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Summary

In an extraordinary series of private interviews, conducted over 16 years with the stipulation that they not be released until after Gerald Ford's death, the 38th president of the United States reveals a profoundly different side of himself: funny, reflective, gossipy, strikingly candid, and the stuff of headlines.

In 1974, the award-winning journalist and author Thomas M. DeFrank, then a young correspondent for Newsweek, was interviewing Ford when the vice president blurted out something astonishingly indiscreet related to the White House, came around his desk, grabbed DeFrank's tie, and told the reporter he could not leave the room until he promised not to publish it. "Write it when I'm dead," he said - and that agreement formed the basis of their relationship for the next 32 years.

During that time, they talked frequently, but from 1991 to shortly before Ford's death in 2006, the interviews became something else: conversations between two men in which Ford talked in a way few presidents ever have. Here is the real Ford on his relationship with Richard Nixon (including the 1974 revelation which, in DeFrank's words, "will alter what history thinks it knows about the events that culminated in Ford's becoming president"); his experiences serving on the Warren Commission; his complex relationships with Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter; his startling, never-before-disclosed discussions with Bill Clinton during the latter's impeachment process; his opinions about both Bush administrations, the Iraq war, and many contemporary political figures; and much more. Here, also, are Ford's unguarded personal musings: about key cultural events; his own life, history, and passions; his beloved wife, Betty; and the frustrations of aging.

In all, it is an unprecedented audiobook - illuminating, entertaining, surprising, heartwarming, and, in several cases, historic.

©2007 Thomas M. DeFrank (P)2007 Penguin Audio, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating account

Interesting insight to the off the record thoughts of a President of the USA, touching on Watergate, Reagan and Clinton. A very personal account too of the later years of his life too.
Moving and insightful

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Rupe
  • 26-05-08

An easy historical listen...

I've been a Liberal since I came of age and shook off my midwest Republican upbringing. It began with hating Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford for pardoning him. I loathe Cheney and Rumsfeld who began their political rise with Ford. Yet here's a book that made me actually understand and even admire Ford. Nixon, Cheney and Rumsfeld I am still quite disgusted by of course, but the respect that the author had for Ford was contagious and that is a compliment to his writing. If you still have anger with those Watergate/Vietnam war days, this book is a healthy reflection.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Muttering Beduwen
  • 10-06-12

Jerry Ford reevaluated

Like many Americans I came to this book knowing very little about Ford, thinking of him only as somewhat accident prone stop gap completely forgettable American President. It should be noted that I still don't think much of consequence happened during his time in office. What this book did do was give me a keen appreciation of his insight into American politics. Through his decades in the house Ford developed a sixth sense for knowing who would rise to the top. After reading reading the book I found myself wondering what he would think of the party that now regards Ronald Regan as political saint and Ford's generation as soft and unprincipled?

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Lisa
  • 15-07-11

Nice book, good narrator, but not Will Patton

This is a really nice book to listen to, and Scott Brick does a great job. But buyer beware--Audible messed up the listing here, and they have Will Patton as the narrator.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Katherine
  • 08-08-10

More than I expected more than I remembered

I liked Gerald Ford when I was a young girl growing up in California. I too had a 5 minute meeting with the Charles Mason family that creeps me still, the aura of evil that radiated from the group is hard to forget. The attempts on Ford's life in California recounted in this oral history of private thoughts brought back a moment in history where I remembered a comment by the then Governor Jerry Brown, "California has more than its share of everything, including nuts." How I wonder, as apparently did Ford, is a letter from a would be killer worth more than one from Sadat? The world can be a topsy turvy place.


I truly enjoyed this nostagic account of great leadership and how fortunate we were to have the right man in the right place at the right time.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • JPALJ
  • 20-05-16

never really knew...

Tremendous insight into a conflicted figure. I grew up with Ford as president, watching him being lampooned on Saturday Night Live by Chevy Chase and ridiculed by my ultra-conservative family members. it was my dad who first suggested years later that Ford might have been a man of deeper character then I ever appreciated as a young child, which is what led me to this book. Leave it to my dad to recognize a person of strong character, which the author, assisted by the narrator, reveals through touching and humanizing passages about a man who lived honorably and honestly through difficult and unforgiving times. That Ford had uncertain beginings as a child makes the story that much more compelling.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Grant Wentworth
  • 07-02-15

Good background story

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Maybe, if they are a fan of presidential history.

Which scene was your favorite?

The man seemed to play alot of golf

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Not really

Any additional comments?

Good story

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Lisa Lindemann
  • 12-05-18

Then vs.now

I chose to read this book now as a counterpoint to current political events and atmosphere. A review of the times of Richard Nixon and Watergate are particularly instructive. I found the experience of getting to know Gerald Ford was valuable. I would certainly like to transpose this whole period of time on today. I would recommend this review of the past to anyone interested in politics and history.

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  • Jerry Geleff
  • 01-05-18

Who knew?

Who knew that the bumbling man who tripped and fell constantly, who was parodied by Chevy Chase so mercilessly as nothing but an accident, was actually exactly what America needed at the exact moment that he arrived? This book explains it all, and gives you a few heart tugging moments, too. I knew little about Ford before listening to this book, and have a greater appreciation for him now .

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  • Dianne M
  • 18-01-18

The Real VP Ford

Held my attention, good review how government works. New information about specific politicians and how they work together.k

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Marsha
  • 02-09-11

Not what I expected

I downloaded this audiobook specifically because I wanted to hear Will Patton narrating the words of Gerald Ford. This is NOT narrated by Will, it is someone else. I am greatly disappointed.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful