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George W. Bush (undated photo)
Courtesy of George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum
George W. Bush (undated photo)

Airs Monday, May 4 and Tuesday, May 5 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV + PBS Video App

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE explores the fascinating life and tumultuous presidency of George W. Bush in a new two-part biography of the 43rd U.S. president.

The documentary features insights from historians, journalists and members of the president’s inner circle, including chiefs of staff Andy Card and Joshua Bolten, speechwriter David Frum, press secretary Ari Fleischer, senior advisor Karl Rove and others.

The latest addition to the American Experience award-winning series of presidential biographies, “George W. Bush” premieres Monday and Tuesday, May 4-5, 2020.



Part 1 chronicles Bush’s unorthodox road to the White House. The once wild son of a political dynasty, few expected Bush to ascend to the presidency. Yet 36 days after the November 2000 election, Bush emerged the victor of the most hotly contested race in the nation’s history.

Little in the new president’s past could have prepared him for the events that unfolded on September 11, 2001. Bush’s response to the deadly terrorist attacks would come to define a new era in American foreign policy.

President George W. Bush embraces a firefighter at the site of the World Trade Center, Sept. 14, 2001, during his visit to New York City.
Courtesy of George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum
President George W. Bush embraces a firefighter at the site of the World Trade Center, Sept. 14, 2001, during his visit to New York City.

Part 2 opens with the ensuing war in Iraq and continues through Bush’s second term, as the President confronts the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina and the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Filmmaker Quotes:


“George W. Bush took office less than 10 months before 9/11 ushered in a new era of fear, anger and uncertainty, as news of threat levels and anthrax scares became a daily occurrence,” said Susan Bellows, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE senior producer. “Twenty years after the dramatic Bush-Gore election of 2000 that introduced the term ‘hanging chad’ to our lexicon, this new film explores the evolution of George W. Bush’s character and how it shaped his presidency.”

“What makes George W. Bush such a fascinating subject is that he was one of the least prepared presidents in our history, yet faced some of the greatest challenges,” said filmmaker Barak Goodman. “Not since Lincoln has such an inexperienced leader been called upon in a moment of genuine existential crisis. How Bush evolved in office under these pressures — at first struggling mightily, but later finding his feet — illuminates not only his character, but the evolving nature of power and the presidency in an increasingly dangerous world.”


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AMERICAN EXPERIENCE is on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and you can follow @AmExperiencePBS on Twitter. #AmericanExperiencePBS


Written by Barak Goodman and Chris Durrance, and produced by Durrance and Jamila Ephron. The film is senior produced by Barak Goodman. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE is a production of WGBH Boston. Executive Producers; Mark Samels and Susan Bellows.