TIME AND CHANCE by James Cannon


Gerald Ford's Appointment with History:1913-1974
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 A Republican loyalist's version of the obvious. Cannon, who has worked for Howard Baker, Gerald Ford, and George Bush, combines a retelling of the Watergate story with an initially adulatory, finally well-balanced, and always overly detailed portrait of Gerald Ford. Filled with clichÇ and irrelevant detail (Betty Ford, greeting her husband, ``kissed him with the warmth of a new bride, and he wrapped a muscular arm around her slender shoulder'' before they sat down to ``steak, baked potato, and butter pecan ice cream''), the story drags through events ranging from Ford's early sexual history (pleasant and non-problematic) to what feels like every human relationship he ever had (all good) to Watergate. In Cannon's telling, the enormous tawdriness of that long, bizarre period retains some of its fascination; but in both the political and personal stories, the lack of differentiateion here--between the pivotal and the extraneous--results in an attenuated narrative. Cannon had excellent access to Ford, to many of the people who know him, and to much of the documentation of his life and of the Watergate period, but he fails to shed new light, and the story here--from Ford's birth in 1913 to his defeat in the 1976 Presidential election--plods, like its putative hero, along familiar ground. Nixon remains inexplicably strange, Ford begins and ends as a nice guy who did the best with what he had and what he was given, and the truth remains unchanged that the inane skullduggery of the Watergate period still poisons the attitude of the American electorate. Nothing new, and nothing not said better before.

Pub Date: Jan. 26th, 1994
ISBN: 0-06-016539-1
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1993


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