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31 Days: The Crisis That Gave Us the Government We Have Today Hardcover – April 11, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Two heavy hitters in the current administration—Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney—played roles of minor importance in the vital 31 days separating Richard Nixon's resignation and Gerald Ford's decision to pardon the disgraced leader. Rumsfeld served as ambassador to NATO and worked on the transition; Cheney was his deputy. Both were already well positioned for stellar careers, so it's hard to buy the argument proposed by Werth, author of the acclaimed The Scarlet Professor, that Ford's first month in office was the tumultuous staging area for power for these two power players. This quibble aside, Werth provides a balanced fly-on-the-wall account of the byzantine intrigues that defined the first weeks of Ford's accidental presidency. Such Nixon partisans as Al Haig, Ron Ziegler and Henry Kissinger engage in petty turf battles with Ford press secretary Jerry terHorst, Nelson Rockefeller and other Ford loyalists. Meanwhile, Bush Sr.—then chair of the National Republican Committee—shuttles in and out of the picture, somewhat confused as to which side of the fight he should join. Werth has talked to many of the players to build a well-crafted book. It's a story that has been told more than once—but rarely so well or in such depth as it is here. (On sale Apr. 11)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Barry Werth has written a crackling and instructive account of the tumultuous time when Gerald Ford moved into the Oval Office following the resignation of President Nixon. The power struggles, legal maneuvers, personality conflicts, and big stakes all add up to a whodunit on a grand scale. I was there -- and I was thrilled to make the trip again."
Tom Brokaw

"A riveting, minute-by-minute account of 31 days that affected our nation, with relevance to everything that has happened since -- Rumsfeld and Cheney were shaped by those days, and their importance to us today is clear."
Richard Holbrooke

"In this fast-paced narrative, Barry Werth has captured the excitement of the scary days just after Nixon resigned. It's a great inside glimpse at how government works, plus it reveals how some of today's power players including Cheney and Rumsfeld got their start."
Walter Isaacson

"A painstaking reconstruction of the period between Richard Nixon's resignation, in August of 1974, and his pardon a month later. Never has the Ford administration seemed so gripping."
The Atlantic Monthly

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Nan A. Talese (April 11, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385513801
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385513807
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,136,930 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Jon Hunt on April 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
For those of us old enough to remember the summer of 1974 when the House Judiciary Committee voted articles of impeachment which ultimately led to the resignation of Richard Nixon, Barry Werth's new book, "31 Days" is a wonderful chronicle of that time. Although the book begins with the Nixon resignation (after the House vote) and ends essentially with Gerald Ford's pardon of Nixon, Werth presents a fascinating view of 1974....not only regarding the political scene but related areas which affected President Ford during his first month in office.

Needless to say, Ford entered the presidency as no one before him had. He needed to make decisions about the soaring inflation the United States was facing as well as growing unemployment on the homefront. In international policy Ford had to address not only the beleaguered American presence in Vietnam, the continuing problems in the Middle East but also a coup and subsequent Turkish invasion of Cyprus. On top of that Ford needed to find a vice-president.... to replace himself. However, the largest piece of the picture was what would Ford do with Nixon? "31 Days" centers around this aspect and it's a fascinating walk down memory lane.

How it was that Gerald Ford decided how and when to pardon the disgraced former president makes "31 Days" riveting. No one had a clue that Ford would use his power of pardon and Werth accurately describes the aftermath of that early September announcement. The honeymoon Ford enjoyed was over in a flash. Yet it is also a good connection that the author makes about how Ford might have decided things with regard to Nixon....
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Karen Spencer on April 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My first political job was in President Ford's White House in 1975. I went in at a very low level, and on my second day all the Nixon people quit. I had no idea what I was doing, however, people who did were brought in did, it was an open environment, and we did what we had to do. Fortunately, I wasn't in charge of national security.

This book is excellent. I have worked in many political jobs and around many politicians since President Ford. What he did for our country needs to recognized. It's time to do that. This book is an excellent start.

It reads like the show "24." I think then people around President Ford are written well. And it is like reading people's mind.

I do believe that if President Ford's first 31 days were dealing with the Nixon papers, the Nixon people, and the Nixon pardon --- among running the nation, run away inflation, and foreign policy. Thank you, Mr Werth, for reminding us that President Ford is responsible for Alan Greenspan.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Richard Donovan on April 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I can remember the sigh of relief that everyone breathed when President Nixon resigned. Even jaded talk show hosts--here I'm thinking of WBZ's late Jerry Williams--called Jerry Ford, "a breath of fresh air" when he assumed office.

The book offers a fascinating look into the behind the scenes maneuvering that went on between the (relatively) Boy Scout-like Ford staff and the Nixon White House holdovers.

Yes, it is true that Ford made things much more difficult for himself when he pardoned Nixon. Still, it was a matter of putting his own political career and Republican aspirations aside for a larger consideration, that being the welfare of the country. Can you imagine someone doing that today with this being the age of Delay et al?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By William D. Tompkins on September 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Nixon falls and we escalate Ford into the Presidency, after Agnew was knocked out of the picture as well. The brillance of our goverment and this book is that there were no tanks, no soldiers, no havoc. There was confusion and this book details how our goverment functioned during the most internal strife in the history of the Presidency that was not Assasination related. The author portrays Ford's intent to be a moral and strong leader very effectively. The book could have benefitted with some pictures from that period in time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Timothy S. Hays on May 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
31 Days is, for those of us who grew up during the period known as "The Watergate Era," a wondrous refresher on the perilous times of Summer 1974, when President Nixon was on the verge of impeachment and Vice President Ford was elevated to the presidency on Nixon's resignation. This period led to the only time in US history where both top officials of our government had not been chosen by voters in a national election.

I remember August 9, 1974 vividly. I was a junior at UCLA, and a Republican who had worked in the campaign of Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1970. (I remain a Republican today.) Nixon's gambit during a constitutional crisis came in a time when news and its analysis was slow to disseminate other than through the reporting of the "Big Three" networks and some responsible newspapers. (Me, I trusted Howard K. Smith and John Chancellor, even when they were at odds with one another.) I gave Nixon the benefit of the doubt, and, truth be told, despised his accusers, a bunch of radical, anti-nuke beards, until Senator Barry Goldwater decided against Nixon's alibis. Gerald R. Ford was inaugurated on August 9th, and told the country, "Our long national nightmare. . .is over." I liked Ford immediately, and do, to this day.

Werth has put together an outstanding book that will remind readers of "No Ordinary Time," Doris Kearns' magnificent history of the White House during World War II. Reason? Werth pieces together the most pertinent secondary sources-- Watergate histories, polemics, biographies, and autobiographies, news clips, court testimonies, etc.
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