Libro 10/52 :: Write It When I’m Gone: Remarkable Off-the-Record Conversations with Gerald R. Ford by Thomas DeFrank

Write it when I'm gone

Gerald R. Ford’s legacy should consist of more than simply playing football at Michigan, nailing a spectator with a golf ball, and becoming the only unelected VP and/or President.


Write It When I’m Gone is an entertaining & insightful read from DeFrank’s 30+ years trailing Ford as VP and President. The majority of the content is derived from off-the-record conversations between Ford and DeFrank, hence the title/caveat from Ford – just write it when I’m gone.


Gerald R. Ford could be called a lot of things.


Having recently read Master of the Senate, Ford could be the Anti-LBJ. Ford was caring, considerate and candid. Ford asked junior reporters about their kids. LBJ was a bully. He was over-bearing, brutish, and belligerent. LBJ didn’t ask about his own kids.


Ford could be the Anti-Reagan. Ford worked and traveled relentlessly, yet never became an eloquent speaker on the stump. Reagan routinely put in 35 hours a week while POTUS, but had a gift connecting and leading through his oratory skills.


Would Reagan (would anyone?) open a State of the Union address like this?




I must say to you that the state of the Union is not good…. Millions of Americans are out of work. Recession and inflation are eroding the money of millions more. Prices are too high, and sales are too slow. This year’s federal deficit will be about $30 billion; next year’s probably $45 billion. The national debt will rise to over $500 billion. Our plant capacity and productivity are not increasing fast enough. We depend on others for essential energy. Some people question their government’s ability to make hard decisions and stick with them; they expect Washington politics as usual.


What a downer.

Tough to get re-elected with that… candor.


His silver tongue aside, Ford lost his re-election campaign to Carter in 1976 because of the Nixon pardon. Following Watergate, Americans were out for blood. Nixon was a crook, of sorts. As the President’s Men details spilled out, Ford took the helm and promptly cleared Nixon of any wrong-doing.


The nation gathered to see a public hanging and the new guy says, “There’s nothing to see here, folks. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here. Nixon will now disappear to a life of shame… and golf.


This didn’t sit well with America at the time.

Americans wanted a trial.

Americans wanted an apology.

Americans wanted something.


Ford knew what America needed was to heal.

Decades later, Ford’s wisdom regarding the Nixon pardon is evident.

Screen shot 2013-03-03 at 10.20.04 AM

The content on the development of Ford, Inc. was fascinating. Ford was the first former President to truly capitalize on his time in the White House for financial gain as a private citizen. Future ex-Presidents have followed his lead, most notably Bill Clinton.


In July of 2012, CNN reported Clinton had given 471 paid speeches since leaving Pennsylvania Ave. Revenue from those speeches? $89M.


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Thank you, Mr. Ford. 


Ford’s classic line, which underscores his self-deprecating manner, was this: “I’m a Ford, not a Lincoln.” He seemed like a great guy. I would have enjoyed seeing what another 4 years in office would have done for our country – and his legacy.


Bottom Line: Entertaining read with an unusual amount of candid thoughts from a former President.



Bradley Hartmann is El Presidente at Red Angle ( He’s reading 52 books this year – or at least he’s trying. So far… ahead of schedule. 


Screen shot 2013-03-03 at 10.19.46 AM



LIBRO 52 Challenge YTD

1. Kennedy/Nixon by Chris Matthews

2. Poke the Box by Seth Godin

3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 

NA. Buy-In by John Kotter and Lorne Whitehead

4. Education of an Accidental CEO by David Novak

5. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

6. Blood, Brains and Beer by David Ogilvy

7. Lyndon Johnson :: Master of the Senate by Robert Caro

8. 1776 by David McCullough

9. To Sell Is Human by Dan Pink

NA. Profiles In Courage by JFK*

10. Write It When I’m Gone by Tom DeFrank

Categories: Libro 52 Challenge

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28 replies


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  4. Libro 14/52 :: HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations by Nancy Duarte | redanglespanish
  5. Libro NA/52 :: James K. Polk by Walter Borneman | redanglespanish
  6. Libro 15/52 :: The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw | redanglespanish
  7. Libro 16/52 :: The Illustrious Dead by Stephan Talty | redanglespanish
  8. Libro 17/52 :: The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk | redanglespanish
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  10. Libro 19 + 20/52 :: Thunderstruck by Erik Larson + In Cold Blood by Truman Capote « the red angle
  11. Libro 21/52 :: Ctrl Alt Delete by Mitch Joel « the red angle
  12. Libro 22 + 23/52 :: Down & Dirty Pictures by Peter Biskind + Makers by Chris Anderson « the red angle
  13. Libro 24/52: Tales From Q School by John Feinstein « the red angle
  14. Libro 25/52: The Business of Belief by Tom Asacker « the red angle
  15. Libro 26/52: 18 Minutes by Peter Bregman « the red angle
  16. Libro 27/52: Drive by Dan Pink « the red angle
  17. Libro 28/52 :: Enough by John Bogle « the red angle
  18. Libro 29/52 :: Contagious by Jonah Berger « the red angle
  19. Libro 30/52 :: Lexicon by Max Barry « the red angle
  20. Libro 31 + 32/52 :: Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman + A Very Short Tour of the Mind by Michael Corballis « the red angle
  21. Libro 33/52 :: The No Asshole Rule by Robert Sutton « the red angle
  22. Libro 34 + 35/52 :: Choose Yourself by James Altucher + The Halo Effect by Phil Rosenzwieg. « the red angle
  23. Libro 36/52 :: Inside The Box by Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg. « the red angle
  24. Libro 37 + 38/52 :: The Power of Less by Leo Babauta + Wild by Cheryl Strayed « the red angle
  25. Libro 39/52 :: Big Data by Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier. « the red angle
  26. Libro 42/52 :: Black Irish by Stephan Talty « the red angle
  27. Libro 43/52 :: The Firm by Duff McDonald « the red angle
  28. Libros 44-50 :: The final chapter of the Libro 52* Challenge. « the red angle

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