This is the first comprehensive study of one of our most popular yet most misunderstood presidents. Reaching well beyond the image of Ford as "healer" of a war-torn and scandal-ridden nation, John Robert Greene extends and revises our understanding of Ford's struggles to restore credibility to the presidency in the wake of Watergate and Vietnam.
Few presidents had ever been asked to achieve so much in so little time against such great adversity. Greene shows that Ford's efforts to lead the nation were severely hampered by Nixon's misdeeds, by America's ignominious disengagement from an unpopular war, and by a watchdog Congress eager to put a brake on presidential power.
Working from a wealth of recently declassified documents, Greene reveals new evidence on Ford's roles in Watergate and challenges the prevailing view of the infamous Mayaguez incident. He argues persuasively that Ford made no "deal" with Nixon, but that his pardon of Nixon was costly nonetheless, for it shadowed his entire presidency thereafter. He also shows that the Mayaguez catastrophe was less a simple "rescue mission" than it was an attempt to revive sagging political fortunes by attacking Cambodia.
In addition, Greene details Ford's rise to prominence within the Republican Party; chronicles the president's problematic relations with his staff, the new Democratic Congress, and Ronald Reagan; sheds new light on the selection and performance of Vice-President Nelson Rockefeller; offers new insights into the election of 1976; and provides the first in-depth look at Ford's Amnesty Program for Vietnam Era Draft Evaders.
Based on interviews with Ford and more than sixty individuals who figured prominently in his presidency and on extensive use of the Ford Library, Greene's study illuminates Ford's valiant efforts during some of the presidency's most troubled years.
"A revealing and important book."--James M. Cannon, author of Time and Chance: Gerald Ford's Appointment with History
"Should remain the standard work for some time to come. Greene's close, judicious examination will go far toward dispelling simplistic notions about a 'failed' administration. I found it riveting from start to finish."--Herbert S. Parmet, author of Richard Nixon and His America
"This insightful study jettisons the caretaker/healer stereotype to plumb Ford's accomplishments and failures, his sound judgments and miscalculations. A rich portrait of an important period."--Louis Fisher, coeditor of the Encyclopedia of the American Presidency
"An incisively critical account of an important period in twentieth century American history."--Bernard J. Firestone, coeditor of Gerald R. Ford and the Politics of Post-Watergate America
JOHN ROBERT GREENE is professor of history and communications at Cazenovia College and author of The Presidency of George Bush.