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Write It When I’m Gone (2008 paperback)

Thomas DeFrank, Washington Bureau Chief of the New York Daily News, for more than a quarter of a century was chief Washington correspondent for Newsweek. In 1973, he was assigned to cover Vice President Gerald R. Ford shortly after RIchard M. Nixon appointed Ford to become Vice President after the forced resignation of Spiro T. Agnew.

It was to be the beginning of a long relationship between Ford and DeFrank, the last reporter to interview Ford (in May 2006) and the last to visit him (in November 2006), just six weeks before his death. DeFrank didn’t know it at the time, but his long association with Ford began with a political indiscretion muttered by Ford in 1974 (namely that he knew he would become President because he had concluded Nixon would not survive the Watergate coverup scandal) that Ford got DeFrank not to agree to print.

DeFrank covered the White House during Ford’s short presidency, and after Ford left office, about 15 years later, the two began a series of interviews in which Ford reflected on then current events, with the promise that his feelings and thoughts would not be revealed to the American public until after his death. The result is this masterful work by DeFrank.

It is too bad some of his insights weren’t revealed earlier (for example his belief that the Bush-Cheney administration misled American about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, or his belief that, as he had done with Nelson Rockefeller, Bush should have dismissed Cheney from the 2004 reelection¬† ticket).¬† But true to form, Ford’s beliefs remained obscure until Write It When I’m Gone was published.

This is excellent source material for those interested in natonal politics, and a great read for political junkies in an election year.

DeFrank, Thomas M. Write It When I’m Gone (New York: Berkeley Books, 2008).

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