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Gerald Ford and the Challenges of the 1970s Hardcover – April 22, 2005

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Editorial Reviews


"One of the best presidential biographies I have read. It explains the rise of the Republican Party as a ruling majority today. It is fast paced and extremely well written. It is a worthy assessment of Mr. Ford's presidency."―(Lanett, AL) Valley Times-News

"The reader come away from reading this fine and impeccably researched book with a new appreciation for Gerald Ford as a sophisticated thinker and a person with a consistent vision for the nation's domestic and international policy. . . . Succeeds admirably as a political biography."―Business History Review

"In this impressive book, he argues that Ford's tenure as president deserves more consideration and even praise than it has often received. After reading it, one is hard pressed to disagree with the author's conclusion."―H-Net Reviews

"A welcome study of an unusual American president."―Journal of American History

"This ambitious work calls for a reexamination of the Ford presidency in light of the formidable challenges he faced upon taking office. A welcome and important addition to the literature on the Ford presidency."―Library Journal

"Adds a great deal to our understanding of Ford's priorities and guiding philosophy for the nation's domestic and international policies. Mieczkowski shows within a broad historical context how Ford dealt with the challenges the country faced during the mid-1970s."―Michigan Historical Review

"By a masterful analysis, Mieczkowski shows how Ford restored credibility to government and promoted amicable relations with Congres."―Richard Lowitt, University of Oklahoma

About the Author

Yanek Mieczkowski, professor of history at Dowling College, is the author of The Routledge Historical Atlas of Presidential Elections and Eisenhower's Sputnik Moment: The Race for Space and World Prestige.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky (April 22, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813123496
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813123493
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #662,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Hogan on November 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An entertaining and historically necessary re-evaluation of one of our most underrated Presidents. Largely remembered for falling down, Mieczkowski shows how Ford's personal honesty, lack of arrogance or secrecy and willingness to let Congress, despite their largely successful attempt to thwart Ford's policy initiatives to regain their sense of power after four terms of an "Imperial Presidency" was exactly what America needed after the trauma of Watergate and Vietnam.

Ford never had any interest in seeking the Presidency. He was happy to stay in Congress, dreaming of being Speaker of the House. As Mieczkowski mentions, it takes a pretty big ego and a lot of ruthlessness to decide to run for President, make through the primaries and come out on top in November. As an "accidental" President who was never elected, Ford has perhaps the unique distinction of having smallest ego of any sitting President, an important bending of the stick after years of Nixon and Johnson.

Ironically despite being one of the most open Presidents when it came to press, he was mercilessly ridiculed by them, leading to his klutzy reputation. After Watergate and the 60's rebellion, no one was willing to trust anyone in authority and Ford had the bad luck to come into office when he did. Many who did attack him (even Chevy Chase as the book recounts) would latter regret it.

Mieczkowski also does a good job of reminding readers was a state of crisis America was in the mid- 1970's. Rampart inflation, out of control energy prices and a generalized lack of confidence in the future and our leaders were all problems Ford inherited and tried his best to confront.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a very good book that looks back at the Ford presidency in an unbiased way and examines almost every aspect of Ford's term in office, including his foreign policy and leadership style. Ford actually understood economic policy better than any postwar president, having spent fourteen years on the House Appropriations Committee in Congress - his actual goal had been to be Speaker of the House. Facing unprecedented increases in inflation and the rate of unemployment, Ford insisted that controlling inflation would serve the country better in the long run than trying to reach full employment. Therefore, he fought hard to decrease government spending and deregulate industry rather than promoting jobs programs or accepting the price controls advocated by many in Congress, which his predecessor had attempted with disastrous results. Before he left office, inflation had been cut by more than one half and the number of Americans without jobs was declining. However, it was not enough to save him from defeat in the 1976 elections. Only after the disastrous Carter administration did the federal government and the nation actually have the political will to implement Ford's original suggestions more fully during the Reagan years - and they worked.

The book does a good job of detailing how the energy problems and inflation that plagued Ford were not of his making, and would have caused problems for any president. Also detailed are the unparalleled expectations of the American public at that time, having just finished exiting the unprecedented 25 year-long post-war boom as well as the radical nature of the Congress that Ford had to work with that was ushered in during the 1974 elections almost immediately post-Watergate.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Smallridge on January 26, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Although this reads like an academic text, it is a GOOD academic text. The work fully illuminates the problems that Ford dealt with,(both domestic and foreign) and brings to life the 1970s. Mieczkowski is a great writer and is very good at throwing in numerous details to keep the reader engaged.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book not only for summarizing the presidency of Gerald Ford but also for understanding of how the 1970's changed America. For those who wish to understand 2008 and the problems facing the election and the country they only have to look back to this time in history where unbridled disgust of the government and economic woes were abound. As past reviewers have stated this book does an excellent job of looking at how the Ford presidency shaped the America and provides a necessary reevaluation of the times. While Truman got his mythical bounce during the Ford era it may be in the times of the 2008 election and George W Bush that Ford may see his redemption. Ford faced a challenge unlike many presidents and as the author states "Ford may have been elected at the most unlucky time in history" with a host of internal political strife, economic woes of inflation and soon to be rising unemployment, as well as falling world prestige. He approached these problems with honesty and common sense providing leadership that saved the Republican Party and possibly allowed the country to heal from the rifts. Despite not wining reelection Ford shaped the future by marshaling the economic forces of the time trying to give the Carter administration a policy to work with. As you read the energy policies in this book they smack of the very things being discussed in 2008 from CAFÉ standards to development of alternate energy standards. In all this is a fascinating book to read and I recommend it to all students of political history.
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