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Gerald R. Ford: The 38th President, 1974-1977 (American Presidents (Times)) Hardcover – 6 Feb 2007

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 199 pages
  • Publisher: Times Books; annotated edition edition (6 Feb. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805069097
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805069099
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 980,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Douglas Brinkley is the director of the Theodore Roosevelt Center and professor of history at Tulane University. He is the author of biographies of Henry Ford, Jimmy Carter, Dean Acheson, James Forrestal, John Kerry, and Rosa Parks, and his most recent books include "The Reagan Diaries," "The Great Deluge," and "The Boys of Pointe du Hoc." He is a contributing editor for "Vanity Fair," the "Los Angeles Times Book Review," and "American Heritage" and a frequent contributor to "The New York Times," "The New Yorker," and "The Atlantic Monthly." He lives in New Orleans with his wife and children.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lawrence Sutcliffe on 5 Aug. 2008
Format: Hardcover
Another entry in Times' splendid American Presidents series and follows the format of other volumes (general introduction, biography, notes, milestones, reference material and index). Brinkley's assessment of Ford and his period in office is fair and even handed, although sometimes it assumes more knowledge of American history than a reader outside the USA might possess. Otherwise this is a fine introduction to the major evens in Ford's life and an interesting view of a President who reputation has grown considerably since leaving office. I highly recommended this introduction to the life and times of the 38th American President.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 37 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Excellent and Absorbing! 15 Feb. 2007
By S. Schockow - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Brinkley's account of the underappreciated Presidency and life of Gerald R. Ford was a fast and informative account of our 38th President. Though a biographer of Jimmy Carter, Brinkley gives Ford his due credit, but also manages to draw attention to Ford's mistakes, such as jettisoning Rockefeller from the Vice Presidency. Brinkley's 2003 interviews with Ford also provide rich background to a book that one can easily read in a single day. Since his death, the public adoration for Ford has been deafening. This biography hit the shelves only 6 weeks after his death, which is included in the

book. As a public school Social Studies teacher, I would highly recommend this book!
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Ford grows with time 18 Mar. 2007
By Jon Hunt - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The American Presidents series, snapshot biographies of most of our presidents, is a great addition to our knowledge of this small number of men who have been our nation's Chief Executive. With the recent publication of Douglas Brinkley's book on Gerald Ford the series has just gotten even better. The timeliness of the book's release, so soon after President Ford's death, (not to mention the passing of Arthur Schlesinger, general editor of the series) is particularly welcome. Ford's growing popularity, as witnessed not only by Brinkley's offering but also by the former president's funeral, adds to the luster of a president who, during his tenure at the White House, was considered either a buffoon or just simply not up to the job.

Brinkley stresses Gerald Ford's midwestern roots, his service to the country during World War II and his ascension through the Republican ranks in the House of Representatives to become that party's Minority Leader. Politically ambitious, Brinkley recalls that Ford's wish was to become Speaker of the House. How things changed for him almost overnight! When Nixon needed a new Vice President after the disgraced Spiro Agnew resigned, there was really only one man who was acceptable...Jerry Ford.

His 896 days as president had some notable achievements, our extrication from Vietnam and the Helsinki Accords to name just two, but the pardon of Nixon....always the pardon...came around to haunt Ford for years. Fortunately, for those of us who were outraged at Ford for doing so at the time, now see the wisdom of his decision and Brinkley balances this nicely with other aspects of the Ford administration.

The assessment of President Ford's performance in office is far from complete but his personal attributes of honesty and integrity will only help to reinforce a rising look at Gerald Ford as a man and as a president. Douglas Brinkley has done an excellent job of reminding us what a good man President Ford was and how he helped get us through the aftermath of our "long, national nightmare".
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Meet President Gerald Ford 15 May 2008
By Steven A. Peterson - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well known historian Douglas Brinkley has written this brief biography, as a part of the American Presidents series of works. In the series editor's Introduction, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. notes that (Page xv): "The president is the central player in the American political order." Gerald Ford was an accidental president, taking over after Richard Nixon's downfall resulting from Watergate and his subsequent resignation.

Gerald Ford's name at birth was Leslie Lynch King, Jr. His father had a violent temper and the marriage did not last long. His mother later married Gerald Rudolf Ford; after a time, her son was renamed Gerald Rudolph (an Americanized version of the stepfather's middle name) Ford. As a youngster, he excelled at athletics and even had the possibility of a pro football career. However, he chose law school and, shortly after that, electoral politics. He saw action in World War II.

When he was elected to the House of Representatives 1948, he began to formulate the ambition to become Speaker of the House. His chosen career was in the legislature. The book does a nice job profiling his rise in the House, with carefully crafted advancement through the ranks; it also depicts the start of a long-time friendship between Ford and Richard Nixon.

When Ford finally became Minority Leader in the House, he used his conciliatory approach well. As Brinkley says (Page 31), ". . .he played the good coach, giving his squad wide latitude to speak their minds. In exchange, he wanted no bickering. Ford's open forum proved smart strategy." Some tho9ught him rather slow of thought, but his amiability and ability to work with others represented a great strength.

When Nixon was elected President, he tended not to work so well with Congress--including his own Republican mates. Ford did not distinguish himself with his unabating support for Nixon after Watergate became a public matter; after former Attorney General John Mitchell reported that the White House was not involved, Ford clung to that long after so many others had seen through the falsehoods.

Then, the unlikely story of his rise to Vice-President and his subsequent ascension to the presidency after Nixon's downfall. The book does a nice job in a brief space noting the major decisions/actions of the Ford Administration, some working out well and some not so well. Here, we read about Whip Inflation Now, swine flu, the withdrawal from Viet Nam, the Mayaguez incident, the Helsinki Accords, and so on. The internecine Republic nomination politics of 1976 essentially doomed him to lose to Jimmy Carter. Then, the amazing life after the presidency and people's changing reflections on his accomplishments. . . .

Another well turned work in the American Presidents series. These short volumes cannot go into the depth that I would sometimes like, but the tradeoff is accessible books for people who might not have the patience to wade through a 600 page tome.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I'm very sorry I voted against this man 10 May 2014
By Captain K - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I began my collection of these pocket bios with the obscure 19th century Presidents, then decided to shift to one I remember well. I was a typical college radical when Ford became President and since then have looked upon him more kindly only because of his mostly disastrous successors. As a fan of Brinkley's books I believed - correctly - that he would be objective while remaining respectful. Ford was a member of the "Greatest Generation" straight out of Central Casting, with his humble small-town roots, a political "conservative" in the true sense of the word whose political ambition, great thought it was, always had a tinge of "do the right thing." His detractors are right about some things - he could be an unimaginative plodder, and on occasion went down an unwise path (impeachment of Justice Douglas), and was fiercely loyal to a fault (e.g., willful ignorance of Nixon's dishonesty). But he also understood that a President must represent all the people and governed himself accordingly, becoming far more the "Man of the Hour" than he is given credit for. His administration was not flawless, and some of his political expediencies (dumping VP Rockefeller) were discreditable, but as Bob Strauss advised Jimmy Carter, they wouldn't win the election by casting their candidate as a better man than the incumbent. Brinkley speculates history will someday rank Ford as "near great" and, while I think the jury is still out, his brief is thorough and convincing.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A revisionist look at a surprisingly capable president 1 Oct. 2012
By Battleship - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Gerald Ford was a maligned political figure when he left office following the defeat to Jimmy Carter in 1976. He is often considered one of America's most forgettable presidents. Ford didn't help himself by having occasional bouts of clumsiness and some high-profile verbal gaffes. Douglas Brinkley is an outstanding historian. He presented a compelling case that Ford was a much better president than people generally think.

Brinkley points out that Ford had to work his way up the hard way. He was adopted and overcame challenges in childhood. He was perhaps the best athlete of any president. He was an All-American football player who got offers to play in the NFL. Instead, Ford chose to enter politics and represent his native Michigan.

Ford was an easy guy to work with. He was committed to bipartisan compromise on most issues. He was a deal-maker who never betrayed his core beliefs. He was admirable in that he would try to do what he thought was best for the country, even if someone else got the credit. Brinkley presents Ford as a decent and honest man at his core.

Ford did not ask to be president, but he served ably when he was called on. Ford could not dig America out of its economic doldrums. He did not cause the mess he inherited from Johnson and Nixon, but he came up with no solutions either. Ford was much more successful in his foreign policy initiatives. Ford had to clean up the mess after Saigon fell following American withdrawal from Vietnam.

Brinkley views Ford's brokering of the Helsinki Accords in 1975 as a pivotal change in the Cold War. He believes that Helsinki boxed the Soviet Union in because they promised to respect human rights. Brinkley feels that this gave the moral high ground to America in the Cold War and led to the reforms initiated by Gorbachev. I think Brinkley overstates the importance of the Helsinki Accords, but he is correct that Ford and Kissinger deserve credit for putting international heat on the Soviet Union to clean up its act.

Brinkley's main point is that Ford was a good transitional figure. Brinkley is absolutely correct that Ford did the right thing in pardoning Nixon and "putting America's long national nightmare" to rest. Ford did what he thought was right for the nation and his popularity was badly hurt for doing so. Most historians believe that Ford did the right thing, although it was hotly debated at the time.

In short, Brinkly points out that Ford was a calming presence after the turbulence of the Johnson and Nixon years. Ford compromised when he needed to, but he was also a man of principle. He vetoed a lot of bills proposed by the Democratic Congress and should be more respected by hardcore conservatives than he is. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, although I think Brinkley could have certainly taken Ford to task a little more for his failed economic policies.
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