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The maverick politician from Georgia who rode the post- Watergate wave into office but whose term was consumed by economic and international crises A peanut farmer from Georgia, Jimmy Carter rose to national power through mastering the strategy of the maverick politician. As the face of the "New South," Carter's strongest support emanated from his ability to communicate di The maverick politician from Georgia who rode the post- Watergate wave into office but whose term was consumed by economic and international crises A peanut farmer from Georgia, Jimmy Carter rose to national power through mastering the strategy of the maverick politician. As the face of the "New South," Carter's strongest support emanated from his ability to communicate directly to voters who were disaffected by corruption in politics. But running as an outsider was easier than governing as one, as Princeton historian Julian E. Zelizer shows in this examination of Carter's presidency. Once in power, Carter faced challenges sustaining a strong political coalition, as he focused on policies that often antagonized key Democrats, whose support he desperately needed. By 1980, Carter stood alone in the Oval Office as he confronted a battered economy, soaring oil prices, American hostages in Iran, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Carter's unpopularity enabled Ronald Reagan to achieve a landslide victory, ushering in a conservative revolution. But during Carter's post-presidential career, he has emerged as an important voice for international diplomacy and negotiation, remaking his image as a statesman for our time.


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The maverick politician from Georgia who rode the post- Watergate wave into office but whose term was consumed by economic and international crises A peanut farmer from Georgia, Jimmy Carter rose to national power through mastering the strategy of the maverick politician. As the face of the "New South," Carter's strongest support emanated from his ability to communicate di The maverick politician from Georgia who rode the post- Watergate wave into office but whose term was consumed by economic and international crises A peanut farmer from Georgia, Jimmy Carter rose to national power through mastering the strategy of the maverick politician. As the face of the "New South," Carter's strongest support emanated from his ability to communicate directly to voters who were disaffected by corruption in politics. But running as an outsider was easier than governing as one, as Princeton historian Julian E. Zelizer shows in this examination of Carter's presidency. Once in power, Carter faced challenges sustaining a strong political coalition, as he focused on policies that often antagonized key Democrats, whose support he desperately needed. By 1980, Carter stood alone in the Oval Office as he confronted a battered economy, soaring oil prices, American hostages in Iran, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Carter's unpopularity enabled Ronald Reagan to achieve a landslide victory, ushering in a conservative revolution. But during Carter's post-presidential career, he has emerged as an important voice for international diplomacy and negotiation, remaking his image as a statesman for our time.

30 review for Jimmy Carter

  1. 5 out of 5

    Doreen Petersen

    Excellent book! Carter's lasting legacy will be what he did out of office.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Joshua

    3.5 stars. A good, digestible Carter biography. Zelizer maybe dwells more on Carter's campaigns than on his actual service in office. The book moves swiftly and covers a lot of ground in just 150 pages of text (the rest is references and indexing). Facts are all backed up by references, and the books comes off as an honest and fair portrayal of Carter's public life to date, focusing primarily on his Presidency, of course, since this book is part of a series on the American Presidents. Carter is 3.5 stars. A good, digestible Carter biography. Zelizer maybe dwells more on Carter's campaigns than on his actual service in office. The book moves swiftly and covers a lot of ground in just 150 pages of text (the rest is references and indexing). Facts are all backed up by references, and the books comes off as an honest and fair portrayal of Carter's public life to date, focusing primarily on his Presidency, of course, since this book is part of a series on the American Presidents. Carter is framed as a maverick politician, beating the odds and the party machinery to clinch the Democratic nomination. He rides the wave of Watergate cynicism into the office, but then never manages to master governance as President, with fractious relationships with his party and key Democratic constituencies. These relationships are further frayed as political crises unfold, such as the Iran Hostage Crisis, which in many ways defined Carter's Presidency as a failure and cost him a chance at a second term. Zelizer tries to contextualize a bit, giving a sense that perhaps any Democrat would have had a similarly challenging ride in that era. The party itself was reeling from inner divisions, economic troubles were severe with few answers that anyone was agreeable to (much like now - 2011), and the Iran Hostage Crisis and Soviet invasion of Afghanistan were viewed through lenses clouded by Cold War thinking, which is a "cloudy" view, I suppose, only in retrospect. A final chapter and epilogue describe Carter's unusually active and controversial post-presidency. Personally, I think he comes off as a better post-president than a President. A total idealist, reveling in his freedom from political restraints. Overall, a nice quick read, but not unfair in its brevity.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ross

    Not a big carter fan, but we'll written.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ben Truong

    Jimmy Carter is the thirtieth-eighth book in The American Presidents series – a biographical series chronicling the Presidents of the United States. Julian E. Zelizer wrote this particular installment and edited by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. and Sean Wilentz. James Earl Carter Jr. is an American politician, philanthropist, and former farmer who served as the thirty-ninth President of the United States from 1977–1981. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served as a Georgia State Senator Jimmy Carter is the thirtieth-eighth book in The American Presidents series – a biographical series chronicling the Presidents of the United States. Julian E. Zelizer wrote this particular installment and edited by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. and Sean Wilentz. James Earl Carter Jr. is an American politician, philanthropist, and former farmer who served as the thirty-ninth President of the United States from 1977–1981. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served as a Georgia State Senator from 1963–1967 and as the seventy-sixth Governor of Georgia from 1971–1975. Since leaving the presidency, Carter has remained active in the private sector and in 2002 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in co-founding the Carter Center. In a nation still reeling from Watergate, Carter's 1976 campaign stressing freedom from Washington politics propelled him to the presidency. Zelizer regretfully points out that outsider status may win elections but exercising power requires traditional insider arm-twisting which Carter was slow to learn. His successes including the SALT II arms treaty, the Egyptian-Israeli Camp David peace accords, and a Social Security tax increase. Zelizer feels Carter's hardest fought victory, passage of the Panama Canal treaty, damaged him by energizing his enemies without increasing his popularity because few Americans cared. They cared about inflation and unemployment, and Carter managed to anger both liberals and conservatives by rejecting both expensive social programs and massive tax cuts. Few blame him for Iran's revolution or the hostage-taking at the American embassy, but no presidential reputation could survive their long captivity or the bungled rescue attempt. Zelizer concurs with other historians' lukewarm opinion of Carter but adds that many problems were beyond his control. All in all, Jimmy Carter is a good, albeit concise biography of the thirtieth-ninth President and it is a good continuation to what would hopefully be a wonderful series of presidential biographies, which I plan to read in the very near future.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michael Loveless

    Zelizer writes of Carter that he had significant strengths and even achievements, but in the end he had no real constituency, nor was he willing or able to win one. For example, on reporter said of Carter’s 1979 State of the Union Address, “[It was delivered by Carter, who was unable] to lay claim to the unshakeable support of any single constituency. Even theough the legislative branch is filled with members of his own party, they received his speech with almost as little enthusiasm as they sho Zelizer writes of Carter that he had significant strengths and even achievements, but in the end he had no real constituency, nor was he willing or able to win one. For example, on reporter said of Carter’s 1979 State of the Union Address, “[It was delivered by Carter, who was unable] to lay claim to the unshakeable support of any single constituency. Even theough the legislative branch is filled with members of his own party, they received his speech with almost as little enthusiasm as they showed the pariah Richard Nixon in his last State of the Union….”Carter’s presidency failed because he was stubborn, inexperienced, and idealistic. Unable and unwilling to compromise in ways that could gain support. His presidency was a missed opportunity. The first 50 pages are about Carter’s early life, political beginnings and run for the presidency. The author is fairly objective in his treatment. His overall tone is sympathetic, but he does not shy away from discussing Carter’s flaws and mistakes. The author does spend a lot of time describing Carter’s troubled relations with Israel and Jewish Americans. The book contains useful information about Carter’s relations with Congress (pp. 54, 58, 78-79 ); Jewish Americans (pp. 58, 64-65, ) It also highlights Carter’s promising early achievements (chap. 4). There is a helpful section explaining why Carter lacked strong backers on pages 92-95.

  6. 4 out of 5

    David

    The last few bios from this series ware lacking; they had left me wanting for more in depth, breadth, and scope. Yes, I know they are surveys but still, there had to be more meat than there was written. So with this biography of Jimmy Carter I can answer the question "Where's the Beef?" This illumination of the failed president but successful statesman and dedicated humanitarian gave me what I wanted in a survey bio. I always knew, and taught as much, about the failed presidency of our 39th presid The last few bios from this series ware lacking; they had left me wanting for more in depth, breadth, and scope. Yes, I know they are surveys but still, there had to be more meat than there was written. So with this biography of Jimmy Carter I can answer the question "Where's the Beef?" This illumination of the failed president but successful statesman and dedicated humanitarian gave me what I wanted in a survey bio. I always knew, and taught as much, about the failed presidency of our 39th president James Earl Carter. His failings were primarily that he was not a politician in the way we would understand that term. He was a maverick before it was "fashionable" to be one (I am looking at the late John McCain, with all respect), but he was not a deal maker, could not shake the sense that he was right and everyone else was wrong (which was the case many times) and could not bring himself to be a legislative leader and to work with Congress. Had he been governor of Georgia longer, had someone counseled him more, or better, in the art of the deal, he may have had a second term and he may be remembered as a great president as well as a great former president. Unfortunately, he will have to settle for being a respected (and yet still failed) former president and near-model elder statesman.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Litsinger

    After deciding that President Carter: The White House Years was too terrible to continue, I found myself once again turning to "The American Presidents" series. This was a serviceable but fairly conventional view of Carter's life and presidency. It's too short to go into much depth. I suppose eventually someone will capture a comprehensive picture of Carter's life, but in the meantime, we'll make due where we can. After deciding that President Carter: The White House Years was too terrible to continue, I found myself once again turning to "The American Presidents" series. This was a serviceable but fairly conventional view of Carter's life and presidency. It's too short to go into much depth. I suppose eventually someone will capture a comprehensive picture of Carter's life, but in the meantime, we'll make due where we can.

  8. 4 out of 5

    robin friedman

    An Outsider President The words "outsider" and "maverick" come readily to mind in Julian Zelizer's short biography of the 39th United States president, Jimmy Carter. Carter (b. 1924) served a single term as president from 1977 -- 1981, losing his bid for reelection in a landslide to Ronald Reagan. Although judgments must be cautious for a still-recent presidency, Carter's administration has been viewed with disfavor and is likely to remain so. Zelizer, a widely respected author and professor of h An Outsider President The words "outsider" and "maverick" come readily to mind in Julian Zelizer's short biography of the 39th United States president, Jimmy Carter. Carter (b. 1924) served a single term as president from 1977 -- 1981, losing his bid for reelection in a landslide to Ronald Reagan. Although judgments must be cautious for a still-recent presidency, Carter's administration has been viewed with disfavor and is likely to remain so. Zelizer, a widely respected author and professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, has written a carefully measured account. Zelizer shares the negative view of Carter's presidency while he recognizes certain strengths. He offers a fair minded balanced study in this short biography, written as part of the American Presidents Series. This series offers good brief overviews of each of the American presidents together with insights about the varied characteristics of leadership. Carter's presidency can be approached by thinking about what it means to be an "outsider" and a "maverick". Born in the town of Plains, Georgia, Carter enjoyed a distinguished career in the Navy before returning home to Georgia in 1953, He gradually entered state politics, winning election as the Governor of Georgia 1n 1970 on a moderate, ambiguous platform. He became a dark horse vice presidential candidate in 1972 but George McGovern rebuffed him. Carter soon determined to seek the presidency on his own. In 1973, he appeared on a popular television show "What's my Line" and the panelists (who sometimes wore blindfolds on the show but not in Carter's case) had the greatest difficulty in identifying him as a governor. In 1976, with the scandals of Watergate, the still raw wounds of Vietnam, and rampant inflation, the leading Democrats declined to run for president. This opened the way for Carter, who ran a skilled, organized, personal campaign and won many primaries even though few voters showed a strong commitment to him. Carter ran avowedly as an "outsider" to official Washington and its corruption and inability to solve problems. Other candidates since have adopted the stance of "outsider" but none as effectively as Carter. In the presidential campaign of 2008, the Republican candidate, John McCain, was dubbed a "maverick" and the term is at least as apt for Carter. As Zelizer shows, Carter was an individual of formidable intellect and independence. He resisted easy categorization under the terms "liberal", "conservative" and "moderate" and seemed to adopt pragmatic problem-geared approaches. He did not follow a party agenda but tried in an political world to steer his own course. On occasion he succeeded. More often, Carter seemed to lack any sense of purpose or program while alienating both his own potential supporters and his opponents. In his study, Zelizer gives a good brief portrayal of Carter's early life and political career in Georgia, his presidential campaigns in 1976 and 1980, his administration, and his long post-presidential career, in which Carter has continued as a gadfly and as a maverick and outsider for good and ill. Zelizer finds that Carter "left the Democratic Party in shambles" largely through his status as an outsider and maverick. Zelizer writes "in essence, Carter's interest lay in the challenges of presidential leadership rather than the challenges of being a party leader. He was willing to use his political position to push the nation through difficult choices, but he was less interested or successful in taking the steps that were needed to leave his party more united and in a stronger political position by the 1980 election". Zelizer argues that Carter faced problems that would have taxed the skills of a stronger leader, including runaway inflation, ideological and polarizing divisions in both parties, and the aftermath of Watergate and Vietnam. Although he had some successes, including a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, Carter did not offer strong, decisive or convincing leadership. Within his own party, his presidency foundered in a dispute with Ted Kennedy over health care, an issue which strongly divided Americans in earlier administrations and continues to do so. His foreign affairs policies waffled. Carter remains best-known for the manner in which he handled the hostage crisis with Iran, the most important issue which doomed his presidency. This book was painful for me to read because many of the issues and divisions which vexed the United States and Carter's administration remain with us today. On July 15, 1979, deep in the problems of his administration, Carter gave a famous televised speech about difficulties in the national condition. Zelizer quotes the following passage: "It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation. The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America." Opinions vary about the speech. Carter may well have diagnosed a national condition that remains with us even while he proved singularly proving inept in governance. Zelizer's study of the Carter presidency tells a sad story but one that might help Americans understand their present and work towards their future. Robin Friedman

  9. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Sternisha

    Short, well-written, but pretty standard biography on Carter. Zelizer does a nice job of getting of touching on the difficult transition of Carter running as an anti-establishment candidate and then having to govern as the head of the party. There could have been more detailed discussion on many topics, but the short length of this biography precluded this. Overall, a nice intro to Carter's life and presidency.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    This is my second book of The American Presidents series, which I feel is better suited for one-term presidents. Normally a prefer a more granular history. With that said, the book sparks interest for further reading, e.g. neo-liberal economics, or middle east peace negotiations. A decent, concise history.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Robert Lloyd

    An informative Biography Presidential history is a fascinating topic, and how each president affected the presidency and handled the challenges of their day is a subject every citizen of the United States should study. The author did a great job of detailing the weaknesses of the Carter administration as well as some of the strengths that weren't as obvious back then.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kaleb

    It was an interesting read overall. Jimmy Carter seemed like an interesting character overall, especially considering he was elected president. It was a quick read and seemed like a 10,000 foot overview which was just what I was looking for. I would suggest to anyone interested in presidential biographies.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ian Hardouin

    Good, concise retelling of Carter's presidency. The narrative describes Jimmy as a maverick, "independent" Democrat who achieved higher office because he was just that, but whose positioning then resulted in difficulties once in office with a Congress controlled by his party.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    You did that hungry!! I loved it, every twist and turn caught me by surprise!! I can’t wait to read more of your books....

  15. 4 out of 5

    Zach Koenig

    Halfway through this book, I was really disappointed by author Julian Zelizer's choice to focus on such in-depth material for this "lighter series. Luckily, the second half of the book changes focus and gets back on track. For such a controversial President (at least in terms of how he is perceived), I did feel that this book did a decent job of keeping a basically objective tact. I didn't feel like I had to wade through opinion, which is always nice. Like I said, the beginning of the book really Halfway through this book, I was really disappointed by author Julian Zelizer's choice to focus on such in-depth material for this "lighter series. Luckily, the second half of the book changes focus and gets back on track. For such a controversial President (at least in terms of how he is perceived), I did feel that this book did a decent job of keeping a basically objective tact. I didn't feel like I had to wade through opinion, which is always nice. Like I said, the beginning of the book really focuses on "policy stuff" and "behind-the-scenes" politics, which really grinds things to a halt. I dislike when authors in this series take that approach. But, by the second/third years of the Carter Administration, to starts to focus on just the major events and Carter's personality (the material I feel this series needs in order to thrive). Overall, then, a middling effort. Not enthralling, but not terrible either. Hits all the major issues (sometimes in great detail) and will teach you a little history in the process.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Scott Cox

    Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States, took office during the late 1970’s, a tumultuous time following the Vietnam War and Watergate eras. He defeated President Gerald Ford on a platform of being a “new” Democrat from the “new” South. He was considered to be a fiscal conservative, seeking a balanced budget. He was also a man of faith, which attracted many evangelical voters to his cause. Yet these very traits often put him at odds with his own party. The accomplishments of his one te Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States, took office during the late 1970’s, a tumultuous time following the Vietnam War and Watergate eras. He defeated President Gerald Ford on a platform of being a “new” Democrat from the “new” South. He was considered to be a fiscal conservative, seeking a balanced budget. He was also a man of faith, which attracted many evangelical voters to his cause. Yet these very traits often put him at odds with his own party. The accomplishments of his one term in office included passage of a National Energy Plan (replete with a solar energy plan), championing human rights in his foreign policy, brokering a Middle East peace between Egypt and Israel, and transfer of the Panama Canal back to Panama. Unfortunately, his administration was also tainted by an economic downturn and the Iranian hostage situation that began near the end of his first term. Especially embarrassing was a failed rescue attempt, Operation Eagle Claw, wherein eight Americans were killed along with captured helicopters and classified information. Regarding the recession, the door was opened for a “new” conservative Republican leadership led by Ronald Reagan. Indeed, Reagan quipped, “A recession is when your neighbor loses his job, and a depression is when you lose your job, and recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his.” Reagan soundly defeated President Carter in the 1980 election. However Julian Zelizer, author of this concise biography, notes that once Carter was no longer president, he was free to “embark on one of the most active post-presidential periods in American history.” This included monitoring the fairness of third world elections, involvement with Habitat for Humanity, and support for the Palestine cause in the Middle East (authoring “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid”). Though often controversial, these efforts no longer hurt nor helped the Democratic Party, and were often well received as a voice not beholding to political vagaries.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kanstantsin

    Jimmy Carter may have been not one of the most successful U.S. Presidents (though not from the lack of trying), but his life has surely been an eventful one. He was raised on a small farm without electricity, served on a nuclear submarine, went back to farming, tried his hand at politics and rapidly rose from being in the Georgia Senate to the Presidency, wisely using the unique opportunities after Watergate and showing to next generations of politicians why early primaries matter. After four ye Jimmy Carter may have been not one of the most successful U.S. Presidents (though not from the lack of trying), but his life has surely been an eventful one. He was raised on a small farm without electricity, served on a nuclear submarine, went back to farming, tried his hand at politics and rapidly rose from being in the Georgia Senate to the Presidency, wisely using the unique opportunities after Watergate and showing to next generations of politicians why early primaries matter. After four years of stagflation and misguided attempts to resolve new international challenges, Carter lost to Reagan and dedicated his post-presidential years to promoting human rights worldwide and furthering various humanitarian causes where he happened to be much more successful. The life so long and full of events is, unfortunately, poorly suited for the American Presidents series format which aims to be short and provide only a basic biography with some flavours added. Julian Zelizer did a good job of trying to cover as much as possible, but some sections appear oversaturated with details (such as Carter's electoral campaigns), while some are lacking them (his tenures as governor and senator are covered very briefly). But, overall, it's a nice biography and an interesting read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Andy Miller

    A balanced biography of Jimmy Carter, concise as are all the others in the American Presidents Series. The author, Julian Zelizer does a great job in describing how Carter's drive, self confidence, and an outsider perspective contributed to the running of a brilliant campaign that captured the Democratic nomination and general election. However, those same personal traits contributed to his shortcomings in meeting the challenges to his actual Presidency. Carter's self confidence as a candidate g A balanced biography of Jimmy Carter, concise as are all the others in the American Presidents Series. The author, Julian Zelizer does a great job in describing how Carter's drive, self confidence, and an outsider perspective contributed to the running of a brilliant campaign that captured the Democratic nomination and general election. However, those same personal traits contributed to his shortcomings in meeting the challenges to his actual Presidency. Carter's self confidence as a candidate gave way to a know it arrogance as a President, the appeal of his post Watergate "outsider" candidate prevented him from building coalitions as President as well as listening to input that would have made him a better President. To be sure, Zelizer describes the special challenges that Carter faced as President, more than most Presidents, and describes Carter's successes such as the Panama Canal treaty, Camp David accords, the foundation of a energy policy. However, as Zelizer notes, other Presidents faced larger challenges, Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt are two obvious examples, and used leadership skills to rally the country while Carter's personal traits seemed to prevent Carter from attaining such leadership

  19. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    This is that very rare thing: a short biography written for adults. Though a little too long in describing Carter's presidential campaign, it's enjoyably written. I wish there had been more historical perspective and less blow-by-blow. It's written much like the way news is reported. Lots of machinations without deep thinking into what is important. It's so interesting to read about the names and events that you heard about as a child. I can't attest to the accuracy because many of the details ar This is that very rare thing: a short biography written for adults. Though a little too long in describing Carter's presidential campaign, it's enjoyably written. I wish there had been more historical perspective and less blow-by-blow. It's written much like the way news is reported. Lots of machinations without deep thinking into what is important. It's so interesting to read about the names and events that you heard about as a child. I can't attest to the accuracy because many of the details are new to me. I can report that that author is not a fan of Carter. But I always was. Energy conservation, human rights, negotiation over military intervention, helping people be able to house themselves, these are my priorities, too. Zelizer's omission of the solar panels on the White House during Carter's administration made me wonder if they were really there. They were. Apparently, GW Bush had them, too. (Who knew?) Carter, in an interview during his time in the georgia legislature, when asked whether he was liberal, conservative, or moderate: "I am more complicated than that." (p.19) Aren't we all? Aren't all issues more complicated than that?

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    This is the 68th book I've read about 40 of our Presidents in my quest to read at least one book about each President. Jimmy Carter was the worst President EVER. Until recently. Why until recently you might ask? If you have to ask then you're part of the problem. Why did Jimmy hold the title for so long? Let's see . . . Panama Canal treaties, Noriega, energy crisis, gas lines, failure to respond to Muslim insurgents who deposed the Shah of Iran, failure to address Soviet invasion of Afghanistan This is the 68th book I've read about 40 of our Presidents in my quest to read at least one book about each President. Jimmy Carter was the worst President EVER. Until recently. Why until recently you might ask? If you have to ask then you're part of the problem. Why did Jimmy hold the title for so long? Let's see . . . Panama Canal treaties, Noriega, energy crisis, gas lines, failure to respond to Muslim insurgents who deposed the Shah of Iran, failure to address Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and on and on. Much is made of his post-President accomplishments. Yes he has done a lot for human rights. But as a former President he intentionally and maliciously betrayed the trust of subsequent administrations. Finally there is the Jimmy Carter School of Leadership. Let's see, how about I sit here on the floor in my blue jeans, surrounded by my advisors, and ask them what I'm doing wrong. Yesiree that's leadership! And there's one more thing from Ronald Reagon who paraphrased President Truman: 'Recession is when your neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours. And recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his.'

  21. 4 out of 5

    Steven Peterson

    A nice addition to this series of brief biographies of American presidents. The focus here is Jimmy Carter. The author has no reservations about being critical where such is appropriate, so the book has a bit of an edge (but not inappropriately so, in my judgment). The book begins by outlining Jimmy Carter's background, his first efforts at politics, his success as a candidate for governor, and his strategic approach to running for president. Then, his presidency. From a promising beginning to mo A nice addition to this series of brief biographies of American presidents. The focus here is Jimmy Carter. The author has no reservations about being critical where such is appropriate, so the book has a bit of an edge (but not inappropriately so, in my judgment). The book begins by outlining Jimmy Carter's background, his first efforts at politics, his success as a candidate for governor, and his strategic approach to running for president. Then, his presidency. From a promising beginning to more difficult sledding. Finally, the problems of the last part of his presidency, including the hostage crisis and the economic stagnation facing the country. Unlike many presidents, there has been an active, visible, and controversial post-presidential career. The book, overall, does a good job of presenting Jimmy Carter, assessing his body of work, and doing so in rather brief fashion, making this accessible to people who do not want a one thousand word biography.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    This book is very short. It only consists of 150 pages for reading, while the rest are for the bibliography. It could be finished in one sitting. However, there is a problem. As one who is not very exhilarated over Jimmy Carter's presidency or post-presidency (his political life in general), I decided to tackle this book just to learn more about the commander-in-chief whom I may have judged a little bit too harshly. I realized I haven't. While my political thoughts are insignificant to this book r This book is very short. It only consists of 150 pages for reading, while the rest are for the bibliography. It could be finished in one sitting. However, there is a problem. As one who is not very exhilarated over Jimmy Carter's presidency or post-presidency (his political life in general), I decided to tackle this book just to learn more about the commander-in-chief whom I may have judged a little bit too harshly. I realized I haven't. While my political thoughts are insignificant to this book review, it is, however, worth noting that Zelizer successfully wrote a novel based on pure objective and no opinion. I think that is notable in itself, but whether I would read an actual book about Jimmy Carter in the future is still something I have to think about.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Fred Kohn

    Not the worst in this series, but below the curve. Admittedly it is difficult to cover a president in a mere 150 pages, but I think this fellow made bad choices in choosing what to emphasize. Carter's presidency was covered in only about 80 pages, with the first 50 devoted to his early years and governorship and a lengthy chapter devoted to his post-presidential career. True, Carter's post-presidential career was particularly important and interesting, and I did enjoy the chapter, but it did mak Not the worst in this series, but below the curve. Admittedly it is difficult to cover a president in a mere 150 pages, but I think this fellow made bad choices in choosing what to emphasize. Carter's presidency was covered in only about 80 pages, with the first 50 devoted to his early years and governorship and a lengthy chapter devoted to his post-presidential career. True, Carter's post-presidential career was particularly important and interesting, and I did enjoy the chapter, but it did make the book seem even more unbalanced. My main beef was what the author chose to cover in the 80 pages about Carter's presidency. An inordinate amount of time was spent discussing Carter's campaigning.

  24. 4 out of 5

    James P

    Able to recruit large numbers of followers by shrewd political persuasion as a campaigner, but unable to make the compromises necessary to work with power brokers who had their own ideas of how to resolve issues and retain their respective power bases as politicians. The accomplishments of the Carter Center are clearly laudable even though they often go against the 'wisdom' of the dominant world powers. Similar to Madison in the possession of a skill set that moves humanity forward but lacks the Able to recruit large numbers of followers by shrewd political persuasion as a campaigner, but unable to make the compromises necessary to work with power brokers who had their own ideas of how to resolve issues and retain their respective power bases as politicians. The accomplishments of the Carter Center are clearly laudable even though they often go against the 'wisdom' of the dominant world powers. Similar to Madison in the possession of a skill set that moves humanity forward but lacks the critical skills of an effective political leader. Succinct insight into the mans strengths and weaknesses.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I've never really thought the world of Jimmy Carter and this book didn't improve my view of him. The writing itself was bland, boring, and seemed to gloss over most everything (except election numbers and analysis). Although I am happy that Jimmy Carter makes a profession of faith and that he has led a somewhat moral life and advocated for moral values, I just was not impressed with his style of leadership and a lot of his political views. I'm glad to move on to one of my favorite presidents. :)

  26. 5 out of 5

    David

    A serviceable summary, in 150 pages, of Carter's work, capped by his receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. Zelizer sticks to straight reporting for the body of the book (in somewhat dry prose), and is only evaluative in a short epilogue that assesses Carter's successes and failures. Working in such a compact form, the book is forced to introduce names of people and places without any context. Younger readers may wonder why Bill Moyers and Jesse Jacskon are important (they make drive-by appear A serviceable summary, in 150 pages, of Carter's work, capped by his receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. Zelizer sticks to straight reporting for the body of the book (in somewhat dry prose), and is only evaluative in a short epilogue that assesses Carter's successes and failures. Working in such a compact form, the book is forced to introduce names of people and places without any context. Younger readers may wonder why Bill Moyers and Jesse Jacskon are important (they make drive-by appearances on p. 96) or exactly what and what Camp David is.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Francios B

    Ok . . . Carter was as honest as a President can probably be. He was a little to partisan to the Arab side of the middle east conflict for me however his Heart was in the right place. He wanted Peace in the middle east more then the Israelis and the Arabs did so that's why He couldn't meet his entire agenda.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Short book by the group writing biographies of each president. Carter was probably the most moral of all our presidents and likely due to this, was not the popular. I've been impressed with his diplomatic endeavors since then.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jerry Landry

    Zelizer does a good job in his summation of Carter's life, focusing on his four turbulent years as president but also providing some insight into his rise to power in addition to his active post-presidency.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Really liked this book. A great review of Carter's presidency as well as his post presidential accomplishments. I highly recommend - not only as a history review, but a "good look" at current affairs.

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