The book might at first seem an odd choice for Bush, whose taste in biography, like that of other U.S. presidents, runs to previous occupants of the Oval Office. But it is not so surprising given that “Mao: The Unknown Story” has been embraced by the right as a searing indictment of Communism.
Other reviewers have praised the book’s brutal portrait of Mao as a corrective to sunnier biographies, even as they have questioned the authors’ moralistic, good-and-evil version of history. But almost everyone calls “Mao” a prodigiously researched page-turner.
Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, said last week that Laura Bush had given the book to her husband as a gift and that the president had just finished reading it. Asked why Bush liked the book, McClellan said he would find out, then reported back on Friday that Bush had told him that it “really shows how brutal a tyrant he was” and that “he was much more brutal than people assumed.”