The publishers of the widely anticipated memoir from former US president George W Bush have set a 9 November date for its release, precisely - and surely not coincidentally - one week after Americans vote in mid-term congressional elections that are likely to see substantial gains for the Republicans.
To be entitled Decision Points, the book will not be a traditional chronological narration of his experiences but will focus rather on the 14 most pivotal turning points in the ex- president's life, ranging from the moments of national drama in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks to the invasion of Iraq and the day he pledged to give up alcohol.
Few yesterday saw anything haphazard in the timing of the publication date. Launching the book in the days before the mid- term elections might have led to criticism that the author meant to meddle in the outcome, which would have been at odds with his carefully crafted post-presidential image of non-partisanship.
Alternatively, however, senior Republicans may have made it plain that putting Bush back on the public stage just before the elections would hardly be desirable.
"It is obvious they don't want any revelations in the book to interfere with Republican chances in the mid-term elections," Larry Sabato, professor of politics at the University of Virginia, said last night. "I think specifically also, he does not want to remind Americans of the reasons why they disliked him and installed the Democrats in his place. The last thing Republican leaders want right before the election is George Bush stealing the headlines."
The book, with a cover featuring a photograph of the former president looking pensive in the Rose Garden, a briefing book under his arm, is sure to be a best-seller as other presidential memoirs before have been, regardless of the rock-bottom approval ratings for much of his time in office.
Almost as much expectation, meanwhile, awaits the publication next month of a separate memoir by Laura Bush. Entitled From the Heart, it will go on sale on 4 May.
Norman Ornstein, of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank in Washington, believes that by waiting until 9 November, Mr Bush may be hoping to ride whatever pro- Republican wave comes out of the mid-term elections. …