“Not since Harry Truman succeeded Franklin D. Roosevelt twenty-nine years earlier had the American people known so little about a man who had stepped forward from obscurity to take the oath of office as President of the United States.”
—from Chapter 4
This is a comprehensive narrative account of the life of Gerald Ford written by one of his closest advisers, James Cannon. Written with unique insight and benefiting from personal interviews with President Ford in his last years, Gerald R. Ford: An Honorable Lifeis James Cannon’s final look at the simple and honest man from the Midwest.
The arc of Gerald Ford's career is unique and strange following the resignation of Spiro Agnew from the vice-presidency in 1973, Ford was bumped from House minority leader into the second most powerful office in the land. And after Nixon stepped down, Ford stepped up, though he couldn't keep his footing he lost the election in 1976 that would've made him president via the traditional route. Cannon (Time and Chance: Gerald Ford's Appointment with History), who served as Ford's domestic policy adviser, presents his former boss's life in this expertly crafted biography as one unbroken expression of "ability, integrity, and trustworthiness" from football star in Grand Rapids, Mich., to career congressman and on to the Oval Office though the book is not without incisive criticisms ("Lacking guile himself, rarely saw it in others"). His portrait benefits greatly from intimate contact with Ford, as well as from numerous interviews conducted post-presidency, when Ford candidly assessed his time in office in "plain words and flat Midwestern voice." Cannon's treatment avoids any overt political bias (though it is consistently favorable) and illuminates an oft-derided president who made up for a lack of showmanship with intelligence, understanding, and dedication. This is a first-rate political history and a compassionate biography. 17 b&w photos.