100 books like Gerald R. Ford

By Douglas G. Brinkley,

Here are 100 books that Gerald R. Ford fans have personally recommended if you like Gerald R. Ford. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Time and Chance: Gerald Ford's Appointment with History

Scott Kaufman Author Of Ambition, Pragmatism, and Party: A Political Biography of Gerald R. Ford

From my list on the life and presidency of Gerald R. Ford.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was 16 years old, my father, Burton Kaufman, who is also a historian, took me to the Jimmy Carter Library in Georgia to help him research a book on America's thirty-ninth president. Having had a love of history since the sixth grade, that trip deepened my desire to major in History in college and teach it as a profession. It also made me interested in learning more about the presidency, starting with Carter. Several years ago, I edited a series of essays on both the Ford and Carter presidencies, and realized there was need for an in-depth political biography of our thirty-eighth chief executive. The result was my book on Ford.

Scott's book list on the life and presidency of Gerald R. Ford

Scott Kaufman Why did Scott love this book?

I recommend this book with some caution, as Cannon worked for Ford, and sometimes authors who are too close to their subject will oversee their faults. But what makes Cannon’s work a must-read—and why I found it so helpful to my own research on Ford—is that he was one of the first to devote extensive attention to Ford’s pre-presidential years. Furthermore, he relied not only on archival materials but on dozens of interviews he conducted with people who knew and worked for Ford, as well as interviews with the former president himself. 

By James Cannon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Time and Chance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Gerald Ford came to the presidency at the time of one of our nation's greatest constitutional crises, the downfall of President Richard M. Nixon in the aftermath of the Watergate affair. His service as president concluded a distinguished career in the House of Representatives during which he served as leader of the Republican Party in the House. With unrestricted access to Gerald Ford's papers, James M. Cannon tells the story of Ford's rise and Nixon's ruin, providing new insights into this troubling period of our history and Ford's role in guiding the nation through it. Cannon tells the story of…


Book cover of Write It When I'm Gone: Remarkable Off-The-Record Conversations with Gerald R. Ford

Scott Kaufman Author Of Ambition, Pragmatism, and Party: A Political Biography of Gerald R. Ford

From my list on the life and presidency of Gerald R. Ford.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was 16 years old, my father, Burton Kaufman, who is also a historian, took me to the Jimmy Carter Library in Georgia to help him research a book on America's thirty-ninth president. Having had a love of history since the sixth grade, that trip deepened my desire to major in History in college and teach it as a profession. It also made me interested in learning more about the presidency, starting with Carter. Several years ago, I edited a series of essays on both the Ford and Carter presidencies, and realized there was need for an in-depth political biography of our thirty-eighth chief executive. The result was my book on Ford.

Scott's book list on the life and presidency of Gerald R. Ford

Scott Kaufman Why did Scott love this book?

DeFrank was a correspondent for Newsweek magazine who spoke extensively with Ford, with the understanding that he was not to publish those conversations until after Ford’s passing. Ford openly describes his difficulties with President Richard Nixon and his dislike for Ronald Reagan, whom Ford believed should have done more to help him win the 1976 presidential election. Maybe most fascinating was his criticism of Dick Cheney, who had served as Ford’s chief of staff and who, as President George W. Bush’s vice president, pushed for the invasion of Iraq in 2003—something that Ford felt was a mistake. 

By Thomas M. DeFrank,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Write It When I'm Gone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestseller?and the candid voice of an American president

In 1974, Newsweek correspondent Thomas M. DeFrank was interviewing Gerald Ford when the Vice President blurted out something astonishingly indiscreet. He then extracted a promise not to publish it. ?Write it when I?m dead,? Ford said? and thus began a thirty-two-year relationship.

During the last fifteen years of their conversations, Ford opened up to DeFrank, speaking in a way few presidents ever have. Here the award-winning journalist reveals these private talks, as Ford discusses his experiences with his fellow presidents, the Warren Commission, and his exchanges with Bill…


Book cover of A Time to Heal: The Autobiography of Gerald R. Ford

Scott Kaufman Author Of Ambition, Pragmatism, and Party: A Political Biography of Gerald R. Ford

From my list on the life and presidency of Gerald R. Ford.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was 16 years old, my father, Burton Kaufman, who is also a historian, took me to the Jimmy Carter Library in Georgia to help him research a book on America's thirty-ninth president. Having had a love of history since the sixth grade, that trip deepened my desire to major in History in college and teach it as a profession. It also made me interested in learning more about the presidency, starting with Carter. Several years ago, I edited a series of essays on both the Ford and Carter presidencies, and realized there was need for an in-depth political biography of our thirty-eighth chief executive. The result was my book on Ford.

Scott's book list on the life and presidency of Gerald R. Ford

Scott Kaufman Why did Scott love this book?

While any reader should be cautious with memoirs, what they tell you—or, conversely, omit—can offer great insight into what the writer believed and did. Researched and co-authored by Trevor Ambrister, A Time to Heal is at some points disjointed. However, its value is in Ford’s telling of his upbringing, his relationship with his wife, Betty, his ambitiousness to rise up the political ranks, the challenges he faced as president, and his failure to win the presidency in 1976. 

By Gerald R. Ford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Time to Heal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Brand new copy still shrink wrapped - sealed from Easton Press. Signed copy.


Book cover of The Times of My Life

Scott Kaufman Author Of Ambition, Pragmatism, and Party: A Political Biography of Gerald R. Ford

From my list on the life and presidency of Gerald R. Ford.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was 16 years old, my father, Burton Kaufman, who is also a historian, took me to the Jimmy Carter Library in Georgia to help him research a book on America's thirty-ninth president. Having had a love of history since the sixth grade, that trip deepened my desire to major in History in college and teach it as a profession. It also made me interested in learning more about the presidency, starting with Carter. Several years ago, I edited a series of essays on both the Ford and Carter presidencies, and realized there was need for an in-depth political biography of our thirty-eighth chief executive. The result was my book on Ford.

Scott's book list on the life and presidency of Gerald R. Ford

Scott Kaufman Why did Scott love this book?

While Gerald Ford’s memoir is useful, I liked Betty’s even more because of her candor. She tells the story of the wife of a congressman, vice president, and president who struggled with loneliness as her husband focused on climbing up the political ranks. His absenteeism contributed to her struggles with alcoholism and drug addiction. Suddenly thrust into the role of First Lady, Betty publicized her fight against breast cancera disease that up to that point had received little public attentionand sought to walk the fine line between acting as White House hostess and drawing attention to issues of women’s rights. 

By Betty Ford, Chris Chase,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Times of My Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This former First Lady candidly describes her life, her unhappy first marriage, her courtship and marriage with Gerald Ford, their independent children, and her battle with cancer


Book cover of Being Nixon: A Man Divided

Talmage Boston Author Of Cross-Examining History: A Lawyer Gets Answers from the Experts about Our Presidents

From my list on presidential biographies.

Why am I passionate about this?

Over the last eight years, I’ve conducted as many onstage interviews with leading presidential historians as anyone else in the country. To prepare for them, I read presidential biographies thoroughly and constantly. The fact that my work has been strongly endorsed by people in presidential history circles with the stature of Ken Burns, David McCullough, James Baker, Jon Meacham, and Douglas Brinkley should be a strong indication that my opinion about this subject matters.

Talmage's book list on presidential biographies

Talmage Boston Why did Talmage love this book?

Although Nixon has been our most disgraced president, pre-Trump, he (like LBJ) is a marvelously complicated study of a person with major strengths and weaknesses, and a refusal to be defeated by any obstacles or setbacks. Thomas is discerning in his understanding of what made his subject tick—which is quite an achievement.

By Evan Thomas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Being Nixon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The landmark New York Times bestselling biography of Richard M. Nixon, a political savant whose gaping character flaws would drive him from the presidency and forever taint his legacy. 

“A biography of eloquence and breadth . . . No single volume about Nixon’s long and interesting life could be so comprehensive.”—Chicago Tribune

One of Time’s Top 10 Nonfiction Books of the Year

In this revelatory biography, Evan Thomas delivers a radical, unique portrait of America’s thirty-seventh president, Richard Nixon, a contradictory figure who was both determinedly optimistic and tragically flawed. One of the principal architects of the modern Republican Party…


Book cover of Richard Nixon: The Life

Michael Dobbs Author Of King Richard: Nixon and Watergate--An American Tragedy

From my list on Watergate.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a reporter for The Washington Post, I was responsible for recording what has been called "the first rough draft of history." But I was always aware that there was more to the story--whether it was the collapse of communism or a big political controversy in the United States--than I or other reporters were able to uncover at the time. It can sometimes take decades for the real story to emerge as historians gain access to secret documents, diaries, and other unpublished materials. The secret Nixon tapes provide a unique insight into events that were off-limits to reporters and other outsiders. Writing King Richard, I felt like a fly on the wall of the Oval Office with the reader by my side, as we eavesdrop on conversations we were never meant to hear. For anyone who is curious about how politics really operates, it is a thrilling, sometimes shocking experience that can leave you laughing at the craziness of it all when you are not shaking your head in disbelief.

Michael's book list on Watergate

Michael Dobbs Why did Michael love this book?

In order to understand Watergate, you first have to understand Richard Nixon. This is the best, single-volume biography that chronicles Nixon's life in a balanced and fair way that gives us great insight into his character and motivations. Published in 2017, it is a model of its kind. Farrell attempts neither to vilify Nixon nor to defend him, but to explain him, in the context of his times. He gives us the extraordinary story of the self-made man from a struggling Quaker family in California who rose to the top through his own efforts - and then threw it all away through his own fatal flaws. Many of Nixon's gambles succeeded. Watergate was the one that failed.

By John A. Farrell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Richard Nixon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and a Sunday Independent Book of the Year

A deeply researched, superbly crafted biography of America's most complex president.

Award-winning biographer John A. Farrell examines the life and legacy of one of America's most controversial political figures, from Nixon's early days in the Navy to his political career as senator, vice president, and finally president, and his downfall in 1974 following the Watergate scandal.

Richard Nixon is a magisterial portrait of the man who embodied post-war American political cynicism - and was destroyed by it.


Book cover of The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose from Defeat to Create the New Majority

Geoff Shepard Author Of The Nixon Conspiracy: Watergate and the Plot to Remove the President

From my list on recent books about Richard Nixon.

Why am I passionate about this?

I joined the Nixon administration as a White House Fellow upon Harvard Law School graduation in 1969, so I wasn’t part of Nixon’s 1968 campaign. I served for five years, rising to associate director of the Domestic Council and ending as deputy counsel on Nixon’s Watergate defense team. Given my personal involvement at the time, coupled with extensive research over the past fifteen years, I’m among the foremost authorities on the Watergate scandal, but essentially unknowledgeable about people and events preceding the Nixon presidency. My five recommended books have nicely fill that gap – principally by friends and former colleagues who were actually “in the arena” during those heady times. 

Geoff's book list on recent books about Richard Nixon

Geoff Shepard Why did Geoff love this book?

Pat Buchanan joined Nixon’s staff in 1966 and was the conservative guru on his White House staff throughout Nixon’s terms in office. Totally written off for dead after his 1962 loss to Edmund “Pat” Brown as California’s governor, Nixon remerged to be sworn in as our 37th President in January 1969 – and Pat was with him every step of the way. This book is Buchanan’s insider account of how that recovery was planned, executed, and ultimately achieved. Its stories reflect lessons and insights for everyone interested in national campaigns. I served alongside Pat in the Nixon White House, but this volume fills in intimate details of Nixon’s wilderness years – before he took the oath of office.

By Patrick J. Buchanan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Greatest Comeback as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Patrick J. Buchanan, bestselling author and senior advisor to Richard Nixon, tells the definitive story of Nixon's resurrection from the political graveyard and his rise to the presidency.

After suffering stinging defeats in the 1960 presidential election against John F. Kennedy, and in the 1962 California gubernatorial election, Nixon's career was declared dead by Washington press and politicians alike. Yet on January 20, 1969, just six years after he had said his political life was over, Nixon would stand taking the oath of office as 37th President of the United States. How did Richard Nixon resurrect a ruined career and…


Book cover of Campaign of the Century: Kennedy, Nixon, and the Election of 1960

Geoff Shepard Author Of The Nixon Conspiracy: Watergate and the Plot to Remove the President

From my list on recent books about Richard Nixon.

Why am I passionate about this?

I joined the Nixon administration as a White House Fellow upon Harvard Law School graduation in 1969, so I wasn’t part of Nixon’s 1968 campaign. I served for five years, rising to associate director of the Domestic Council and ending as deputy counsel on Nixon’s Watergate defense team. Given my personal involvement at the time, coupled with extensive research over the past fifteen years, I’m among the foremost authorities on the Watergate scandal, but essentially unknowledgeable about people and events preceding the Nixon presidency. My five recommended books have nicely fill that gap – principally by friends and former colleagues who were actually “in the arena” during those heady times. 

Geoff's book list on recent books about Richard Nixon

Geoff Shepard Why did Geoff love this book?

Gellman is a nationally-recognized historian, whose writings reflect thorough and insightful research. His earlier books – on Nixon’s time in Congress (The Contender) and as Eisenhower’s vice president (The President and the Apprentice) – meticulously debunked derogatory stories about Nixon, and this one on the 1960 campaign does the same. Many believe Theodore White’s Making of the President,1960 is the only authoritative account of that contest, but Gellman points out how White set out to idolize Kennedy and villainize Nixon – never once actually speaking to Nixon, either during or following the campaign. Gellman is an excellent writer, putting his readers right in the center of historic events. His final chapter, bringing the campaign all together is simply outstanding.

By Irwin F. Gellman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Campaign of the Century as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Based on massive new research, a compelling and surprising account of the twentieth century's closest election

"[Gellman] offers as detailed an exploration of the 1960 presidential race as can be found."-Robert W. Merry, Wall Street Journal

"A brilliant work . . . the research is absolutely phenomenal . . . This book should receive every accolade the publishing industry can give it, including the Pulitzer Prize."-John Rothmann, KGO's "The John Rothmann Show"

The 1960 presidential election between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon is one of the most frequently described political events of the twentieth century, yet the accounts to…


Book cover of The Nixon Tapes: 1973

Geoff Shepard Author Of The Nixon Conspiracy: Watergate and the Plot to Remove the President

From my list on recent books about Richard Nixon.

Why am I passionate about this?

I joined the Nixon administration as a White House Fellow upon Harvard Law School graduation in 1969, so I wasn’t part of Nixon’s 1968 campaign. I served for five years, rising to associate director of the Domestic Council and ending as deputy counsel on Nixon’s Watergate defense team. Given my personal involvement at the time, coupled with extensive research over the past fifteen years, I’m among the foremost authorities on the Watergate scandal, but essentially unknowledgeable about people and events preceding the Nixon presidency. My five recommended books have nicely fill that gap – principally by friends and former colleagues who were actually “in the arena” during those heady times. 

Geoff's book list on recent books about Richard Nixon

Geoff Shepard Why did Geoff love this book?

Because of the secret taping system that recorded Nixon’s conversations from February 1971 to the system’s exposure in July 1973, President Nixon’s time in office is better documented than that of any other president, before or since. But the system itself was hardly ideal for researchers. Separate recorders were placed in the Oval Office, as well as in the Cabinet Room, the President’s EOB hide-away office, and even in Aspen Lodge at Camp David. The result is some 3,700 hours of recordings, almost haphazardly located on dozens of four-inch tape reels. Professor Luke Nichter is the nation’s foremost authority on these tapes, hosting his own website. This book, along with the earlier volume on 1972 tapes, does a masterful job of sorting out and analyzing these presidential conversations. The result is an incredibly helpful account of presidential decision-making, with first-hand detail unmatched by any other presidency. 

By Douglas Brinkley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Nixon Tapes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A revealing selection . . . [a] heroic service.” — New York Times Book Review

“Endlessly fascinating . . . Essential for students of late-twentieth-century history and the American presidency.” — Kirkus Reviews

“[A] monumental effort . . . Astonishing.” — Austin American-Statesman

Between 1971 and 1973, President Richard Nixon’s voice-activated tape recorders captured 3,700 hours of conversations. Douglas Brinkley and Luke Nichter’s intrepid two-volume transcription and annotation of the highlights of this essential archive provides an unprecedented and fascinating window into the inner workings of a momentous presidency.
                The Nixon Tapes: 1973 tells the concluding chapter of the story,…


Book cover of The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge

Craig Fehrman Author Of Author in Chief: The Untold Story of Our Presidents and the Books They Wrote

From my list on written by American presidents.

Why am I passionate about this?

Craig Fehrman spent ten years writing Author in Chief, his book on presidents and the books they wrote. When readers would learn about his research, they'd always ask -- "Are any of them worth reading?" The answer turned out to be a definitive yes! Presidential books have won elections, redefined careers, and shaped America's place in the world. It's easy to eye-roll at modern political volumes, but for most of American history, books have been our popular culture -- and presidential books have changed our nation. Here are a few of the books that will reward readers today. 

Craig's book list on written by American presidents

Craig Fehrman Why did Craig love this book?

This book is the forgotten classic of presidential writing—a blockbuster in its own time and a model for how modern political memoirs could be better. Coolidge was a stunningly good writer. (The New York Times called him “the most literary man who has occupied the White House since 1865.”) In his autobiography, he included many memorable stories, including one about his son, Calvin Jr., and his summer job picking tobacco. “If my father was president,” one of the laborers told him, “I would not work in a tobacco field.” “If my father were your father,” Calvin Jr. replied, “you would.” Yet the most memorable passage comes later, when the president describes Calvin Jr.’s shocking death. “In his suffering,” the most powerful man in the world wrote, “he was asking me to make him well. I could not.”

By Calvin Coolidge,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Amity Shlaes reclaimed a misunderstood president with her bestselling biography Coolidge. Now she presents an expanded and annotated edition of that president's masterful memoir.

The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge is as unjustly neglected as Calvin Coolidge himself. The man caricatured as 'Silent Cal' was a gifted writer. The New York Times called him 'the most literary man who has occupied the White House since 1865.' One biographer wrote that Coolidge's autobiography 'displays a literary grace that is lacking in most such books by former presidents.'

The Coolidge who emerges in these pages is a model of character, principle, and humility…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in politics, Watergate, and Richard Nixon?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about politics, Watergate, and Richard Nixon.

Politics Explore 710 books about politics
Watergate Explore 16 books about Watergate
Richard Nixon Explore 35 books about Richard Nixon