Events at the Gerald R. Ford Library and Museum, 2015

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Betty Caroli

Lady Bird and Lyndon: The Hidden Story of a Marriage That Made a President
November 12

ANN ARBOR--On November 12th, the Library welcomed Dr. Betty Boyd Caroli, accomplished author, professor, and expert on the role of the First Lady in American history. Dr. Caroli delighted the audience with tales from her latest book, Lady Bird and Lyndon – The Hidden Story of a Marriage That Made a President, which gives a behind the scenes analysis of how this marriage influenced the 36th President of the United States.   Lady Bird Johnson is often remembered as a passive wife who President Johnson married for financial reasons and exploited for political advantage.  In her talk, Dr. Caroli shed new light on this successful marriage, revealing the relationship to be a functional political partnership in which Lady Bird was a key strategist, a crucial therapist, and a woman of agency.  Dr. Caroli is the author of First Ladies: Martha Washington to Michelle Obama, Inside the White House, and The Roosevelt Women.

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Martin and Frost

The Partisan Divide: Congress in Crisis
October 27

ANN ARBOR--Former Congressmen Tom Davis, Republican from Virginia, and Martin Frost, Democrat from Texas, spoke to a full and energized house at the Library about their new book, The Partisan Divide: Congress in Crisis.  Davis and Frost, both moderates, served a combined 40 years in the House of Representatives, held leadership positions, and became disenchanted with the partisan nature of Congress. In their talk, Davis and Frost discussed the reasons behind today's legislative gridlock and political polarization and offered common sense suggestions for breaking this gridlock.

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Evan Thomas

Being Nixon: A Divided Man
October 22

GRAND RAPIDS-- The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation and Museum joined with the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley University to bring in bestselling author, Evan Thomas on October 22.  Thomas discussed his newly acclaimed book Being Nixon: A Divided Man. Touching on Nixon's Quaker roots and his constant struggles to retain power from real and perceived threats, Thomas gave insight into the man who lead the United States into talks with both China and the Soviet Union, but could not handle his own personal demons.

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Bart Sparrow

The Strategist: Brent Scowcroft and the Call of National Security
October 8

ANN ARBOR: Professor Bartholomew Sparrow spoke to an attentive audience at the Library on his new biography of Brent Scowcroft, a much admired and respected national security adviser and strategist, entitled The Strategist: Brent Scowcroft and the Call of National Security.  In his talk, Professor Sparrow shared insights about Scowcroft's family background, educational achievements, military service, and personal traits that allowed him to rise to the highest levels of government and succeed as a trusted aide and confidant to several Presidents and national security adviser under Presidents Gerald R. Ford and George H.W. Bush.  Bartholomew Sparrow is Professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin.  He received a Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation Research Travel Grant in 2008, which he used to conduct research at the Library for his Scowcroft biography. 

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Red Cavany and Al From

Al From
What’s Missing in Presidential Politics?

May 20, 2015 – Library
May 21, 2015 – Museum

Al From is founder of the Democratic Leadership Council and considered by many to be one of the country’s leading political strategists.  He spoke at both the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum this spring on political strategy in general and his book, The New Democrats and the Return to Power.  Red Cavaney, chairman of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, joined Mr. From in a fascinating discussion of presidential campaign philosophy, political polarization, the often unheard middle, and moving forward with political courage.

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Ken Walsh

Ken Walsh
Celebrity in Chief: A History of the Presidents and the Culture of Stardom

May 6, 2015 – Grand Rapids
May 7, 2015 – Ann Arbor

A familiar face was seen at both the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum in May.  Ken Walsh, White House Correspondent for U.S. News and World Report, Gerald R. Ford Journalism Prize winner, and author of numerous books on the presidency and life in the White House, made a return visit to Michigan.  He spoke in both Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor about his most recent book, Celebrity in Chief:  A History of the Presidents and the Culture of Stardom.  Following each program, Mr. Walsh signed his book and visited with guests.

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John Meier

Creating a Culture of Excellence
April 30, 2015

GRAND RAPIDS -Captain John Meier discussed many of the technical advances of the new Ford aircraft carrier and the new efficient interior design. He explained how the new ship will be able to launch aircraft more quickly while costing less to maintain, saving the Navy a projected $4 billion over the ship's 50-year life span.

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David Holmes

Religion and Watergate
March 17

ANN ARBOR-Religious historian David Holmes spoke to a rapt audience on “Religion and Watergate: The Religious Faith and Practice of Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford.” Professor Holmes recounted the events of Watergate that led to the resignation of Nixon and the rise of Ford to the presidency, and discussed Nixon’s childhood immersion in the Quaker religion and Ford’s strong and lifelong participation in the Episcopal church. David Holmes, the winner of numerous teaching awards, is Mason Professor of Religion Emeritus at the College of William & Mary. He is the author of The Faiths of the Postwar Presidents: From Truman to Obama (2012), and The Faiths of the Founding Fathers (2006).

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Glenn Thrush

The Hermit Presidency - Glenn Thrush
February 4

ANN ARBOR- Glenn Thrush, Senior Staff Writer for POLITICO Magazine, provided a behind-the-scenes view and personal perspective on the evolving nature of the presidency and the White House, and the increasing barriers, both physical and technological, distancing the president from the press and the American people.  He stated that the president increasingly becomes a prisoner of the White House as the senior staff “screen out the noise” and he receives less and less input and fewer diverse points of view. Glenn Thrush is the 2014 winner of the Ford Journalism prize for Distinguished Reporting on the Presidency.

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Howard Willens

History Will Prove Us Right: Inside the Warren Commission Report on the Assassination of John F. Kennedy - Howard Willens
February 5

GRAND RAPIDS- Of the many books written about the Kennedy assassination, Willens'  book is the only one written about the Commission by someone who was part of the three-person management team that supervised the largest criminal investigation ever conducted in the United States.  His book is based on extensive personal journal entries made during the course of their investigation, and provides a unique perspective that illustrates the Commission's processes and deliberations. 

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King: A Reflection on the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
February 13

GRAND RAPIDS- King: A Reflection on the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a combination of spirituals and writings commemorating the life of Dr. King, warmed up the auditorium on a cold February night in Grand Rapids. The piano, played by Stanley Waldon was a stunning accompaniment to the verbose voices of tenor Wally Tett, bass-baritone Daniel Washington and tenor George Shirley. Narration by playwright Sandra Seaton was interspersed with Shirley's performance. The program brought the audience through a musical journey of King's life. This program was underwritten by Hank and Liesel Meijer.

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