Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Book learning 14.

31 Days by Barry Werth.

Right, this is a bit of a tricky one. How to describe this book and all that it is without giving away the essential plot theme. I would hate to ruin the entire book for you so I will just say this. It could best be summed up as a sort of "How do you solve a problem like Dick Nixon?" (to the tune of "How do you solve a problem like Maria?" from "The Sound of Music").
There, The first 31 days of the Ford administration. Sound geeky? Damn right it is, that's exactly why Mondale purchased, read and enjoyed the thing! Geeky aside it's nicely written and the fact that each chapter is a day lends it a certain ease of passage.
Amongst the other cool things the author manages to accomplish are a nice dose of contemporia and a slightly sinister portrayal of a few of the men behind the scenes of mid 1970's Republican politics, A certain Mr G.H.W.Bush, a Mr D.Rumsfeld and a Mr R.Cheney.
It's fascinating to see these guys cutting their teeth over 30 years ago in the West Wing or in George Bush's case weasling to try and get the job of Vice President and having to settle for a role in China.
It was also fun reading about Alexander Haig, was he really just an overpromoted flunkey attempting to hang onto his own influence by his fingernails or was he the outright Nixon/Watergate apologist we all thought he was? Read this book and decide for yourself!
I also enjoyed the contemporary touches, President Ford's taste in wide lapelled plaid sportcoats deemed innapropriate for a chief executive (at least during the week), His wife's personal habits- you end up feeling a real sympathy and admiration for Betty Ford- and her stubborn yet resentful support of her husband and his dilemmas.
A good choice for a political junkie, and don't forget the unmentioned plot, the one I cannot mention. It's a cracker.


weasel said...

While looking for fireworks on TV on the Fourth (Maine was fog-bound, so the public shows were busts) I saw that CSPAN 2 had a night long "Celebration of Gerald Ford". I almost called you, but thought Frau RD would not have appreciated me clueing you in.

Mondale said...

Umm, Yeah, I watched that. I t was actually a classic CSpan Nightlong chat about Gerald Ford which turned out to be mind numbingly dull. There you go.