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George W. Bush: Behind the Scenes

“Front Row Seat” offers an extraordinary collection of images of the 43rd president by former Chief White House Photographer Eric Draper. See a slideshow.

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With the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on May 1, the public is invited to take a closer look inside the life and work of the 43rd president.

But if you can’t make it to Dallas for a visit, a new book by the University of Texas Press, “Front Row Seat: A Photographic Portrait of the Presidency of George W. Bush,” offers an extraordinary collection of images, many never before published, by former Chief White House Photographer Eric Draper.

Part of the Focus on American History series with The University of Texas at Austin’s Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, “Front Row Seat” offers a compelling, behind-the-scenes view of the entire presidency of George W. Bush, from dramatic events to relaxed, intimate moments within the Bush family. (Some of Draper’s images are also part of the News to History: Photojournalism and the Presidency exhibit at the Briscoe Center.)

Bush presided over eight of the most dramatic years in recent history, from the 9/11 attacks early in his administration to the worldwide economic crisis of 2008. By his side, recording every event, was his personal White House photographer, Eric Draper. From a collection of nearly 1 million photographs, Draper has selected more than 100 images of the former president that portray both the public figure and the private man.

Through Draper’s lens, we follow the president through moments of crisis, such as 9/11; emotional meetings with troops in war zones, wounded soldiers at home and Katrina survivors; and happy, relaxed times with his wife, Laura, daughters Barbara and Jenna, and parents, George and Barbara Bush. We also see Bush at work within his inner circle of trusted advisers, including Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Draper is the longest-serving chief White House photographer and the first to document two full terms. He covered George W. Bush for the entire eight years of his presidency and was named Special Assistant to the President. During his tenure, Draper directed the photographic and archival conversion of the White House Photo Office from film to digital. Prior to joining the White House, Draper was West Regional Enterprise Photographer for The Associated Press and had also worked as a staff photographer for The Seattle Times, Pasadena Star-News and The Albuquerque Tribune.

For more information on the book, please visit the UT Press website.

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