THE PRESIDENCY OF GERALD R. FORD by John Robert Greene

THE PRESIDENCY OF GERALD R. FORD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Gerald Ford comes across here as an average nice guy who was thrust into the hot seat of a banished president and who tried to heal a demoralized nation in the aftermath of Watergate and Vietnam. Greene (History/Cazenovia College; The Nixon and Ford Administrations, not reviewed) mined the Ford Presidential Library's wealth of manuscript material, as well as conducting interviews with Ford himself and others. As a result, we gain a greater understanding of a president burdened by a recalcitrant Congress and bad press, facing one crisis after another: an oil embargo, ``stagflation,'' school integration conflicts, the bankruptcy of New York City, CIA assassination scandals, the invasion of Crete by Turks using NATO arms, the Mayaguez seizure, the fall of Saigon and Phnom Penh, the ever-smoldering Middle East powder keg, the Lebanese civil war, an unpopular policy of dÇtente with the Soviet Union, and attacks from the Republican right. The author believes that Ford's honesty and candor performed a great service to the nation, serving as a healing force in the wake of Nixon's presidency, and proved that moral leadership is a necessity in a president. However, Greene argues, Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon was the defining act of his presidency; his approval rating dropped from 71% to 50% within a week and remained foremost in people's minds. In foreign policy, Greene states, it's a myth that Ford blindly followed the advice of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and he demonstrated his independence from Congress by vetoing 66 bills in two and a half years. Greene concludes that Ford's successes did not completely heal the nation or restore trust in government, and the Nixon pardon made possible Jimmy Carter's narrow victory in 1976. A fair, balanced account of a troubled time and of a decent man whose efforts left the White House in better shape than he found it.

Pub Date: Jan. 6th, 1995
ISBN: 0-7006-0638-6
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Univ. Press of Kansas
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1994