Gerald R. Ford

An Honorable Life
James Cannon
Afterword by Scott Cannon


“Not since Harry Truman succeeded Franklin D. Roosevelt twenty-nine years earlier had the American people known so little about a man who had stepped forward from obscurity to take the oath of office as President of the United States.”
—from Chapter 4

This is a comprehensive narrative account of the life of Gerald Ford written by one of his closest advisers, James Cannon. Written with unique insight and benefiting from personal interviews with President Ford in his last years, Gerald R. Ford: An Honorable Life is James Cannon’s final look at the simple and honest man from the Midwest.

“This is the indispensable book on the short but astonishing presidency of Gerald Ford. As Ford’s chief White House aide on domestic policy, [James] Cannon had an insider’s view of how power was wielded by the unlikeliest of all possible presidents—an entirely ordinary citizen-politician devoid of overwhelming ego and free of imperial ambition. Cannon shows us why Ford was the ideal president for ending ‘our long national nightmare’—the  the Watergate scandal—and restoring the country’s shattered trust in government.”
—Russell Baker, Pulitzer Prize–winning writer

“James M. Cannon III recounts the Ford presidency, from the day Richard Nixon resigned through the 1980 Republican convention. He does so with a clarity that reminds all Americans that President Ford brought the nation through a divide much deeper than anything we have experienced except the Civil War. Especially for those who lament the deep political divisions America currently faces, Cannon’s biography of Gerald Ford reminds us that when in crisis we have been blessed periodically by quiet, highly ethical, and purposeful leadership that has put the country above personal and political gain. It is an inspiring read.”
—Robert P. Strauss, Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University

Praise for Time and Chance: Gerald Ford’s Appointment with History by James Cannon:

“James Cannon, formerly national affairs editor at Newsweek and Ford's domestic policy advisor, has written a superbly provocative and arresting biography that traces Ford's life from his July 4, 1913, birth in Omaha, Nebraska, to his September 8, 1974, decision to pardon Nixon of the Watergate conspiracy.”
Washington Post Book World

“The book provides us . . . with a perspective to better understand the events embroiling President Bill Clinton, Congress and the American people.”
—Eric Freedman, Detroit Sunday Journal, January 31, 1999

“Cannon leaves the reader with renewed respect for the man and admiration for his ability to fill the void created by the Nixon resignation.”
—Glenn Speer, Book: The Magazine for the Reading Life, July-August 2000

Jacket photograph: August 28, 1974; Ford holds his first press conference and gives conflicting answers on what he will do about Nixon. Photograph courtesy of the Gerald R. Ford Library.

James Cannon was a journalist, serving notably as a war correspondent in Korea and vice president of Newsweek, as well as Domestic Policy Adviser to President Ford and Chief of Staff to Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker. He published several books, including an authorized biography of Ford, Time and Chance: Gerald Ford’s Appointment with History (University of Michigan Press, 1998).

Praise / Awards

  • "The life of this honest and plain-spoken man...will delight historians and general readers alike."
    —Dr. Henry Kissinger
  • "In less than two and a half years—far more eventful and historically significant than hitherto imagined—Ford restored more than public trust. He gave us back our government. This is the story of how he did it, superbly told with an insider's insight and the objectivity of a reporter's reporter."
    —Richard Norton Smith, George Mason University

  • "This is a first-rate political history and a compassionate biography."
    Publishers Weekly

  • "[T]his insider account persuasively demonstrates that [Ford] was a far better president than campaigner and that, at a particularly low moment in our history, we were perhaps luckier than we knew to have him."

  • "Cannon portrays a man who, despite the shadow of the Nixon pardon clouding his presidency, maintained an honorable reputation in the often unsavory business of politics."

  • "The definitive biography to date on Gerald Ford. The narrative, frequently eloquent, particularly when detailing young [Ford’s] life, is crisp while capturing the essence and personality of Ford, a product of the deep midwestern values ingrained in the man who helped heal the nation’s wounds caused by Watergate and Vietnam."
    --Middle West Review

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Product Details

  • 512 pages.
  • 13 B&W Halftones; 4 Color Halftones.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2013
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-02946-4

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