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Taking Aim at the President: The Remarkable Story of the Woman Who Shot at Gerald Ford Hardcover – December 23, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

On September 22, 1975, Sara Jane Moore attempted to kill President Gerald Ford. Investigative journalist Spieler traces the unlikely assassin's convoluted path as the suburban housewife who abandoned her children meandered through relationships, marriages and careers ranging from bookkeeping to political activist turned FBI informant. Moore assumed varied personas, a skill she first displayed as an actress in high school. Despite three decades of contact with Moore, Spieler admits she still cannot explain what led Moore to attempt to kill Ford. But Spieler offers a portrait of an erratic, unstable woman with a protean capacity to shift identities, with the 1960s and '70s as a dramatic backdrop. Fans of true crime accounts or contemporary history will savor this portrait of the first woman to make an assassination attempt on an American president. (Jan. 12)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“Spieler offers a portrait of an erratic, unstable woman with a protean capacity to shift identities, with the 1960s and '70s as a dramatic backdrop. Fans of true crime accounts or contemporary history will savor this portrait of the first woman to make an assassination attempt on an American president.” ―Publishers Weekly

“It is the obligation of the thoughtful journalist to tell us something meaningful that we don't already know. In Taking Aim at the President, Geri Spieler is more than up to the task. The byzantine tale of Sara Jane Moore's double, triple and quadruple lives, with so many bizarre groups - including the federal government - exploiting her vulnerabilities, is the stuff of Hollywood fiction. The fact that it's all true, and told with precision by Spieler, raises Sara Jane's story to something significantly more than a footnote to history.” ―Alan Weisman, author of Prince of Darkness: Richard Perle, The Kingdom, the Power & the End of Empire in America and Lone Star: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Dan Rather

“Geri Spieler has done a marvelous job of unraveling the details surrounding one of the most bizarre events in American history, Sara Jane Moore's attack on Gerald Ford.
” ―James Dalessandro, author of 1906 and Citizen Jane

“A well-written, fascinating story about an inexplicable moment in American History.” ―Carl Stern, Professor of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University, and former NBC News correspondent

“Talk about truth being stranger than fiction! Captivating.” ―The San Francisco Chronicle

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (December 23, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230610234
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230610231
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.9 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,267,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Geri Spieler has taken her unique relationship with Sara Jane Moore and cashed-in with the only book out now about this complex and troubled woman. Spieler, with her "inside" access creates the illusion we are getting the full story about the bizarre life of Sara Jane Moore. What's bizarre here is the way she manipulates what we are allowed to know.

After having to research deeper into this book I found some very strange errors and omissions.

A completely inaccurate story about an amnesia episode then WAC PFC Sara Jane Kahn had in Washington, DC in May 1950. According to Spieler, Sara was touring the White House alone and without identification on a lovely cherry blossom time afternoon. A richly detailed account follows of her then collapsing on the White House lawn complete with Secret Service Agents rushing to her and taking her to Walter Reed Hospital for treatment. Nurses finding hidden photos of Sara in her dress then used in papers all over trying to identify the mystery woman with amnensia. Her mother in West Virginia and her estranged husband in Pennsylvania supposedly seeing the photos and rushing to her bedside to ID her. "Suspicious" FBI wondering about her. Suspicious indeed! Especially since you couldn't go near the White House in May 1950, as it was completely shelled to the bare walls inside having a massive modernization renovation.

Funny thing is when you read the actual SINGLE newspaper account that Spieler loosely cited on this yarn, the story doesn't match except it was Sara and she did have some sort of weird loss of memory episode. It's a lot more involved in items left untold in this fable, but there's only so much space available here to report the many holes in this story.
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I must add some caveats along with Mr. Maloy's:

I found this book somewhat hard to judge in terms of its reliability. The author is an investigative journalist, and for that reason I expected perhaps more caution; however, I suspect the problem areas lie more in her reliance on "outside" information than in her personal dealings with Mrs. Moore. Also, it is clear that Sara Jane Moore long had an inflated view of her own importance (a problem for her even during her time at PIN), which places an additional burden on her examiner. I'm pretty sure that Spieler pretty accurately has related Moore's personal story (as related by Moore), but I wish she had spent a little more time researching Moore's claims precisely because of Moore's own problem with telling it straight.

Also, Spieler makes other remarks which, frankly, are just off the wall. For example, she claims (apparently for the first time ever) that William Harris was a drug informer for the Indiana State Police and that Emily Harris was trained by the CIA. This is Mae Brussel conspiracy nonsense, and from the rest of my knowledge, I recognize the source for this to be jailhouse rap. The problem, of course, is that jailhouse rap is just that and obliges one to ask: If Spieler got that point so off-the-wall wrong, what else cannot be trusted?

Precisely the point made, I think, by Mr. Maloy.

I think Spieler does better in her one-on-ones with Moore, herself, and that makes the book worth reading for those who are students of the Hearst kidnapping or any of the incidents which spun from it.
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Geri Spieler has written a fascinating account of an often overlooked incident, and in so doing shakes up our idea of what a potential assassin looks like. The book is not only the story of a bizarre woman, but is also spot-on in its depiction of the political climate of the day. A must-read for anyone interested in left-wing politics and/or the motivation of a would-be assassin. A well-written, well-researched, compelling true story that at times reads like a mystery novel, and at times like the investigative journalism that it is.
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I read the book over the weekend. Wow, what a fast, interesting, read. As they say, I could not put it down. It was written in such a great article type narrative that it just flowed. The citations really made the book, otherwise it would have seemed like a figment of the author's imagination. I would recommend this book to all history buffs whose short attention span has made reading any book written in dry prose a deal breaker. I can't believe this has not been made into a movie, truth is stranger than fiction!
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I read this book so quickly because it is wonderfully entertaining and engrossing especially if you lived thru this while living right in the heart of it all. The book is a must for SLA buffs, there is lots of info you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else.
For me I totally get Sarah Jane, I think the definitive moment was that episode in the print shop with the cartoonist and the printer, they put the bug in her head. Word is this will soon be made into a movie! Kathy Bates as Sarah Jane???!!!
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