From Ulysses S. Grant (whose "Personal Memoirs" is considered the gold standard of presidential autobiographies) to Bill Clinton (whose "My Life" sold over 2 million copies), the memoir has become an essential part of reputation-building for ex-presidents.
Mr. Bush has signed a deal to write his own contribution to the genre, tentatively titled "Decision Points," with the Crown Publishing Group, Politico reports. It is not known if Mr. Bush's payday will match or surpass the $15 million advance that Mr. Clinton received from Random House for his memoir.
Mr. Bush didn't wait for the ink to dry on his contract to get started: He's already 30,000 words into the book, Robert B. Barnett, the Washington lawyer who negotiated Mr. Bush's book deal, told The New York Times. The former president is getting some editorial assistance during the writing process from his former chief speechwriter, Christopher Michel, who is helping him craft the book.
"My goal is to bring the reader inside the Oval Office for the most consequential moments of my personal and political life," Mr. Bush said in a statement. "I look forward to painting a vivid picture of the information I had, the principles I followed, and the decisions I made."
The former president spilled some details about what form the finished product will take during a speech last Tuesday in Calgary, Alberta. He said he plans to write about the 12 toughest decisions he faced in his personal and political life in a way that will let readers determine what they would have done if they were in his shoes.
Among the topics that the book will touch on are Mr. Bush's decision to quit drinking, the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, and the selection of Dick Cheney as vice president, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
Crown Publishing is a subsidiary of Random House, which published Mr. Clinton's memoir. Three Rivers Press, another imprint of Random House, published President Barack Obama's two memoirs, "Dreams from My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope." Crown will also publish a youth version of "Dreams from My Father" and a book to be written after Mr. Obama leaves office.