Extraordinary People: Curt Smith

Extraordinary People
Few local people know national politics like Curt Smith. But Smith is first and foremost a writer, and his latest book is about his friend and former boss, the 41st President of the United States. “It was not a hard book to write,” he says, “except that I wanted it to be extraordinarily good.”
Smith is a Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Rochester. 25 years ago, he worked in the White House, on Writers Row. His office was just 50 yards away from the West Wing.
His book is titled “President George H.W. Bush, Character at the Core.” Smith wrote more speeches for President Bush than anyone else, and he quotes from them to help chronicle Bush’s record, including the invasion of Panama, the first Gulf War, and the Fall of the Iron Curtain.
“People forget that (Bush) had passed pioneering legislation from clean air to civil rights, to the Americans for Disabilities Act.” Smith says. “I remember those specifically, because I was asked to write the speech.”
Smith’s book is a runaway best seller. Two months after publication, the Bush Presidential Library purchased 1200 copies and handed them out to high school students, visiting the library in Texas. Smith was there to greet them.
Today, politics is a nasty business, but Bush was known for his civility.
“America looks at this and they say, why can’t we have that now? I think this is such a part of the Bush appeal and I think such a part, so far, of the book’s success.”
In 2001, after Smith and his wife Sarah adopted a son and daughter, Bush sent the children letters. “I want to be your friend,” he wrote. “I used to be President of the United States. Now, I am a happy, private citizen, but I know something true.
Family and friends are what really count.”
“This man has a poetry of the heart,” Smith says. “The deeds, the gentleness, the rhythms of kindness that have marked his life, and to me (the letter) is exhibit A.” Smith began fleshing out “Character at the Core” in 2009, and finished in 2013. It’s a gift from a loyal speechwriter to the former leader of the free world.
“This was my thank you note to him for giving me the greatest privilege of my life.”

To purchase “George H.W. Bush: Character at the Core” click here or here.


 

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