Taking Aim at the President: The Remarkable Story of the Woman Who Shot at Gerald Ford

Overview

"I'm not sorry I tried...if successful, the assassination...just might have triggered the kind of chaos that could have started the upheaval of change." —Sara Jane Moore in 1976

Journalist Geri Spieler met would-be assassin Sara Jane Moore while she was in prison; Taking Aim at the President is based on over two decades of interviews as well as independant research. Spieler follows Moore's actions from her childhood in a small West Virginia town to her release from prison in December 2007. Moore's life was never ...

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Taking Aim at the President: The Remarkable Story of the Woman Who Shot at Gerald Ford

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Overview

"I'm not sorry I tried...if successful, the assassination...just might have triggered the kind of chaos that could have started the upheaval of change." —Sara Jane Moore in 1976

Journalist Geri Spieler met would-be assassin Sara Jane Moore while she was in prison; Taking Aim at the President is based on over two decades of interviews as well as independant research. Spieler follows Moore's actions from her childhood in a small West Virginia town to her release from prison in December 2007. Moore's life was never conventional, and along the way she entered and dropped out of the military, was married five times, and was both a political radical and an FBI informant. Focusing on the complex psychology and motivations of a quintessentially desperate housewife and the only woman to ever fire a bullet at an American president, Spieler delivers a nuanced portrait of an elusive person and a fascinating glimpse back at a turbulent period in American history.

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  • Taking Aim at the President
    Taking Aim at the President  

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Winner of the 2009 San Francisco Book Festival Award (Wild Card category)

"Spieler offers a portrait of an erratic, unstable woman with a protean capacity to shift identities, with the 1960s and '70s as a dramatic backdrop. Fans of true crime accounts or contemporary history will savor this portrait of the first woman to make an assassination attempt on an American president." - Publishers Weekly

"It is the obligation of the thoughtful journalist to tell us something meaningful that we don't already know. In Taking Aim at the President, Geri Spieler is more than up to the task.The byzantine tale ofSara Jane Moore's double, triple and quadruple lives, with so many bizarre groups - including the federal government - exploiting her vulnerabilities, is the stuff of Hollywood fiction. The fact that it's all true, and told with precision by Spieler, raises Sara Jane's story to something significantly more than a footnote to history." - Alan Weisman, author of Prince of Darkness: Richard Perle, The Kingdom, the Power & the End of Empire in America and Lone Star: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Dan Rather "A well-written, fascinating story about an inexplicable moment in American History." - Carl Stern, Professor of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University, and former NBC News correspondent

"Geri Spieler has done a marvelous job of unraveling the details surrounding one of the most bizarre events in American history, Sara Jane Moore's attack on Gerald Ford." - James Dalessandro, author of 1906 and Citizen Jane

"Talk about truth being stranger than fiction! Captivating." - The San Francisco Chronicle

Publishers Weekly

On September 22, 1975, Sara Jane Moore attempted to kill President Gerald Ford. Investigative journalist Spieler traces the "unlikely assassin's" convoluted path as the suburban housewife who abandoned her children meandered through relationships, marriages and careers ranging from bookkeeping to political activist turned FBI informant. Moore assumed varied personas, a skill she first displayed as an actress in high school. Despite three decades of contact with Moore, Spieler admits she still cannot explain what led Moore to attempt to kill Ford. But Spieler offers a portrait of an erratic, unstable woman with a protean capacity to shift identities, with the 1960s and '70s as a dramatic backdrop. Fans of true crime accounts or contemporary history will savor this portrait of the first woman to make an assassination attempt on an American president. (Jan. 12)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230610231
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 12/23/2008
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Geri Spieler is an investigative journalist and award-winning speaker. She has written for the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Forbes. She has a strong professional relationship with her subject, Sara Jane Moore, who she has visited and interviewed in prison for the last thirty years.

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Table of Contents

Prologue

The Girl Who Disappeared

The Unhappy Housewife

The Doctor's Wife

Changing Times

San Francisco's Radical Underground

The Would-be Activist

The Accountant

Federal Stranglehold

Fired

The Spy

The Mission

Doubling

Hunted

Testing Security

The Unlikely Assassin

'I Acted Alone'

Guilty

Making a Statement

The Prisoner

Settling In and Becoming

Solitary

Afterword

Appendix

Notes

Bibliography

Index

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 12, 2011

    History Lite - this book is out of aim

    Geri Spieler has taken her unique relationship with Sara Jane Moore and cashed-in with the only book out now about this complex and troubled woman. Spieler creates an illusion we are getting the full story about the bizarre life of Sara Jane Moore. She manipulates what we are allowed to know. After having to research deeper into this book I found important errors, omissions and odd cites. A contrived tale about an amnesia episode then WAC PFC Sara Jane Kahn had in Washington, DC in May 1950. According to Spieler, Sara was touring the White House alone and without identification on a lovely cherry blossom time afternoon and then collapsed on the White House lawn complete with Secret Service Agents rushing to her and taking her to Walter Reed Hospital for exam. Nurses finding hidden photos of Sara in her dress which were then run in papers all over trying to identify the mystery woman with amnesia. Her mother in West Virginia and her estranged husband in Pennsylvania supposedly seeing the photos and rushing to her bedside to ID her. "Suspicious" FBI wondering about her. Suspicious indeed! Especially since you couldn't go near the White House, or its lawn, in May 1950, as it was completely shelled to the bare walls inside having a massive modernization renovation. Sara was identified by the FBI though fingerprints and her military status at the time. The authorities contacted her mother with a telephone. Sara, after being treated at two city hospitals, wasn't taken to Walter Reed, she was RETURNED to Walter Reed where she had been a patient for many weeks under observation for "fainting spells"...code back then perhaps for something a bit more worrisome? Sara was on a Walter Reed Hospital pass when she was found alone collapsed near the Washington Monument by Park Police at midnight. None of that told in this story. It leads one to wonder what other flights of fabrication are in this book?
    After making it clear it was the Patty Hearst kidnapping that put Sara Jane on a road to shoot Ford - she leaves out the incredible irony that the two women met in prison! They shared a wing and were across the hall from each other for a few days. They met and talked according to the Warden of the prison. Spieler makes it clear that Sara is a roller coaster of emotions but she is oddly select in the comments she offers made by a couple psychiatrists regarding Moore after her examinations to see if she was competent to stand trial in 1975. Six doctors examined her. Spieler neglects to share what the renowned Dr. William Menninger had to say to the Judge, newspapers and TV during the hearing on her sanity. She was sane enough to stand trial but had a past that's not to be found in this book. Dr. Menninger had some critical history to tell. That Sara Jane Moore from 1950 - 1975 had 7 times received mental illness treatments, including a stay at Bellevue in 1954 for being psychotic and out of touch with reality. Starting in 1950,.the same year she was at Walter Reed for weeks under observation for "fainting spells". Why leave this out? Not even a footnote? There's more about the less in this book but I'm out of space. When an author has a web site about a "history" book she's written that includes a movie script synopsis with her as the star seek your history elsewhere and do what I did, go to the Library. Join a newspaper archive service or two and read about it first hand.

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  • Posted January 12, 2009

    A Fascinating Story

    Reading this book felt like I was reading a novel. The story line is fast paced and the characterization of Ms. Moore is quite in depth. The mystery surrounding her remarkable behavior is quite amazing. The fact that she came so close to actually assassinating President Ford, and that she was off by only 6 inches due to a faulty sighting mechanism is a detail that few knew at the time of her attempt. I also find it quite interesting that she was an informant for the FBI as well as Randolph Hearst. The story of her involvement in, and conversion to the radical underground of the time presents perhaps the most provocative and bizarre aspects of this fascinating story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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