Ford had to reassure the nation and the world that he would attend to the pressing issues of the day, from resolving the legal questions surrounding Nixon's role in Watergate, to dealing with the wind down of the Vietnam War, the precarious state of detente with the Soviet Union, and the ongoing attempts to stabilize the Middle East. Within hours of Nixon's departure from Washington, Ford began the all-important task of forming an inner circle of trusted advisers.
In richly detailed scenes, Werth describes the often vicious sparring among two mutually distrustful staffs, Nixon's and Ford's vice presidential holdovers, and a transition team that included Donald Rumsfeld (then Nixon's ambassador to NATO) and Rumsfeld's former deputy, the 33-year-old coolly efficient Richard Cheney.
The first detailed account of the ruthless maneuvering and day-to-day politicking behind everything from the pardon of Nixon to why George H. W. Bush was passed over for the vice presidency, to the rise of a new cadre of Republican movers and shakers, 31 Days offers a compelling perspective on a fascinating but relatively unexamined period in American history and its impact on the present.
Listen to an interview with Barry Werth on The Bob Edwards Show.
©2006 Barry Werth; (P)2006 Books on Tape
"Barry Werth has written a crackling and instructive account." (Tom Brokaw)
"It's a story that has been told more than once, but rarely so well or in such depth as it is here." (Publishers Weekly)
Gerald R Ford came into office, the sole unelected president of the United States, with an almost overwhelming job. To deal with the ordinary & extraordinary events that any president might face – in his case, the end of the Vietnam, the first oil embargo, accelerating inflation, Cold War, the Cyprus crisis – and rebuilding confidence in national institutions after Watergate & Nixon’s resignation. Werth focuses on the first month of Ford’s tenure, a month which ended with Ford’s decision to pardon Nixon (but not his henchmen) to help the healing process begin. This book is not an apologia for Ford or his actions, but rather a blow-by-blow account of what confronted Ford, his handpicked advisors and the rump of the Nixon administration, during that one month. One comes away with a new appreciation of the challenges of being president, the challenges especially facing someone, like Ford, who rather than being an egomaniac, seems quite human & approachable in his way of making decisions and his view of the world.
Robertson Dean’s narration is excellent.
I was a young man of 24 when the story unfolded. I wish I would have been more tuned in to the politics of the day when this was all happening. Of course I remember Watergate, and of course I remember when Pres. Nixon resigned, and I remember seeing Pres. Ford being sworn in as the new president. It was amazing to me to learn how Gen. Alexander Haig survived Nixon, through Ford, and was there with President Reagan. He was certainly a political survivor. Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, as the title suggests "the government we have today", he was in the background during a lot of the shenanigans in the Nixon White House. The term Imperial presidency, is referred to the Nixon years, and has resurfaced, with the George W. Bush administration. If you are a student of politics, young or old, you want to give this book consideration.
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