Richard Reeves
A Ford, not a Lincoln

A Ford, not a Lincoln

"Only eight months ago, when I last stood here, I told you I was a Ford, not a Lincoln. Tonight I say I am still a Ford, but I am not a Model T." --From the President's address delivered before a joint session of Congress, August 12, 1974

Richard Reeves, the former chief political correspondent of the New York Times, traces the rise of an ordinary, if extraordinarily nice, man to the White House. He tells the astonishing story of Ford's first 100 days in the nation's highest office, with its dramas of a Nixon White House ridden with feuds and full of disturbance; of its two overlords, Kissinger and Haig; of Ford's men grappling for footholds in the new regime. He describes the shock waves of the Nixon pardon, when the White House temprarily went out of Ford's control into chaos, and the open struggle for power that ensued in the absence of Presidential leadership. He gives fascinating glimpses into the ways the 213 million people of this great nation are actually governed, and describes a President shying away from the awesome responsibilities and duties of the office. Gerald Ford -- unprepared and unwilling to assert his authority, in desperation incessantly traveling the country, making speeches and pumping hands, to avoid his Presidential responsibilities.

A Ford, not a Lincoln is also the story of a new kind of politics: the politics of the lowest common denominator, the least objectionable alternative. The consequence is the desperate failure of political leadership today.


Reviews

"This is the first big book of the 1976 Presidential Campaign. It is written on behalf of no candidate, but it is certainly not going to help Gerald Ford very much. Reeve's report is frightening and provocative in its demystification of a President whose hallmark is his openness."

Paul D. Zimmerman, Newsweek

"It's Jerry Ford's good fortune that very few Americans read books and that most of those who do are Democrats anyway. For this is the most devastating hatchet job since Lizzie Borden gave her mother forty whacks. When Richard Reeves finishes with the President, nothing is left of him but a big grin lying in a pool of blood. . . . I enjoyed reading A Ford, not a Lincoln, because it's such a superb exercise in venom." Harold Levin, The Arizona Republic

"Reeves' pungent obervations and equally pungent style do go down well with many colleagues, editors, and even some critics who have panned the book. In a disapproving review last week, Conservative columnist William F. Buckley Jr. accused Reeves of exaggeration but nonetheless placed him 'among the two or three sprightliest political writers in America.'" Time

"Richard Reeves has written a truly provocative analysis of American politics. His book does for Gerald Ford what Gary Wills' Nixon Agonistes did for Richard Nixon, namely, present a new and wholly different view of a familiar subject. . . . So, after the obsequious paeans to Ford by John Hersey and Hugh Sidey, Reeves' skepticism and irreverence are as necessary as they are refreshing. . . . A Ford, not a Lincoln, will be an important book in next year's presidential campaign. . . . Reeves is an intelligent, often salty commentator who has no inhibitions about exposing the emperor's clothes." Steve Neal, Philadelphia Inquirer

"More than a narrow attack on Ford by a liberal Democratic author, A Ford, not a Lincoln contains cynical pokes at the entire U.S. political system and its members. Having seen both up close as the former chief political correspondent of the New York Times, Reeves expresses his frustration at the complacent electorate for allowing these humdrum, thick-witted legislators to gain success and seniority as a result of their ill-informed votes. Gerald Ford just happens to be the most prominent example of the current lot." Deam W. Given, Chicago Tribune


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