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Publisher's Summary

A vivid biography of former first lady Barbara Bush, one of the most influential and underappreciated women in American political history.

Barbara Pierce Bush was one of the country's most popular and powerful figures, yet her full story has never been told.

The Matriarch tells the riveting tale of a woman 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 100 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. The Matriarch examines not only her public persona, but also less well-known aspects of her remarkable life. 

As a girl in Rye, New York, Barbara Bush weathered criticism of her weight from her mother, barbs that left lifelong scars. As a young wife, she coped with the death of her three-year-old daughter from leukemia, a loss that changed her forever. In middle age, she grappled with depression so serious that she contemplated suicide. And as first the wife and then the mother of American presidents, she made history as the only woman to see - and advise - both her husband and son in the Oval Office. 

As with many women of her era, Barbara Bush was routinely underestimated, her contributions often neither recognized nor acknowledged. But she became an astute and trusted political campaign strategist and a beloved first lady. She invested herself deeply in expanding literacy programs in America, played a critical role in the end of the Cold War, and led the way in demonstrating love and compassion to those with HIV/AIDS. With her cooperation, this audiobook offers Barbara Bush's last words for history - on the evolution of her party, on the role of women, on Donald Trump, and on her family's legacy.

Barbara Bush's accomplishments, struggles, and contributions are many. Now, Susan Page explores them all in The Matriarch, a groundbreaking audiobook certain to cement Barbara Bush as one of the most unique and influential women in American history. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 Susan Page (P)2019 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Barbara Bush was the wife of one president and the mother of another, but as Susan Page shows, was far more interesting than that. In the nick of time, Page managed to interview Mrs. Bush at length, gain access to her diaries, and acquire other information that many earlier authors did not have in order to bring us this highly readable portrait, which expands our understanding of this strong, decisive woman, whose influence spanned an era." (Michael Beschloss, New York Times best-selling author of Presidents of War)

"Formidable and fearless, candid and sharp, Barbara Bush was among the most interesting people of our time. Susan Page's intimate biography covers both the triumphs and tribulations that made her so fascinating and beloved." (Walter Isaacson, Pulitzer Prize finalist and number one New York Times best-selling author of Leonardo da Vinci, Steve Jobs, and Einstein)

"What a fascinating read! By giving Page access to her diaries and agreeing to long interviews, Barbara Bush finally reveals the person behind the pearls. And she turns out to be one of the most interesting and influential women of the twentieth century." (Cokie Roberts, New York Times best-selling author of Ladies of Liberty and political commentator for NPR and ABC News)

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What listeners say about The Matriarch

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Wonderful Book, amazing woman

I love reading books about first ladies, the power behind the man and this was wonderful book that I really enjoyed. I liked that there was no " sugar coating" which made me love her more. She truly had a life well lived.

11 people found this helpful

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Barbara Bush and inspiration

I enjoyed the book thoroughly! I had always enjoyed Mrs. Bush, even though I never knew her personally, and was not alive during her husband’s presidency, I tnhank
her for her contributions to literacy, and I think him for his contributions to the Americans with disabilities act. She is definitely an inspiration, and I hope to be a teacher that she would want. I wish I could’ve met them both. But definitely enjoyed this book! I also liked all of the different interviews, with all of the different people that were interviewed. It was interesting to see all of the different perspectives.

10 people found this helpful

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Insightful

Barbara Bush is only the second first lady to be the wife and mother of presidents. Abigail Adams was the other. Susan Page has done a good job with the biography of Barbara Bush.

The book is well written and researched. Page had access to Bush’s private diaries and papers. She also had multiple interviews with BB as well as her family, friends and colleagues. In fact, she interviewed over 100 people. Page appears to reveal more of the personal side of BB including spending more time with the death of her daughter, Robin. She also covers her husband’s affair with a young woman, Jennifer Fitzgerald, as well as her decade long fight with depression. I have always had some sympathy for the first ladies. As many were forced into roles they did not want by their husband’s careers. I am impressed with the writing skills of Susan Page. I have watched her on television as one of those talking heads. She did an excellent job with the neutral biography of Barbara Bush.

The book is twelve hours and forty-six minutes. Kate Levy does a good job narrating the book. Levy is an actress and audiobook narrator.

15 people found this helpful

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Unexpected enjoyment!

I am a Democrat and very liberal. Another friend that shares the same political views as I do recommended this book and I was not disappointed. What I did not expect was to find that Barbara Bush had similar views as I do and was more progressive than I ever expected. There were times when I disagreed on the stance she took but the book was excellent on helping me understand why she took that stance. Overall this book was excellent at sharing Barbara’s story and the impact she made on the world. I’m glad I listened to this audiobook.

4 people found this helpful

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Higher hopes for this book

Considering the author had access to Barbara Bush's journals and member of her family and friends, I had eagerly looked forward to this book.

The narrator's presentation was pleasant and fluid.

The story was quite often repetitive, in particular, the references to the Bushes daughter Robin. As a parent and grandparent, I can empathize with such a horrible and tragic loss. But Robin's passing must have been brought up throughout the entire book at least twenty times.

I did feel that I better understood the sacrifices Mrs. Bush made to her husband's goals and the impact they had on her personally. The author presents a very complex personality who, in Mrs.Bush's journals, show a person conflicted with her own beliefs and opinions.

13 people found this helpful

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Barbara Bush

While I did not vote for any of the Bush candidates, I admired the unfiltered, “ what you see is what you get” attitude of BARBARA Pierce Bush. One thing I learned is she is not only the mother and spouse of a president, she is a distant cousin of President Pierce, Nancy Regan and Sara Palin. WOW!

12 people found this helpful

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Amazing Woman

I have finished reading the book about Barbara Bush, The Matriarch and thoroughly enjoyed it. I have always admired her, but there is a lot I didn’t know. As with all of us, she had a lot to deal with in her life complicated by the fact that she had to do most of it in the public eye. She is going to go on my list of people with whom I would like to have dinner. The writing and performance were excellent.

3 people found this helpful

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Democrat for Barbara

I loved this book because as a life long Dem it gave me some good perspective and made me take another look at the Bush family. It was a little dry, not sure if thats the author or Babs but she was a woman who thought things through and stuck to her guns. Even if you dont agree with every view point, you have to respect that.

3 people found this helpful

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like i needed more reasons

i already loved what i knew about Barbara Bush. Now I have so many more reasons to love her!
Thank you for this thoughtful & comprehensive reflection on her amazing life.

2 people found this helpful

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Outstanding, Inspiring, Fascinating

I thought I loved and respected Barbara Bush before but this book drove home just how incredible she was and really how incredible their family was and is. The insight into the relationships she had with her family give such a rich and different light on them from what we, in the public, saw as the politicians. They are truly a family built on love and faith and are made from tough stuff. She wasn't an easy person, but man she had integrity and heart. This book honors her and in a way honors all of us who love Barbara Bush by confirming that she truly was as amazing as we've all thought all along.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Colin McIntosh
  • 04-14-21

Fascinating

You think you know Barbara Bush but you have no idea what she achieved and did. This was completely fascinating and so interesting. There wasn’t a moment in this that wasn’t good. Can’t recommend highly enough