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31 Days: The Crisis That Gave Us the Government We Have Today
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31 Days: The Crisis That Gave Us the Government We Have Today

3.8  ·  Rating details ·  216 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
In 31 Days, Barry Werth takes readers inside the White House during the tumultuous days following Nixon’s resignation and the swearing-in of America’s “accidental president,” Gerald Ford. The congressional hearings, Nixon’s increasing paranoia, and, finally, the devastating revelations of the White House tapes had torn the country apart. Within the White House and the Repu ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published April 11th 2006 by Nan A. Talese
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For one moment in time it seemed that President Gerald Ford had it all. He was calm, he was caring, he was steadfast and most importantly he WASN'T Richard Nixon! For 31 days in the summer of 1974 it seemed he was truly invincible. Then he did something which most historians myself included still scratch their heads over and wonder why: he pardoned former President Nixon before he was even brought to trial for crimes he had supposedly committed during the height of the Watergate scandal.

I was bo
Apr 16, 2010 rated it liked it
When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was bad.

He did an especially good job when talking about Ford's history, his behind-the-scenes struggles those first days, and when mentioning now-big names, like Cheney, HW Bush, and Rumsfeld. The epilogue was very good too in discussing the implications of those 31 days for the next 31 years.

He did not do a good job when he talked about foreign policy. It was dry and often made you wanting more domestic, post-Watergate stuff instead of foreig
Nicholas Whyte[return][return]This account takes us from 9 August 1974, the day the Richard Nixon became the first US president to resign from office, to 8 September, the day that his successor, Gerald Ford, issued "a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969 through August 9, 1974."[return][return]The bo ...more
May 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
The book provides an interesting snap shot of the events surrounding the transition of Nixon to Ford. The book especially creates a sympathetic view of Ford. It also attempts to present an even handed view of Nixon, wisely choosing not to delve too much into what he did or did not do or know, but rather how he handled the aftermath. The author also has a highly readable, conversational style with a great deal of description(ala Bob Woodward), which may not satisfy historians and political scient ...more
Drew Steen
Oct 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
A phrase I never thought I'd say, or hear: "a gripping book about the Ford presidency". 31 Days examines the time between Ford's inauguration and his pardon. The value of the book, beyond the subject directly at hand, lies in its detailed examination of the daily activities of Ford and his top White House officials. This led to a realistic portrait of power relationships in Ford's administration (particularly, the power struggle between Nixon loyalists and Ford's people). If Ford's White House w ...more
Brian S. Wise
May 15, 2010 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. This book is never more interesting than when it gets into the Nixon pardon. I got the impression that the book Werth actually wanted to write was about that pardon; he could have cut 30 or so pages, reconfigured the rest, and gotten it. As it is, a perfectly acceptable book.

(Side note: the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan prominently displays several interesting letters Ford received for and against the Nixon pardon. These, along with actual W
David Bates
May 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Basically the author assembles a narrative of the first month of the Ford administration from public documents, publications and memoirs. It's peppered with little gems if you are really interested in Republican politics in the 1970s, and also with wince inducing passages where the prose gets a little wacky. I picture the editor as an alcoholic in the grim final days of his second marriage, blearily opening to random pages and commenting on them, but not more than twenty three or twenty four spr ...more
Margaret Sankey
Oct 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Werth reconstructs the first month of the Ford Presidency day by day, with the Cyprus crisis, economic problems, PanAm bailout, Vice Presidential search, debate over amnesty for Canadian ex-pat draft dodgers, wrangling over Nixon's papers, agonizing over Nixon's pardon, Evel Knievel and the many moods of General Haig. The point is well taken that this extraordinary moment in American government was also the formative point in the careers of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Greenspan, the Bush family, and a new ...more
Matt Sleepyness
May 20, 2012 rated it liked it
As it turns out, a chronicle of the days between Nixon's resignation and his pardon isn't quite as interesting as it is important. Some narrative flourishes, a nuanced portrait of Ford, and young(er) appearances by George HW Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Alan Greenspan help prop up the proceedings. If you're looking for by-the-numbers reportage of Republicans being Republicans in the 70's, you could do worse than 31 Days.
May 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The 31 days between Nixon's resignation and pardon. If I had any doubts about the negative influences that Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld had/have on our country, this book quickly dispelled them. Dick Cheney scares the daylights out of me.
Sep 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Good read for me as a now adult versus being a teenager during this important period. It was history in action that I was just tuned out of at the time. Lots of well-known people obviously. It was also a good quasi-biography of Gerald Ford during the very short time period.
Nicole Marble
Jun 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating look at the historic month following the resignation of Richard Nixon. In addition to Gerald Ford, also featured are Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. Fords story also overlaps with the Watergate scandal. A must read for all voters - especially those under 60.
Nov 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
I became interetsed in Ford after his public viewing at the Capitol building last January. He is/was an interesting guy that was in a no-win situation. It is also interesting to read about the retreads when they were young and less scary.
Jul 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A thoroughly surprising and enjoyable read about a political history I was not born to experience. It paints Ford's radical decency and belief in the office of the President was Nixon's naked self interest and cowardice.
Thomas Ptacek
Nov 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
Provides more in the way of biographical background on the Cheney-era GOP than insight on how and why it functions today, but more engrossing than I expected it to be.
David-jacky Breech
Jul 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: presidency
These are the 31 days that saved the Presidency. Ford had to do it then to start the healing and get the country out of Watergate. He ended the long national nightmare.
Feb 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is another book in my Richard Nixon- John Kennedy Collection. Whew!
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book! Never read a book about Watergate before so this was a good appetizer as it describes the first month of the Ford presidency. I now have a much better appreciation for the challenges Ford faced do to his unique ascendancy to the highest office in the land. How he faced the press, Nixon’s pardon, Nixon’s files/papers, inflation, Vietnam deserter amnesty and troubles in the Middle East gave me a better understanding of the times. The book also described countless individuals whom w ...more
Barry J. Mann
Some mistakes took me out of it...

It's a good read, but it lost me early when the author mentioned Nixon's Committee to Re-elect the President, and added the acronym 'CREEP'. It was actually the 'CRP.'

The author also mentioned a quote by Henry Kissinger, about Nixon's potential if only 'someone loved him.' Kissinger has stated that he didn't actually say that.

Mr. Werth got my money anyway, and I enjoyed most of it. I appreciate his effort to write about that strange period of history.
Judd Berthiaume
Sep 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For someone who doesn't have a comprehensive grasp of this turn of events, this was a solid recollection (if not a relatively pro-Ford view) of the events as well as a fascinating look at some of the behind-the-scenes maneuverings. I have recently been to the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Mich., and this was fun to read after seeing many pieces of history relating to these 31 days there.
Steven Yenzer
Oct 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exhaustive, well-researched and engrossing account of an incredibly important period in American history.
Paul F
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Having lived through that era, but didn't know all that was going on at the time. A history lesson about our country that was very informative.
Judy Kugle
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this just before I watched the Ken Burns Vietnam series. Wow! It is so true. By not calling treason and lies out we get what we have today.
I recently spent a fair amount of time in the car traveling the northeastern seaboard and was subjugated to listening to this when my phone chose to be on the fritz with music. Decent and provided insight on politics that I tend to avoid talking about anyways.
Collins Roth
A blow by blow of the first 31 days of the Ford presidency, focused around the decision to pardon Nixon.

The book really highlights what an extraordinary time it was in the US. An unelected VP succeeding a disgraced president. One of the most open, and honest Presidents we have ever had replaced one of the least. No time for a true transition, so Ford inherited all Nixon's people and problems - the good, the bad and the ugly.

The core of the book is Ford's journey to the pardon, which was essent
Nov 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recounts the first month of the Ford administration. It brought back memories of that awkward but interesting period of U.S. history, in more detail than I would have gotten at 15. He shows Ford struggling with the transition, the economy, and the question of what to do about Nixon. His fundamental decency and self-assurance saw him through, but he was politically weakened by the pardon (and got no help from Nixon, who was self-concerned). Werth argues Ford's weakness allowed for conservatives t ...more
Aug 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Excellent! Here is a day-by-day account of 31 days, beginning with Gerald Ford becoming President on August 9, 1974 (the day Nixon resigned), and ending with Ford's announcement that he would pardon Nixon for Watergate crimes on September 8, 1974.
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A, good book.

I'm glad I bought this book. It gave me an understanding of the process of the pardon. And the actors around Pres. Ford.
Jul 10, 2009 marked it as hiatus
Shelves: apl, apl-sw
got 18 pages in and decided while it seems a decently written book, it's not important and/or interesting enough to devote the time and attention to right now. Maybe in a few years.
rated it really liked it
Dec 28, 2017
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“During his consultations at the Kremlin, [Soviet ambassador Anatoly] Dobrynin had faced shock and incomprehension about Nixon's removal. 'They thought, how can the most powerful person in the United States, the most important person in the world, be legally forced to step down for stealing some documents?' he recalled.” 1 likes
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