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Texas is cast as central character in Laura Bush's memoir

Seated on an oversized couch at her beloved ranch house, former first lady Laura Bush explained why so much of her new memoir is devoted to early years in West Texas and the mutual friends who introduced the "old maid of Midland" to the town's most eligible bachelor.

"I wanted people to understand Texas in a way that I'm not even sure the press did," Bush said one day last week while her husband, former President George W. Bush, snaked his way through their 1,600-acre ranch on his mountain bike.

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