Laura Bush is arguably the most popular figure in the Bush White House. Even the President's detractors would not hesitate to describe the First Lady as utterly sincere and devoted to family and country, whether she is advocating on behalf of education and libraries or comforting the nation in times of crisis.
Ann Gerhart of The Washington Post has covered Mrs. Bush since 2001, and no other reporter has interviewed the First Lady more often. Through this unparalleled access Gerhart has been able to uncover the woman behind the carefully maintained image. Far more than an uncomplicated maternal figure and dedicated wife, Laura Bush emerges as a complex and fascinating woman in her own right, who has composed a life of accomplishment for herself alongside her husband's tremendous ambitions.
The Perfect Wife tells the complete story from Mrs. Bush's upbringing to her whirlwind three-month courtship by George W. Bush and her role as a mother, wife, and public figure. An only child raised in a segregated and fiercely traditional West Texas town, she is less conservative than her husband and appealingly down-to-earth despite the extraordinary privileges of her position. Two tragedies have defined her: a car accident when she was seventeen and September 11, when she suddenly had to transform her job and take herself far more seriously. Ann Gerhart examines the First Lady's influences and motivations, reveals the depths to which her husband relies upon her, and assesses her achievements. Compelling and insightful, this is the first comprehensive account of a woman who has won the admiration of the nation and of the compromises and challenges that come with taking on the most examined volunteer job in the world.
"Gerhart is a wonderful observer, with a keen eye for detail and an excellent ear for conversation."
-- The Washington Post
"Gerhart has written an interesting book that at times makes Mrs. Bush seem a modern version of those nineteenth-century Edith Wharton wives, finding their own rich private lives amid the hard conventions of marriage and motherhood."
-- The New York Times Book Review
"The Perfect Wife is an admiring, sympathetic account of why Laura Bush is so darn nice."
-- The Washingtonian
"We may have to wait until history loosens lips to learn how much influence Laura Bush has in the White House. Meanwhile, Gerhart has made a good start at introducing us to the woman behind the smiling public mask."
-- USA Today
"Well-reported and perceptive...[it] is a short, breezy, guilty pleasure of a book, full of juicy quotes and anecdotes....Gerhart offers an unflinchingly clear-eyed view of her subject's foibles."
-- The Washington Monthly
-- The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Laura Bush is superbly defined in this new biography by Ann Gerhart. If you are one of the multitudes who have wondered what the First Lady is really like, then reading The Perfect Wife is a must. It's a wonderful book."
-- Helen Thomas, Hearst newspaper columnist and author of Dateline: White House and Front Row at the White House