October 14, 2011 — The Miller Center at the University of Virginia today is releasing the oral history of President George H.W. Bush. Comprising interviews with more than 50 senior officials from the Bush White House and Cabinet, the oral history provides an intimate look at the 41st presidency in the words of those who were part of it.
The interviews, most lasting seven to 10 hours each, were conducted by teams of scholars. Interview transcripts, excerpts and audio clips will be available here, beginning at 1 p.m.
"Fortunately, the Miller Center has always understood and respected the goal of public service," Bush said. "That shows in the center's scholarly work, like the patient, ongoing project to chronicle the story of my administration. The documentary record is vital, but your scholars also add the human side that those papers can never capture. For my presidency, and for others, the Miller Center is a place that gets history and preserves it for future generations."
Interviews (which were cleared for release by the subjects) include those with Secretary of State James Baker, who also served as White House chief of staff; Defense Secretary Dick Cheney; CIA director Robert Gates; Adm. David Jeremiah, acting chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Frederick McClure, assistant for legislative affairs; Vice President Dan Quayle; National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft; White House chiefs of staff John Sununu and Samuel Skinner, who also served as transportation secretary; attorneys general Richard Thornburgh and William Barr; and others.
"No questions were off-limits to our interviewers, and in most cases those being interviewed were exceptionally generous, welcoming our curiosity and patiently explaining both success and failure as they saw it," said Russell Riley, chair of the Miller Center's Presidential Oral History Program. "Their words add detail and texture to our understanding of President Bush, the team of people he led, and the unique problems of the world as they occurred."
The oral history is being released one the first day of a two-day event at which former Bush administration officials and scholars from across the country are discussing the interviews and reflecting on the many historic issues the Bush administration confronted, including the end of the Cold War, the Persian Gulf War, the no-new-taxes pledge and the appointment of two Supreme Court justices. Participants include Jeremiah, McClure, Sununu and White House Counsel Boyden Gray. Though the event is not open to the public, it is being webcast live at millercenter.org and will be archived on the website soon after.
The Miller Center has already released the oral histories of presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. It is currently conducting those of presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, as well as Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.