Reading Into Bush's Choice of a Book

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It will be three years before George W. Bush becomes an ex-commander in chief, but he's already boning up on the post-retirement adventures of the original Cowboy President.

Bush is reading "When Trumpets Call: Theodore Roosevelt After the White House" by Patricia O'Toole while he relaxes at his Texas ranch during the week between Christmas and New Year's, the White House said Tuesday.

Roosevelt, who was 50 when his second term ended in 1909, lived unusually large after leaving the White House, even by presidential standards.

He published 11 books, bagged 500 animals on an African safari, led an exploration of Brazil's uncharted jungles, mounted an unsuccessful third-party presidential bid on the Bull Moose ticket, and survived a gunshot wound to the chest by a would-be assassin. He died in his sleep at age 60.

"TR is the perfect ex-president to study as a role model," said presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, director of the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Tulane University in New Orleans. "He attained almost bigger stature out of the White House than within."

Brinkley said O'Toole's book would demonstrate "the potential for adventures after the White House," a subject that he said Bush was likely to contemplate.

Not so fast, said White House Deputy Press Secretary Trent Duffy, who insisted that Bush was not yet daydreaming about escaping the political landscape of Washington and retiring to the friendlier terrain of central Texas.

"The president knows full well that he's got a lot of time left in this second term, and he's going to accomplish big things as he has talked about repeatedly," Duffy told reporters in Crawford, a few miles from the Bushes' Prairie Chapel Ranch.

Another book Bush brought to the ranch this week is "Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground." The book, written by Robert D. Kaplan, describes the experiences of rank-and-file soldiers who are called on to carry out America's foreign policy objectives around the world.

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