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Time and Chance: Gerald Ford's Appointment with History Paperback – April 15, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Through an able retelling of the story of Watergate and Ford's ascension to the presidency, the author makes an arguable case for the integrity and accomplishments of the 38th president. Cannon, a former Newsweek editor who served as Ford's domestic policy adviser, writes in a brisk, episodic style, weaving together numerous interviews and documents, including excerpts from Ford's private papers. Cannon's sketch of Ford's youth in Grand Rapids, Mich. ("America at its best"), is deft, as is his account of Ford's political ascent, noting his subject's ability to cultivate people who could help him. In the background during the lengthy treatment of Watergate, Ford reappears when Cannon delves into how congressional leaders forced Nixon to choose their well-respected colleague to replace Vice President Spiro Agnew. About the reasoning behind Ford's pardon of Nixon, Cannon writes, "Ford simply believed it was the right thing to do." For Cannon, Ford's lack of showmanship was really a lack of pretense and one of the virtues that he believes made the Ford presidency as solid as the man himself. Photos.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

With the well-honed instincts of a former Newsweek editor and political adviser to President Ford and Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Cannon has produced a meticulously researched and beautifully crafted account of the political and personal style of Gerald R. Ford. Making heavy use of Ford's own papers and interviewing an impressive list of Ford intimates and administration personnel, Cannon provides a justifiably positive record of the life and times of the nation's first "instant President." Early chapters examine his difficult childhood prior to his mother's marriage to Gerald R. Ford, whose name he later adopted. While aficionados of political biography will enjoy the chapters detailing the young Representative Ford's climb up the House ladder, the real contribution of this work comes in the second half when Cannon details the agony of the new vice-president Ford, given the job on Spiro Agnew's political demise, as he watched his old friend and political colleague Richard Nixon destroy his presidency. Riveting and insight-filled, this book is highly recommended for all collections.
- Frank Kessler, Missouri Western State Coll., St. Joseph
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press (April 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0472084828
  • ISBN-13: 978-0472084821
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,662,608 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Steve Fast on October 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Cannon provides a fascinating account of how Gerald Ford went from planning in 1972 to retire from politics at the end of Nixon's term to becoming president of the United States. He covers Ford's childhood and life in the Navy and as a US representative in about 100 pages and spends most of the rest of the book discussing in amazing detail how he became vice-president and then president. The final chapter is a brief summary of Ford's presidential administration but nothing of life after politics.

The book is well-written and well-researched and remarkably free of bias, given that Cannon was a senior advisor in the Ford administration. Ford's decent and humble character is one of the themes of the book, as well as the idea that these traits are what led him to become president. His naivete is also evident.

As other reviewers have mentioned, the glaring weakness of the book is its brief coverage of Ford's administration, except for the issue of pardoning Nixon, which is covered in great detail.

I recommend the book as a tool for understanding Ford the man, for its careful analyis of the Watergate mess, and for describing how such a decent man could prosper in the cutthroat world of American politics. However, if you want to understand the policies of the Ford administration, you should look elsewhere.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Positive Guy on January 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
We as a country were extremely lucky and benefited greatly from the presidency of Gerald Ford. When he took over the presidency, this country was torn apart. Rather than appealing to the worst in American politics by pitting Americans against each other,(as has been done recently)he methodically and expertly began to bring us together.

The Republican Party that I belonged to during those times and under President Ford's leadership was largely free of radical fundamentalism and extreme right-wing positions. There were no Rush Limbaughs or Michael Savages. There were no nationally known ministers claiming natural disasters were the wrath of God visited on an apostate nation. The Ford presidency and the Republican Party of that time actually had concern for social issues and was quite progressive.

President Ford led by steady, common sense and a humble heart. I remember being so saddened by his loss to Jimmy Carter, knowing that we, as a nation, would lose such an able leader. After Carter's election, the Republican party decided to appeal to the fears, rather than the hopes and aspirations of America. Since that time there has never been an election where the American people were not thoroughly divided. Our political dialogue is absurdly partisan, and 'attack and spin' meisters are the order of the day on any news station. More than anything, I fondly wish we could return to civility and decency both in religion and politics.

Get this book and read about a very able, and thoroughly decent man who was there to serve his country when he was most needed. The details are fascinating.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
As a long time fan of Gerald Ford, I was pleased to read this excellent biography written by one who obviously also admires President Ford. Not only was it an interesting biography, but it was also a fascinating political thriller. Mr. Cannon pieced together a frightening, behind-the-scenes look of the Watergate break-in,the cover-up, the resignation of Spiro Agnew, and the machinations of Alexander Haig, during which time certain people (including Agnew) feared for their lives. He paints a picture of a President Nixon that is sinister and borderline mentally ill--who repeatedly used his office to intimidate his enemies and stop the investigation into Watergate. As I was reading the book and its details of Nixon's obstruciton of justice and illegal acts, the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton was ongoing. The issues surrounding the current impeachment appeared laughable in contrast to what I was reading of Nixon. Cannon supports Ford's claim that the pardon of Nixon was not the result of a deal with Nixon, but was Ford's only alternative to get the country moving again, with minute-by-minute accounts of those involved. Cannon makes the pardon seem as honorable as the man who gave it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Thomas A. Wheeler on November 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
Over the last several years, I've read more than 35 presidential biographies. I've used Amazon reviewers as very reliable guides to help me pick the best available biography. Time and Chance is highly recommended with one gigantic reservation. Reeves' book is tightly written in an almost breezy style. More than half of the book is a retelling of Watergate, and it is the most balanced and readable version of Watergate I've read.

Ford's difficult early childhood is covered as is his development into the all-American boy. His romance with a top model and his marriage to Betty are sympathetically explained. His service in World War II is well told, and we are given almost enough information about his years in the House of Representatives; however, I would have preferred more about Ford's responses to the many social issues that dominated the sixties.

Ford comes off as the ultimate straight-arrow, average kind of guy. Completely decent, unimaginative, pretty boring, and not altogether courageous in terms of dealing with people.

OK the failing. Except for Ford's decision to pardon Nixon which is described thoroughly, the rest of his presidency is given something like 25 pages. This is simply not enough. While Watergate and Ford's role in Nixon's resignation will be more remembered than Ford's actual presidency, I would have liked at least a more detailed synopsis of his challenges while he was president (in this respect Nagel`s excellent biography of John Quincy Adams has precisely the same problem). Up until now I've avoided the presidential books that only covered the presidential years, but for Gerald Ford probably a combination of Time and Chance and an overview of his presidency would be the best way to go.
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