Jacki: Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter: A Comprehensive Biography from Plains to Post-presidency

Wiping the sweat from my brow, guys. Finished this one on the very last day of February. Eek. February, why are you so short?!

Ok, so… I have a lot of feelings on this one. Bulleted list, perhaps?

  • As I get closer and closer to “present” in the challenge, I am having a hard time finding a good non-biased biography. It’s hard because there’s so much less perspective and less of a chance for us to see how decisions have panned out over time. This is the first biography that I’ve read of a president that was still living and it really did feel incomplete to get to the end and there be no real finale. In fact, this was written in 1997 so it’s a little bit dated. Since then Jimmy Carter has done some huge things, including winning the Nobel Peace Prize. This was new and different for me.
  • Also new and different: Carter was a whole different kind of politician. This was the first time that I felt like a president got into the presidency not because he loved politics but because he loved people. He started out on a school board because he wanted to help end segregation in southern Georgia. Eek. He just was obsessed with human rights and it kept bolstering him to higher positions until finally, well, he was president. I kind of love that about him, that he just wanted to do good.
  • The election that Carter won? It was just set up for him. After Johnson and Nixon and Ford and all these politician’s politicians, American was just fed up with the scandal and lies and politics. Jimmy Carter was just this humble, refreshing face. America just needed a grassroots effort, an honest guy. Jimmy Carter was governor of Georgia and just about one of the only people in America that fit the bill and just slid right in there. Nothing like good timing.
  • I felt this way with Taft (who was a judge, became president, then went on to be a Supreme Court judge) too- but I just love that Jimmy Carter’s career success isn’t being president. The big stuff in his life came later, but he just absolutely used his presidency as this platform, this stepping stone toward what he really wanted to do which was a million different humanitarian efforts. There is just something fun about the idea of being POTUS not being the highlight of a career.
  • This biography was really great. Peter Bourne admits right from the get go that he worked with Carter and loves him and while he tried to write a balanced biography, warned from the beginning that he would usually side with Carter. I thought he wrote a solid bio. He was really involved with both of Carter’s campaigns for president and because of that, I think that he focused way too much on that part and not as much on the presidency. Seriously, there were about 80 pages on his first campaign. Yawn. But other than that? Great stuff. Highly recommended.



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