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Publisher's Summary

Within eight turbulent months in 1974 Gerald Ford went from the United States House of Representatives, where he was the minority leader, to the White House as the country's first and only unelected president. His unprecedented rise to power, after Richard Nixon's equally unprecedented fall, has garnered the lion's share of scholarly attention devoted to America's 38th president. But Gerald Ford's (1913-2006) life and career in and out of Washington spanned nearly the entire 20th century.
Ambition, Pragmatism, and Party captures for the first time the full scope of Ford's long and remarkable political life. The man who emerges is keenly ambitious, determined to climb the political ladder in Washington, and loyal to his party but not a political ideologue.
Drawing on interviews with family and congressional and administrative officials, presidential historian Scott Kaufman traces Ford's path from a Depression-era childhood through service in World War II to entry into Congress shortly after the Cold War began. He delves deeply into the workings of Congress and legislative-executive relations, offering insight into Ford's role as the House minority leader in a time of conservative insurgency in the Republican Party.
©2017 The University Press of Kansas (P)2017 Tantor
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Richard H. Page on 07-18-18


I was predisposed to like the book since I liked Ford. For me, however, the book ended up a “C” rather than a “B” or higher. It is a little passionless, a little antiseptic — not enough of a feeling for the man as opposed to a mere recitation of some events. I was surprised that there was no discussion of the Fortas incident, although perhaps I slept through that part. I liked the book, sort of, but did not come away thinking that the author was a scholar nor anything more than a middling writer. This is a worthy read if one likes political biography and has nothing more impressive awaiting him.

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5 out of 5 stars
By JayJay on 04-26-18


I selected this book because I have an (admittedly weird) interest in the minor US Presidents- the ones who tend to either be a bit forgotten or considered outright failures. Gerald Ford certainly fits the bill and I honestly knew almost nothing about him.

What a truly rewarding listen this turned out to be. Kaufman provides the deepest of dives into the political career of Ford, providing sometimes too much detail, but if you’re a history buff, it’s pretty enthralling.
At the end of the book, I’m not left with the impression that Ford is at all underrated. His presidency seems truly inconsequential at best and his almost blind partisanship mirrors much of what we still see in modern politicians. However, his post-Presidency evolution is fascinating. Even more intriguing are the tidbits provided about Betty, who I found even more complex and interesting than I found President Ford.
Rather than continue to ramble on with my thoughts about this book, I’ll simply say it is outstanding. Possibly among the 5 best presidential biographies I’ve ever read. If history and/or biography is your kind of thing- I highly recommend this book.

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