Two Authors on Laura Bush

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Newsday brings us a piece on First Lady Laura Bush, and what has shaped her life and her character, including the tragedy that struck at age 17, when she crashed into friend Michael Douglas' car, causing his death.

Laura Bush displays an almost reflexive desire for privacy. She declined to be interviewed for this story, just as she did for The Perfect Wife: The Life and Choices of Laura Bush (Simon & Schuster, 2004) by Washington Post reporter Ann Gerhart.

Arguably, one source of her reticence is the accident in which Laura Bush tragically took the life of a good friend. It is something about which the first lady rarely comments, other than to acknowledge its "crushing" effect.

Given her background, areas such as literacy and early-childhood education were naturals to focus on. As first lady of her home state, she created the Texas Book Festival, and in 2001 she launched Washington's National Book Festival. But critics give her a mixed report card.

"For a wartime first lady, she has been way too out of the limelight," complains Antonia Felix of Lawrence, Kan., author of Laura: America's First Lady, First Mother (Adams Media, 2002), whose other biography subjects include Condoleezza Rice and Wesley Clark.

The Gerhart book points out that Bush was not charged in the tragic car accident, not even ticketed for having run the stop sign. "Not everybody gets that kind of second chance," Gerhart says.

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