Bush's holiday reading hints at thoughts of life after White House

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The Independent US

Is President George Bush already thinking of life after the White House? While he still has a full three years of his term left, his spokesman has revealed his holiday reading list contains a biography of Theodore Roosevelt's life after leaving office.

Mr Bush is also reading about the lives of the ordinary US soldiers he has dispatched to various parts of the globe - a legacy likely to be a key factor when his presidency is judged.

"The President is a history buff," a White House spokesman, Trent Duffy, said at Mr Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, where he is spending the holidays. "So he picked it up and he's reading it. He is an avid reader." Mr Duffy added: "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."

But the book - When Trumpets Call: Theodore Roosevelt After the White House, by Patricia O'Toole - suggests the President is thinking beyond the White House. Roosevelt, who was 50 when his second term ended in 1909, went on to accomplish an extraordinary number of endeavours after leaving office. Among these were the writing of more than 10 books, shooting more than 500 animals on an African safari, leading an exploration to remote parts of the Brazilian rainforest and running as a third-party candidate on the Bull Moose ticket. He died aged 60.

Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian, told the Los Angeles Times: "TR is the perfect ex-president to study as a role model. He attained almost bigger stature out of the White House than within."

Mr Bush also packed Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground. Written by Robert Kaplan, it contains critical commentary on Mr Bush's "war on terror".