How to read Kitty Kelley.

How to read juicy books.
Sept. 15 2004 7:01 PM

Burning Bushes

A reader's guide to Kitty Kelley's The Family.

Book cover

Want the best (if somewhat dubious) dish from The Family, Kitty Kelley's new treatise on the Bush clan? Follow Slate's reading guide straight to the good parts.

Academic Honors

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Page 252: George H.W. Bush comes to the rescue when his sons run afoul of Andover honor codes. Jeb violates the school's alcohol ban, but he's allowed to finish his degree after his father intervenes. Years later, Kelley writes, school officials catch W.'s younger brother Marvin with drugs, but dad talks them out of expulsion and secures for his son an "honorary transfer" to another school.

Page 253: At Andover, George W. Bush writes a morose essay about his sister's death. Searching for a synonym for "tears," he consults a thesaurus and writes, "And the lacerates ran down my cheeks." A teacher labels the paper "disgraceful."

Page 251: The family patriarch, Prescott Bush, questions W.'s seriousness about attending Yale, the Bush clan alma mater. "It's the difference between ham and eggs," he says. "The chicken is involved. The pig is committed."

Page 261-68: George W. at Yale. A witness remembers a "roaring drunk" Bush doing the Alligator at a fraternity kegger. A frat brother says Bush "wasn't an ass man." Another friend concurs: "Poor Georgie. He couldn't even relate to women unless he was loaded. … There were just too many stories of him turning up dead drunk on dates." W. lovingly tends to his frat brothers but derides other Yalies as "liberal pussies."

Page 271: Joke excised from Bush's 2001 Yale commencement speech: "It's great to return to New Haven. My car was followed all the way from the airport by a long line of police cars with slowly rotating lights. It was just like being an undergraduate again."

Page 309: At Harvard Business School, which W. attends from 1973 to 1975, a professor screens The Grapes of Wrath. Bush asks him, "Why are you going to show us that Commie movie?" W.'s take on the film: "Look. People are poor because they are lazy."

Sex and Drugs

Page 49: Prescott Bush frequently shows up drunk at the lavish Hartford Club and never tips the bellboys. "Finally we figured out how to exact revenge," says one bellboy. "Whenever he came in drunk and wanted to go upstairs, we'd take him in the elevator and stop about three inches from his floor. He'd step out and fall flat on his face."