 43 are in effect, the "last Republicans".

In this balanced, illuminating audiobook, Updegrove tells the story of the Bushes' relationship from the birth of George W. through their postpresidential years and Jeb Bush's failed candidacy. Drawing on exclusive access and interviews with both presidents and the key people in their lives, Updegrove reveals the Bushes' views on the current state of the nation and the GOP and how the party they both led and helped build is undergoing a radical transformation. At last the famously circumspect Bushes offer unvarnished observations and revelations on everything from George W. Bush's youthful indiscretions to the influence and perspectives they had on each other's administration to their views on Donald Trump - and how they each voted in the 2016 election.

A candid and often surprising portrait of two men, The Last Republicans is also an elegy for the party of Reagan and Bush - and for the many thoughtful and prudent individuals who made up the "establishment" and are conspicuously lacking in today's GOP.

©2017 Mark K. Updegrove (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Jean
  • 14-02-18

Father and Son Presidents

I have read a number of books about the Bush family. This duel biography does not cover any new information but attempts to show the relationship between father and son.

The book is well written and is meticulously researched. I appreciated that Updegrove organized the book chronologically; it made it so much easier to read. The author interviewed both men as well as other family members and colleagues. Updegrove also had access to diaries as well as the normal documents in various archives. Updegrove discussed the family values which are make your money and then give back to society via public service. The author stressed the family values and ambitions. I enjoyed reading the book.

The book is fourteen and a half hours. Milton Jeffers does an excellent job narrating the book. Jeffers has an easy to listen to voice.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Chuck Sadler
  • 05-01-18

A fascinating in-depth look at the 41stand 43rd presidents.

I’m not a political person but I can’t deny that the whole arena and establishment interests me. Epically after the rise of trump, the Republican Party is looking stranger and stranger. Bush 41 and Bush 43 cast some interesting light on the party in the decades before.

I enjoyed their personal history more than their political history. George HW Bush had an amazing like. Serving in WWII and then striking out on his own in Texas. George W also had his own journey. Both men are quite intriguing and the book does a wonderful job of weaving their lives together and apart. The author certainly romanticizes both of the Bush legacies, and it’s still a interesting read.

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  • Leslie Watson
  • 22-12-17

Hindsight is better than foresight.

Looking back to look forward. THIS look at the Bush family and other Presidents brings hope for all who love this country.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Chrissie Keffler
  • 27-12-17

A Great Book About My Favorite American Family

Where does The Last Republicans rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

The best non-fiction I have read in ages.

What did you like best about this story?

It confirmed my positive view of the Bush family. These two Presidents are/were servant leaders. They never embarrassed us and had no hidden agendas. There is such a thing as an “Everyman” in politics, and though it might be rare, both Bushes qualify. I think you judge people by the way they treat others, especially ordinary everyday people, and it’s clear that 41 and 43 have a deep respect for others. I happen to agree with them politically but there is a reason they maintain strong ties even with people they disagree with politically.

What about Milton Jeffers’s performance did you like?

It was as it should be, a non-distracting, strong voice sharing information.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me wistful. I have five kids in their twenties. We talked politics everyday when they were growing up. They feel a little cheated that many successful politicians today do not have qualities that inspire them. I pray that the Bushes are not the last Republicans.

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  • Adriana J Peterson
  • 06-12-17

A wonderful story of love in country and family

This is a wonderful story of the love that the Bush family has for their country and to each other. independent of your political stance there is no doubt that 41/43 love their country. it displays the values that they hold dear to their hearts that reflected in their tenures.

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  • DRS
  • 02-12-17

Amazing Americans

This book was eye-opening regarding so much of recent American history. My respect for the Bushes grew with each chapter. I loved it!

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  • Texas Great Grams
  • 21-04-21

Wonderful tribute to 2 President s

This book was a look into the lives and the love between s Father and son who just happened to share the title “Mr. President “.
George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush loved and respected each other and the Bush family.
I enjoyed very much hearing their story.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 30-01-22

better than expected

it has some slow moments but overall it was much better than I expected, definitely glad I read it

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  • Kevin RK Davis
  • 16-10-21

Learned and Appreciated Bush Dynasty

Full disclosure: I'm right-leaning, and voted for McCain (my first eligible voting age), Romney, then an independent in 2016 and Trump in 2020 - so I've never seen my vote in office.

In 2016, a Conservative Christian, I too, was disgusted with the choices we had. While I was interested in politics as much as the average joe, I did not consider the monumental, historical shift in the Republican Party to make Trump its standard bearer. I remember not blaming the Bushes for their public disregard to break from their party to not vote for Trump. While a registered Republican at the time, I did not feel I could in good conscience vote for him either. The stakes felt higher in 2020 (somehow) than in 2016, and held my nose to vote for Trump.

All that aside, this book, only in the prologue, and then near the very end, examines the significance of Trump's impact on the Republican Party that 41 and 43 both dutifully served. The title of this work is taken in part from 43, George W's lament, "I fear I may be the last Republican president," when hearing of Trump's rise to the ticket in 2016. Besides a few slight hints throughout the work to the coming of Trumpism, this book is a great examination of H.W. and W's biographies. While it covers their presidencies, it covers their lives too.

I've not uncovered Updegrove's own political leanings, but he seems to interact more with Democrats then Republicans. His favorable and respectful tone would betray his political leanings if that were truly the case. This is is no way, a Bush-bash, but rather a very helpful redemption from other works closer to 43's presidency that has consistently tainted and biased their legacies under the political tumult of the time. In his last words, Updegrove seems to understand how history sometimes rescues low-approval rated presidencies from their shadows and reexamine them more objectively. H.W. is certainly shown to be more favorable then he was during his actual presidency, while as for W., Updegrove comments that a lot of the bad publicity that W. receives may still be too close to his presidency to still give his legacy a fair shake. Even so, Updegrove all but praises W. for his presidency breaking part from a more heated-narrative in recent years [I greatly appreciated Updegrove's disapproval and write-off of Oliver Stone's propaganda-laced film, "W."]. The shadow of Trump may cause the most heated of W. opponents to re-examine their former nemesis in 43.

Don't hear me wrong, this book isn't a Bush-worship-song, nor did it come across as a nostalgic, fanciful, "Remember the good ol' days, when Trumpers weren't storming the capitol [this book was written before Jan 6 2020, anyways]?" Rather it is an educated and fair look at how the previous two Republican presidents differed vastly from the most recent Republican president not by direct comparison, but by thorough examination of their lives, values, and presidencies, period (again, Trump is removed from the bulk of the book).

I learned a lot about Bush family, and grew to love their values, decency, honesty and convictions. If you're looking to learn more about the Bushes, but don't want to dive deep to find what kind of socks Bush put on in the morning, or the inner-workings of how the W. war-room operated day in and day out, but rather a fly-over with dives only where curiosity might be peaked, then this is a great work.

The kicker of this work, where it may differ from other biographies, is obviously two men and two names grace the cover. Updegrove never departs too much from the book cover, in that he continues to bring up how father and son helped, loved, advised, and so forth throughout each other's careers. Updegrove broadens the lens to include other family members, giving some looks to Barbara - Bush 41's wife - and Laura, Bush 43's wife, as well as Jeb's attempt to gain the presidency in 2016 near the end of the work. Finally, only briefly - in the epilogue - Updegrove touches on on Jeb's son, George P. Bush, as a potential Bush politician in the making. Clearly stated, this work becomes two biographies, of father and son, and as most healthy father-son relationships have, this is how both related two each other.

This work does great service to dispel stupid myths that arose especially during 43's tenure in the presidency in how more sinister, or soap-opera dramas might be playing out. That is, it is all but proven true that W. wasn't operating out of loyalty nor hatred or exoneration of his dad. Rather, just how I might call my dad up for advice or lean on him in hard times - nothing more or less - so did 43 on 41, nothing deeper. Still, opponents will always opine, and haters will always hate, and ignore facts with their minds made up.

Updegrove's work is a good book. I highly commend it to anybody wishing to know more about 41 and 43, and about men who sought to humbly serve by leading out of convictions, instead of make waves out of celebrity status, or wake raging, bitter, divisive political winds for their own agendas (as opposed to any agendas of the people).

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-08-21

Set your course with humility and resolve and let History tell your story.

Having gained such a negative view of Republican politics over recent years this book has afforded me the privilege of a closer and yet more objective look at Republican politics and politicians through the ages. I am grateful and recommend the book to those who find themselves fascinated with, and frustrated by, politics. It is for me, an important reminder of the courage it takes to set your own course with humility and resolve, taking success and failure in your stride knowing leadership is a calling. A calling to serve in often treacherous times because it is not about you, your ego or your legacy but about those you serve. I love the idea of History deciding what to make of ones legacy!
Cheryllyn Dudley