Lisa McCubbin’s insightful portrait is admiring without being fawning, candid without a whiff of tabloid salaciousness ... A journalist and co-author of several bestselling memoirs from Secret Service agents, McCubbin has deftly unearthed stories from those close to Betty Ford: her children, friends and former employees. The result is a vivid picture of a singularly influential woman.
Ms. McCubbin...presents her subject according to a familiar pattern, as a plucky woman overcoming adversity. She variously attributes Betty Ford’s addictions to a 'feminine mystique' situation of being trapped in overwhelming domesticity, a pinched nerve, stress, a bad back, over-scheduling, depression, arthritis, stage fright, and a doctor willing to prescribe whatever was requested ... The author credits the eventual recovery to the support of a loving family, rosily pictured in this book. Yet almost incidentally, she quotes one of the Fords’ sons, Jack, saying that he was embarrassed to bring friends home ... This biography is cast as what we recognize as an 'inspirational survivor story'—personally faultless people courageously triumphing over disease in the family. It has an unusually happy conclusion in the worthy achievement of establishing the Betty Ford Center in California to treat other addicts. But it would have been more interesting—and relevant to the world of today—to have explored more deeply how Betty Ford’s experiences shaped the national discourse.
Though the shadow of those addictions hovers over this book, what we read here is mostly a much lighter tale of a happy family thrust unexpectedly into the glare of the presidency. Only once do we get a sense of how scary Ford’s episodes could be ... On the whole, we don’t see a person losing it in these pages. Here we meet a brave, beautiful and bright woman ... McCubbin irritatingly tells us what Mrs. Ford was wearing on many occasions ... As first lady, she learned that her voice mattered ... She changed the conversation around alcohol, affecting countless lives.
Her openness about her breast cancer diagnosis led to heightened awareness of the disease and more mammograms ... Her lasting legacy, founding the Betty Ford Center, helped millions of people recover from addiction ... McCubbin's engaging style brings Betty Ford vividly to life, presenting a must-read for fans of presidential biography and history.
The writing is full of cliches...and the book is drawn in large part from the two memoirs Ford wrote ... Those flaws aside, McCubbin has interviewed the Ford children and others who were there, and she offers a poignant account of the family intervention that prompted Betty Ford to finally address her addiction ... Her timing is fortuitous: Even familiar material is now seen through the prism of a day that is re-examining the contributions of women in general and the value of political wives in particular.
This timely biography of Betty Ford will introduce her to millennials and remind others of her importance in championing equal rights for women and speaking out on breast cancer, abortion, depression, and addiction at a time when women, especially a first lady, did not discuss these issues in public ... This fast-moving book reveals a lively, independent, and indomitable woman who influenced both the women’s movement and America’s perception of addiction.
In this meticulously researched and delightful biography, McCubbin...skillfully chronicles the life of former first lady Betty Ford, both in and out of the White House ... McCubbin writes with great tact and sensitivity in this insightful and beautifully told look into the life of one of the most public and admired first ladies.
Drawing largely on Ford’s two memoirs and interviews with her children and others close to her, the author fashions an admiring portrait of a woman who faced physical and emotional challenges ... Besides pain, she suffered from depression, which McCubbin does not deeply probe ... A warmly sympathetic biography of a spirited woman.