Ambition, Pragmatism, and Party
A Political Biography of Gerald R. Ford
University Press of Kansas 2017
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in BiographyNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in PoliticsNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network December 22, 2017 Mark Klobas
Catapulted into the Oval Office by an unusual set of circumstances, Gerald Ford remains a unique figure in American presidential history. In Ambition, Pragmatism, and Party: A Political Biography of Gerald R. Ford (University Press of Kansas, 2017), Scott Kaufman recounts the life and career of this often misunderstood leader. He sees the roots of Ford’s political ideology in his Michigan youth, where his stepfather and namesake stressed the importance of hard work and individual achievement. After working as a lawyer and serving in the navy during World War II Ford won election to Congress, where he set his sights on becoming Speaker of the House of Representatives. Frustrated in his aspirations, Ford was in the seeming twilight of his career when he was nominated to replace Spiro Agnew as vice president after Agnew’s resignation in 1973. Within eight months Richard Nixon’s resignation brought Ford to the presidency itself, where he grappled with the consequences of numerous shifts taking place both nationally and throughout the world. Though Ford aspired to election in his own right, his decision to pardon Nixon defined him to an increasingly cynical populace in ways that ultimately proved too difficult to overcome, contributing to his defeat in the 1976 presidential election.