书评「另一半的事情」/The Other Side of the Story - a Book Review on Decision Points by George W. Bush
Updated: Jul 11
This book review I wrote was published in Liaoning Daily on August 6, 2011, on page T11's Reading Time section.
Scroll down for the English version
另一半的事情 /The Other Side of the Story
□ 岳军/Jun Yue
2004年，那位美国外教的工作合同到期，准备返回美国，我去帮她搬家。到她家时，她正在填一张类似于答题卡的东西，我问她那是什么，她告诉我，那是美国大选用的海外缺席选票。即使不在美国，只要事先进行登记，就可以在美国境外参加投票。填完的选票邮寄回投票人在美国常住的州即可。我问她：“你一定不支持小布什，我猜你会投给克里吧？ ”她依然很平静地摇摇头说道，“我投小布什。”“可是，小布什就是个愚蠢的牛仔呀？ ”她听到后，微笑着，依然很平静，她说一年来她对伊拉克战争有了新的看法，接着开始给我耐心解释起暴政与战争。她觉得战争固然残忍，但暴政比战争更残忍无数倍。
The initial impression I had of Bush Jr. was not at all great and glorious.
In 2003, there was a very old American foreign teacher at school, and she suddenly mentioned the war in Iraq, which had just started, and the skinny old lady, who was very calm, became very emotional. I was extremely impressed by her remark at that time: "Bush Jr. is a stupid cowboy. "For many years after that, whenever I talked about Bush Jr. with my friends, I was always happy to quote this phrase to show an American view of Bush Jr. The foreign teacher was a nurse in her youth, worked with the International Red Cross relief team, and, since the age of 18, has been a paramedic and church volunteer in numerous wars, famine, and poverty-stricken areas around the world. It is perfectly understandable that she would react this way to the war.
Later, there were many stories about Bush Jr. that reinforced my impressions of that statement. For example, Bush Jr. once made a rather cheap English grammar mistake in a speech, accidentally saying the funny word "childrens" in the double plural. Years ago, when I was teaching at a well-known educational institution, I was happy to bring up this example in my classes. During his presidency, George W. Bush Jr. never stopped making jokes. He spoke at the APEC meeting and said thank you for attending the OPEC meeting; he said he had troops in Australia instead of Austria; he forgot his words in a televised speech at the White House and giggled helplessly for the cameras while beaming and squeezing his eyebrows. In short, to this day, many critics still like to use "bad grammar", "uneducated", "low IQ", and "unreliable " to describe the two-term president of the United States.
In 2004, when that American foreign teacher's job contract expired and she was ready to return to the United States, I went to help her move. When I arrived at her house, she was filling out something like an answer card, and when I asked her what it was, she told me that it was an overseas absentee ballot for the U.S. election. Even if you are not in the U.S., you can vote outside the U.S. by registering in advance. The completed ballot can be mailed back to the state where the voter usually lives in the United States. I asked her, "You must not support Bush Jr. I guess you'll vote for Kerry? "She still shook her head very calmly and said, "I'm voting for Bush Jr." "But Bush Jr. is a stupid cowboy, right? "She smiled and remained calm as she said she had a new perspective on the war in Iraq over the past year, and then began to patiently explain tyranny and war to me. She felt that while war is cruel, tyranny is countless times crueler than war.
Who says old people are stubborn? This over half-century-old woman made me try to see Bush Jr. from a different perspective. If we can let go of some preconceptions and try to see a person or a thing from a different perspective, we may get a completely different picture. This also reminds me of a film made by Edward Yang many years ago, called "One by One". In the film, there was a character called Jane Yang Yang, who liked to take a camera given to him by his father to photograph the back of other people's heads, thinking that everyone could not see the back of their heads and everyone saw things differently from others. He has this line in the film: "Dad, I can't see what you see, and you can't see what I see, so how do I know what you're looking at? Do we only know half of what's going on? I can only see the front, can not see the back so that half of the things can not be seen? "
Bush Jr.'s autobiography, Decision Points, shows us exactly "the other half of the story". He made countless big and small decisions during his presidency of the United States, as ordinary people, we can know from the media, always only the results of the decision, which is only "half of the thing", and how these decisions are actually made? This is the "other half of the story". Politics may be complicated, ruthless, and even dirty, but the subjects are still human beings, and everyone should have the opportunity to add a "footnote" to what they have done anyway.
In Decision Points, George W. Bush Jr. adds vivid, detailed and honest "footnotes" to many of the major decisions he made during his administration. The autobiography covers the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War, Hurricane Katrina, the Wall Street financial meltdown, the Guantanamo prisoner abuse, the North Korean nuclear crisis, the U.S.-China plane crash, and many other major events. In the book, he also admits to a number of mistakes and defends some accusations. Compared with Clinton and Obama, his writing seems to reveal a unique simplicity.
After reading this book, the impression I got from Bush Jr. is still not "great and shining". But at least, my perception of the changes in the world during those eight years is no longer "half of the story". I also learned not to easily label a person or a thing as unchanging.