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A Bush Review?

December 27, 1987

Having worked with the vice president on his autobiography, " Looking Forward," I'd like to comment on Leonard Bushkoff's fustian review of the book (The Book Review, Nov. 8).

For openers, Bushkoff, pressed to fault George Bush's record as "the youngest pilot in the Navy" during World War II, dismisses that experience by concluding that Bush "seems to have put it all behind him, offering no hint about its effect--if any--on his thinking or outlook."

Unless Bushkoff's edition of the book differs from the standard text, he'll find (pages 39-40) a fairly penetrating account of the effect the war years had on George Bush's outlook on life. This includes part of a letter the 20-year-old Bush wrote home as he reflected on the loss of two crew members after his plane was shot down on a bombing mission in the Pacific.

Again, Bushkoff finds that "the lingering death of (Bush's) young daughter from leukemia in 1953 is handled briskly, almost impersonally" in the book:

"In the next six months there were periods of remission, when Robin seemed to be the healthy little girl we'd always known. I remember once walking with her when she was holding my hand and laughing. Because of her blood transfusions, she was especially beautiful and full of life that day. . . .

"But . . . the doctors kept telling us not to get our hopes up," the vice president continues. "They'd do their best, but there was nothing known to medical science that could help. . . . Prayer had always been an important part of our lives, but never more so544499809I sustained each other; but in the end it was our faith that truly sustained us, as gradually but surely, Robin slipped away. She was 3 years and 10 months old when she died. To this day, like every parent who has ever lost a child, we wonder why; yet we know that, whatever the reason, she is in God's loving arms."

Let Times readers judge for themselves whether George Bush, as your reviewer states, "handled" this tragic episode "briskly" and "impersonally."


Falls Church, Va.

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