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A Time to Heal: The Autobiography of Gerald R. Ford

30 review for A Time To Heal: The Autobiography Of Gerald Ford [First Printing Inscribed By Pres. Ford]

  1. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Million

    In the annals of presidential memoirs, Gerald Ford's is rarely mentioned. In fact, I wonder if many people even know that he wrote one. Perhaps a more relevant question would be: how many people remember him, period? Ford is one our least written-about presidents, and has never placed high on any presidential ranking lists. That does not mean his book isn't worth reading though. This book, like Ford, has been overlooked. While not to be confused with Grant's memoirs, Ford's review of his early li In the annals of presidential memoirs, Gerald Ford's is rarely mentioned. In fact, I wonder if many people even know that he wrote one. Perhaps a more relevant question would be: how many people remember him, period? Ford is one our least written-about presidents, and has never placed high on any presidential ranking lists. That does not mean his book isn't worth reading though. This book, like Ford, has been overlooked. While not to be confused with Grant's memoirs, Ford's review of his early life and presidency reflects the man himself: relatively straightforward and unpretentious. While Ford does not dwell on it too much, his parent's early divorce, the behavior of his father, and his mother's relocation from Nebraska to Grand Rapids, MI profoundly affected him. It is just about impossible not to feel bad for Ford when he describes his only meeting with his biological father: the guy just appears one day while Ford is in high school, working at a diner. He takes Ford out to eat, gives him a bit of money, and disappears as quickly as he came. That was Ford's only meeting with him, and it seems his only communication at all. He writes that when he went to bed that night, he started crying. I felt bad for him. That was really an awful thing for his father to have treated him so nonchalantly. It serves as a reminder that, even for someone reaching the highest office in the country, at core that person is still a human being, and all human beings have things and people that have hurt them. Ford actually opens the book talking about the final two weeks or so leading up to Richard Nixon's resignation in August 1974. Ford was walking a tightrope: an unelected Vice President, trying to remain loyal to Nixon despite daily pounding from the press about Watergate. Ford writes of finding out, finally, that Nixon had lied to him (and everyone else). Ford has genuine sympathy for Nixon as they had known each other for a quarter of a century. Yet, he came to see Nixon as a deeply flawed human being who refused to acknowledge wrongdoing and who destroyed the peoples' trust in government. Despite pardoning him - an action that I think as much as anything else cost Ford the 1976 election - Nixon never thanked him and seemed generally uncooperative and aloof after his resignation. I got the sense that Ford was biting his tongue about Nixon here, probably not wishing to disparage him even though Nixon was not particularly kind to him. Ford is much sharper in his comments concerning Ronald Reagan. It is quite clear that Ford does not like him, seeing him as a superficial model who is long on appearances and short on substance. It is also obvious that Reagan reciprocated the dislike, viewing Ford as an obstacle to his own quest to get to the White House (this book was written in 1979, before Reagan became president). Their primary fight in 1976 was bitter, with Ford believing that it weakened both him and the Republican Party (he is probably right) and Reagan being lukewarm at best in supporting Ford against Jimmy Carter. Reading this book made me wonder even more what Ford was thinking when he tried to force Reagan to accept him as a co-president so both could run on the same ticket in 1980. That certainly would not have worked! As for his time as president, Ford describes his close relationship with Henry Kissinger, his struggles with the Democratic Congress, his internal Cabinet shuffling (Ford does not say this, but all of the movement probably gave the impression that he was fumbling about and did not know what he was doing), his troubles with the economy, and the two attempted assassination attempts on him in California. Ford seemed to genuinely enjoy the job even though he had never harbored any aspirations to be president. He had wanted to be Speaker of the House but the Republicans could not gain control of the chamber, forcing Ford to settle for being Minority Leader. While the writing style is nothing special, Ford keeps the narrative engaging for the most part and peppers personal anecdotes throughout. I think he struck a good balance between not getting too bogged down in policy discussions while also attempting to convey the enormity of the problems that he was faced with. Recommended for anyone who is interested in Ford, the 1970s, or likes reading presidential memoirs. Grade: A-

  2. 5 out of 5

    Brian Schwartz

    This memoir was the most extensive commentary Gerald Ford ever provided regarding American politics. He granted several interviews over the years, but they were usually short and not very introspective. Ford was perfectly willing to retire from the public eye and concentrate on serving on the boards of directors of various businesses. Unlike most ex-presidents who work hard to achieve elder statesman status to either rehabilitate or firm up their place in history, Ford was satisfied with what he This memoir was the most extensive commentary Gerald Ford ever provided regarding American politics. He granted several interviews over the years, but they were usually short and not very introspective. Ford was perfectly willing to retire from the public eye and concentrate on serving on the boards of directors of various businesses. Unlike most ex-presidents who work hard to achieve elder statesman status to either rehabilitate or firm up their place in history, Ford was satisfied with what he'd done in his years of public service. Ford's intelligence was often underestimated. While he was never called an "amiable dunce" as Clark Clifford once called Ronald Reagan, he never developed a reputation as a brilliant strategist nor was he gifted with a knack for policy development. However, in reading his memoirs, you find a man very comfortable with himself and his decisions. While their politics, demeanor, and conduct of the office were quite different, Ford very much resembles Harry Truman in his self-confidence. Ford's post presidential conduct resembled Harry Truman who left office as one of the most unpopular presidents in history. America lost a national treasure when it lost Gerald Ford. Carter promised us he'd never lie to us and he almost made it. Ford was also just as honest and forthright in his conduct through his public career and was a superior president to Carter. Ford, who never wanted to lead the country, led it through its most difficult constitutional crisis as well as one of its most difficult periods of foreign relations. He will never get the credit he deserves simply because of the shortness of his presidency.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mmiller400m

    My long quest to read a book about every president going backwards continues. There were a number of interesting thoughts I had while reading through this. This was the first book of the series that I've somewhat regretted reading Carter's first. I would have liked to revisit Carters book with the knowledge I've gained here. One interesting point was how close the primary with Reagan was as well as how close the election with Carter ended up being. There were a few more reasons to hate Reagan fr My long quest to read a book about every president going backwards continues. There were a number of interesting thoughts I had while reading through this. This was the first book of the series that I've somewhat regretted reading Carter's first. I would have liked to revisit Carters book with the knowledge I've gained here. One interesting point was how close the primary with Reagan was as well as how close the election with Carter ended up being. There were a few more reasons to hate Reagan from this book. I think I can honestly say that Ford was the last Republican President that was a good man and a good President. He was given an impossible task in trying to clean up after Watergate. If he was given 4 more years, I'm confident he would have done well. Something that stuck out to me was the 60 Minutes interview with Betty Ford. In it she mentioned both her pro-choice stance as well as her thoughts about marijuana. She would definitely be seen as very liberal today on those issues. It was interesting reading how Ford thought Carter was touting his religion a little much when that certainly has become a Republican thing from Reagan on and one of my biggest problems with the current political climate. It was also interesting to see how such a little thing could turn into a scandal or wind up being a huge issue. Compare that to today and it's completely different. I wish the Republican Party of today had 10% of the values and character that the Republican's of Ford's time had.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sher

    I've been reading this concurrently with Hillary Clinton's new autobiography/memoir. Ford's writing is easy and straightforward. He uses these pages to explain himself and to give a sense of what it was like for him to follow Nixon. Like so many others, he found Nixon quite believable, and in many ways he continued to support him. Ford looks back on what he did wrong- how things could have turned out differently. I was struck how he stood firm on not simulating the economy when he knew it would I've been reading this concurrently with Hillary Clinton's new autobiography/memoir. Ford's writing is easy and straightforward. He uses these pages to explain himself and to give a sense of what it was like for him to follow Nixon. Like so many others, he found Nixon quite believable, and in many ways he continued to support him. Ford looks back on what he did wrong- how things could have turned out differently. I was struck how he stood firm on not simulating the economy when he knew it would cause more deficit in the future and he knew it would be an unpopular decision. He thought this was the right thing to do. I found the last part of the book discussing moment by moment the campaign against Carter interesting, in part, because I was reading about Hillary's campaign against Trump at the same time. Lots of similarities in tone and explanation - though her loss was much more shocking to media and Democrats. This book casts Carter in an unfavorable politician light- this surprised me a bit. Some insight into Betty his extrovert wife, and also a sense of the Whitehouse club experience being on the in crowd. He called the book a Time to Heal, because post Nixon's resignation taint was always on his mind, and this feeling that America had been through a series moral blow hung in the air.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dick

    Gerry Ford - class act. He pardoned Nixon knowing full well there would be a big political price to pay. He did because he did not think the agony of what had gone and how it was ripping the country apart should go one any more. He did the right thing. Even his political opponents who chastised him at the time, have now come around and said he did the right thing. This book is a prize of mine. I always like Ford, ethical and honest and grounded. Sent to him to autograph which he did - with a fin Gerry Ford - class act. He pardoned Nixon knowing full well there would be a big political price to pay. He did because he did not think the agony of what had gone and how it was ripping the country apart should go one any more. He did the right thing. Even his political opponents who chastised him at the time, have now come around and said he did the right thing. This book is a prize of mine. I always like Ford, ethical and honest and grounded. Sent to him to autograph which he did - with a fine inscription. Did not hurt that Ford was a UM grad, either.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cecilia

    Gerald R. Ford's autobiography. I visited his presidential library which is located on the campus of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan. His is the only presidential library where the documents are stored in one place and artifacts stored in another (Grand Rapids, Michigan). Ann Arbor is where Gerald Ford went to university and Grand Rapids is where he lived - hence the two different locations. Not about the book, it is as bland and low key (I'm trying not to say boring). He talks a Gerald R. Ford's autobiography. I visited his presidential library which is located on the campus of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan. His is the only presidential library where the documents are stored in one place and artifacts stored in another (Grand Rapids, Michigan). Ann Arbor is where Gerald Ford went to university and Grand Rapids is where he lived - hence the two different locations. Not about the book, it is as bland and low key (I'm trying not to say boring). He talks a lot about the functions of the two of the three branches of the US government which is interesting and enlightening. The Presidency and the Congress are often in conflict with each other as is evident even today. The interesting angel with Ford and the Congress however - even though it was a Democratic majority - is that he expected to have more support from his former Republican colleagues than he actually received. Given the manner in which he succeeded to the highest office in the Land and the "baggage" he carried from his predecessor - Nixon, he really never could have risen to the level of a President who accomplished great things during his short 2 year term in the office. All in all, an educational look at US government and the character - or lack thereof - which individuals bring to the various offices.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Raymond

    Not every American president perceived a mission as he took office. Those who recognized a mission did not make a straight-forward, succinct statement regarding their mission. President Gerald Ford made his mission statement the title of his memoir. “A Time to Heal.” Following the extraordinary upheavals and doubts and outcries attending Richard Nixon’s Watergate capers., Ford - Nixon’s hand-picked successor - recognized partisanship needed to be muffled and the country needed to be united behin Not every American president perceived a mission as he took office. Those who recognized a mission did not make a straight-forward, succinct statement regarding their mission. President Gerald Ford made his mission statement the title of his memoir. “A Time to Heal.” Following the extraordinary upheavals and doubts and outcries attending Richard Nixon’s Watergate capers., Ford - Nixon’s hand-picked successor - recognized partisanship needed to be muffled and the country needed to be united behind new efforts. Historians already give Gerald Ford credit for a successful, brief presidency; his stock seems to rise with the passing of years. Gerald Ford’s memoir is not a “great book” but it is an accurate reflection of its author, and fascinating for that fact. It may be the most easily-read of presidential autobiographies.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kati

    I realized I didn't know much about Gerald Ford, besides him taking over as president following Watergate. He actually spent a lot of time in Congress and I was intrigued to learn more about his decades of experience there, particularly in the minority party. However, Ford fails to define himself much beyond the perils of the post-Nixon era, although he does attempt to set the record straight on a number of occasions (as many political memoirs do). I enjoyed learning a bit more about his decisio I realized I didn't know much about Gerald Ford, besides him taking over as president following Watergate. He actually spent a lot of time in Congress and I was intrigued to learn more about his decades of experience there, particularly in the minority party. However, Ford fails to define himself much beyond the perils of the post-Nixon era, although he does attempt to set the record straight on a number of occasions (as many political memoirs do). I enjoyed learning a bit more about his decision-making approach, and his explanations of his actions, along with his more humble, human moments. I only winced a few times at some references to social programs of government run amok and redistribution of wealth. Written well, but a bit long. He also only really explains what he is comfortable explaining. I would stick with a shorter biography. But entertaining for political junkies.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lenita

    I really enjoyed this book, got to know more about the person of Gerald R. Ford. Always admired him and thought he got a bum rap. He did what his conscience told him to do, at least he followed through on his principles. He always only wanted to be Speaker of the House. Too bad we don't have him to open the strategic oil reserves to drop the price of oil now! A great memoir, truly worth reading.... I really enjoyed this book, got to know more about the person of Gerald R. Ford. Always admired him and thought he got a bum rap. He did what his conscience told him to do, at least he followed through on his principles. He always only wanted to be Speaker of the House. Too bad we don't have him to open the strategic oil reserves to drop the price of oil now! A great memoir, truly worth reading....

  10. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    A good book, but rather dry...definitely a man of integrity, but I don't envision him as much fun to party with. His reputation as being honest, hardworking, competant, and a bit "charisma challenged" has not been changed by this book. But we as a country are quite lucky to have had him as president after the crisis manufactured by Nixon. A good book, but rather dry...definitely a man of integrity, but I don't envision him as much fun to party with. His reputation as being honest, hardworking, competant, and a bit "charisma challenged" has not been changed by this book. But we as a country are quite lucky to have had him as president after the crisis manufactured by Nixon.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Don Heiman

    President Ford's autobiography is frank and revealing. He inherited an impossible situation when Nixon resigned the presidency. The economy and SALT talks challenged his practical disposition. His economy decisions benefited me personally and profoundly shaped my life. i admire his candor and tenacity. President Ford's autobiography is frank and revealing. He inherited an impossible situation when Nixon resigned the presidency. The economy and SALT talks challenged his practical disposition. His economy decisions benefited me personally and profoundly shaped my life. i admire his candor and tenacity.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Koehler

    Honest and engaging. It’s a pretty quick read compared to other presidential biographies but the topics covered are covered thoroughly and I felt I gained significant insight into Ford’s reasoning on decisions. Some golden nuggets buried in this book include Fords deliberations on Nixon’s pardon and his 76 primary challenge from Reagan. I enjoyed this more than I expected to.

  13. 5 out of 5

    James

    A rather well-written book about an under-rated President. He was unelected and served a short term. As President (and the book handles this well) he sought to heal the country's trauma from the lengthy Watergate scandal. A rather well-written book about an under-rated President. He was unelected and served a short term. As President (and the book handles this well) he sought to heal the country's trauma from the lengthy Watergate scandal.

  14. 4 out of 5

    David-jacky Breech

    Though it was a short Presidency he did more to heal the country and save the Presidency then any one before. Must read for any Presidential buff. He almost beat Carter and would have if he did not have to spend time running against Reagan in the Primaries.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Wayne

    A very well written book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Toesnorth's mom

    good!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Douglas Graney

    Pleasant memoir from a steady fellow.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mirëdon Fusha

    I could surely tolerate some diplomacy even in autobiographies but too much of it ruins the book! Overall, it wasn't that bad! I could surely tolerate some diplomacy even in autobiographies but too much of it ruins the book! Overall, it wasn't that bad!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Not as much on his childhood or days in the House as I would have liked (particularly given how he said he felt the House was his home), but not a bad read. I do not envy him having to follow Nixon.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alan Kimball

    A interesting account of President's Ford life by the man himself and why he did a lot of the things he did including pardon Richard Nixon. A interesting account of President's Ford life by the man himself and why he did a lot of the things he did including pardon Richard Nixon.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Calvin

    A bit self-serving in his rememberances-and he decides to ignore he campaign to impeach Justice Douglas at the request of the Nixon White House.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    The 38th president of the USA certainly gave an appropriate title to his memoirs, Post Watergate was a time where healing was needed. Born Leslie Lynch King in Omaha, Nebraska when his mom divorced and remarried Gerald R. Ford young Mr. King took his name and became Gerald R. Ford, Jr. The family moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan where Ford grew up. Ford was an athlete and football provided scholarships both for both for the University of Michigan and Yale Law School. World War 2 came and Ford saw acti The 38th president of the USA certainly gave an appropriate title to his memoirs, Post Watergate was a time where healing was needed. Born Leslie Lynch King in Omaha, Nebraska when his mom divorced and remarried Gerald R. Ford young Mr. King took his name and became Gerald R. Ford, Jr. The family moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan where Ford grew up. Ford was an athlete and football provided scholarships both for both for the University of Michigan and Yale Law School. World War 2 came and Ford saw action in the Pacific at many famous battles. He also found time post war before embarking on a political career to marry Betty Bloomer and they had 3 boys and a girl. Ford's all American looking family was a great asset to him in his career. Grand Rapids was in a heavy Republican area and Ford in 1948 challenged the incumbent Representative Bartel Jonkman who was an isolationist. Ford had been one before Pearl Harbor but changed his views and was a confirmed internationalist and ran as such and beat Jonkman. What you saw with Ford is what you got, a genial likable ex-jock who no one had an unkind word for on either side of the aisle in the House. He kept getting re-elected and in 1965 challenged House Minority Leader Charles Halleck for the Minority Leadership and won. It gave Ford the vantage point he needed for what was his ambition, to become Speaker of the House should the Republicans gain a majority. Fate had a different plan because the likable and trusted Mr. Ford was just what Richard Nixon needed in replacing his Vice President Spiro Agnew who resigned. Nixon and the whole country realized that with Nixon in trouble over Watergate Ford could become president our first unelected president. That he did on August 9, 1974. Ford's presidency was to be sure a stopgap one. But it was necessary after the foul stench of the Watergate scandal, fresh political air was needed badly. He did decide to seek re-election in his own right in a lousy Republican year. An underdog Democratic Governor of Georgia named Jimmy Carter won the Democratic nomination and was leading Ford in some polls by as much as 30%. Ford had a bitter struggle for the nomination itself with former California governor Ronald Reagan. Reagan probably did have the hearts and minds of the party, but Ford made skillful use of the incumbency to gain the nomination. The elections of 74 and 76 were as bad as it could get for the GOP. Nevertheless Ford persisted and nearly pulled it off. Gerald Ford was a modest and decent man whose good character shows in these memoirs. Ford probably lost the 76 election on the day he issued a pardon to Nixon for Watergate offenses. He was good and pilloried for that, but it was necessary for healing of the body politic. Ford lived until 2006 and died respected by all. His presidency was truly a time for healing.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Harrison

    There is a lot to admire about President Ford’s character, and in his autobiography a picture is given of a man who led the nation in a time of need. The presidency was never something Gerald Ford sought in his life and that is perfectly clear in this autobiography, in fact he was intending to retire right before Richard Nixon asked him to be his Vice President as Spiro Agnew was stepping down from scandal. Ford is often dubbed as the most honest man to hold the presidency, I think that’s probab There is a lot to admire about President Ford’s character, and in his autobiography a picture is given of a man who led the nation in a time of need. The presidency was never something Gerald Ford sought in his life and that is perfectly clear in this autobiography, in fact he was intending to retire right before Richard Nixon asked him to be his Vice President as Spiro Agnew was stepping down from scandal. Ford is often dubbed as the most honest man to hold the presidency, I think that’s probably true. It’s refreshing to read about a President with a high moral character who was willing to be forth coming and honest with the American people. This autobiography is heavily focused on the presidency, glossing over lots of his early life and time as a congressman. I found the most compelling parts of the book to be Ford’s conversations with Nixon right before he resigned, and the denial Nixon was in during the late stages of the Watergate scandal. The last chapters of the Vietnam War were also fascinating, and yet painful to read about after all the lives lost. In the end you feel a little sorry for Ford, losing the election narrowly the Carter. President Ford was a good man and a good president.

  24. 4 out of 5

    John Preston

    “A Time to Heal” was the next book in my Presidential writings list. I started with President Obama and am working my way backwards selecting a book written by each President (when done I will select something from Presidents after Obama). The book opens with the events leading up to Nixon's resignation and Ford's ascension to the Presidency. These were the most captivating chapters in the book. After this first section, Ford then moves through life events chronologically up to his last days in t “A Time to Heal” was the next book in my Presidential writings list. I started with President Obama and am working my way backwards selecting a book written by each President (when done I will select something from Presidents after Obama). The book opens with the events leading up to Nixon's resignation and Ford's ascension to the Presidency. These were the most captivating chapters in the book. After this first section, Ford then moves through life events chronologically up to his last days in the White House. His descriptions of each event were mostly absent of any emotion or passion. There were a few paragraphs here and there describing his philosophy or vision for country, but it was a very sanitized account of his life. The most moving exerts were about his wife Betty's cancer diagnosis and treatment. My two-star rating seems low but describes how I feel "it was ok." The book was very well written just not very interesting.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    No matter your political affiliation, this is an engaging, thorough and well written memoir of our 38th President who assumed the office after the resignation of Richard Nixon. Most of the memoir is focused on his presidency, although there is enough background given to cement his image as a dedicated, hard working and genial family man. No question that Ford sought to mend the political upheaval occasioned by Nixon’s resignation and this mission comes through here. The memoir touches upon the iss No matter your political affiliation, this is an engaging, thorough and well written memoir of our 38th President who assumed the office after the resignation of Richard Nixon. Most of the memoir is focused on his presidency, although there is enough background given to cement his image as a dedicated, hard working and genial family man. No question that Ford sought to mend the political upheaval occasioned by Nixon’s resignation and this mission comes through here. The memoir touches upon the issues in the country besides Watergate which included inflation, energy and the Vietnam War. Ford’s conservatism is evident in his economic policies, but there is a sense that he was trying to work with Democrats, something that is well needed today. The episodes with his family showcase his devotion to them. I wish there were more about his courtship and marriage to his wife, Betty, whose strong spirit is refreshing. Every once in a while, I was startled by his forthright assessments of other political leaders such as Nixon and Reagan. I’m Overall, a very enjoyable political memoir.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    This book helped me realize that the current political and media environment is nothing new. Partisan politics is a well worn tradition and President Ford really caught it heavily. He never had a chance with so little cooperation from Congress - certainly Nixon’s missteps did not help, but neither did Reagan in terms of the 1976 campaign. Ford seemed to think deeply on critical decisions and mostly made decisions he thought best served the country and not partisan politics. But nowadays we all sh This book helped me realize that the current political and media environment is nothing new. Partisan politics is a well worn tradition and President Ford really caught it heavily. He never had a chance with so little cooperation from Congress - certainly Nixon’s missteps did not help, but neither did Reagan in terms of the 1976 campaign. Ford seemed to think deeply on critical decisions and mostly made decisions he thought best served the country and not partisan politics. But nowadays we all should realize that in general politicians are in it for themselves, not what’s best for the nation or it’s citizens.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Danhauer

    An excellent, very readable and eminently informative book on the life of undoubtably our most misunderstood and under appreciated President of modern times. The only man, arguably, who could have brought the nation together after Watergate and moved the nation on.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Ford is not someone I knew anything about, so this was educational for me. He sounds like he was a good man. I had no idea he was offered a job as a player in the NFL.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Fitzgerald

  30. 4 out of 5

    Frank J

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