HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

31 Days: The Crisis That Gave Us the…
Loading...

31 Days: The Crisis That Gave Us the Government We Have Today

by Barry Werth

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
861140,249 (3.79)2
None

None.

Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 2 mentions

http://nhw.livejournal.com/725046.html

This account takes us from 9 August 1974, the day the Richard Nixon became the first US president to resign from office, to 8 September, the day that his successor, Gerald Ford, issued "a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969 through August 9, 1974."

The book has two real plot strands, first, Ford's decision to issue the pardon and the subsequent negotiations over details with Nixon, and second, the scrabbling for office in the Ford White House, especially the decision to nominate Nelson Rockefeller as Vice-President rather than the other obvious candidate, George Bush the elder (or the last-minute dark horse alternative, Donald Rumsfeld - Ronald Reagan also fancied himself in the running, but Ford couldn't even remember how to spell his name).

The first is, of course, the key to the failure of Ford's presidency. Werth paints a convincing psychological and political picture of why Ford decided to do it so soon, against the advice of almost everyone he asked: the shock of realising, after his first press conference, that the issue of his predecessor's fate was going to drown out attention to his own programme for government until it was settled, combined with his experience as a youth of concluding his relations with his absent biological father. There is no clear record that anyone said to Ford that the move would expend all his political capital and kill his moral authority stone dead; but it is abundantly clear that Ford felt he couldn't live with himself until the decision was made, and would not have been swayed even if the argument had been put to him in those terms.

The second was a contributory factor to Ford's inability to pull things round in time. Like John Adams and Lyndon B Johnson, he did not change enough of the cabinet, despite open treachery from his Secretary of Defense literally as he was being sworn in. His press secretary, one of his oldest friends, was out of the loop about the planned pardon for Nixon, and in consequence stole the headlines by resigning the same day. Having promised George Bush senior something decent in compensation for not getting the Vice-Presidency, all he could come up with was the post of Ambassador to China (this after Bush, as the US representative at the UN, had fought tooth and nail against the de-recognition of Taiwan). Al Haig was clearly a menace. The picture that comes across is of a very nice guy who simply lacked the killer instinct.

(Having said that, of course, he still came pretty close to re-election in 1976 - less than 2% behind in the popular vote, and closer than that in Ohio and Wisconsin which would have been enough to beat Carter).

Much else happening in this period as well, and given my own interests I would have liked more on the Cyprus crisis, which of course was in full swing that summer (including - a detail I had forgotten if I ever knew it - the assassination of the US Ambassador by a Greek Cypriot gunman in Nicosia), but I guess the fact that it appears mainly as background colour tells me most of what I would want to know. (In any case the Kissinger Archives have much more detail.)

There are lots of other charming details; the description of Jerry and Betty Ford dancing with the king and Queen of Jordan at the end of their first week; the account of the impact of events on Betty's life is compassionate.

I can't give the book full marks, unfortunately. I would have liked a judgement from the author, not just from quoted commentators, about the morality of some of the things that were done and decisions made - in particular the disposition of Nixon's state papers, which at one point were piled so high on the third floor of the Old Executive Office Building that the Secret Service worried it might cave in.

The other missing element for me was that, while we learn a great deal about Ford's own background, and a decent amount on the other older characters, Nixon, Rockefeller, Bush, Haig, we find out very little about the the new generation empowered by Nixon's fall and Ford's brief ascendancy - Rumsfeld, Richard Cheney, Richard Perle, etc. They appear pretty much out of nowhere in the narrative, and the book therefore fails to really deliver on its promise to explain how the crisis "Gave Us The [American] Government We Have Today". ( )
  nwhyte | Sep 16, 2006 |
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385513801, Hardcover)

In 31 Days, Barry Werth takes readers inside the White House during the tumultuous days following Nixon’s resignation and the swearing-in of America’s “accidental president,” Gerald Ford. The congressional hearings, Nixon’s increasing paranoia, and, finally, the devastating revelations of the White House tapes had torn the country apart. Within the White House and the Republican Party, Nixon’s resignation produced new fissures and battle lines—and new opportunities for political advancement.

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 détente 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 thirty-three-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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:38:45 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Author Werth takes readers inside the White House during the tumultuous days following Nixon's resignation and the swearing-in of Gerald Ford. Watergate had torn the country apart. Within the White House and the Republican Party, Nixon's resignation produced new fissures and battle lines--and new opportunities for political advancement. Ford had to reassure the nation and the world that he would attend to the pressing issues of the day, and within hours of Nixon's departure, Ford began the all-important task of forming an inner circle of trusted advisers. 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 maneuvering behind everything from the pardon of Nixon to the rise of a new cadre of Republican movers and shakers.--From publisher description.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
4 avail.
2 wanted
3 pay4 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.79)
0.5
1
1.5
2
2.5
3 5
3.5 1
4 9
4.5
5 2

Audible.com

Two editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 92,153,521 books! | Top bar: Always visible