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Stuart Eizenstat was at Jimmy Carter’s side from his political rise in Georgia through four years in the White House, where he served as chief domestic policy adviser. He was directly involved in all domestic and economic decisions as well as in many foreign policy ones. Famous for the legal pads he took to every meeting, he draws on more than 7,500 pages of notes and 350 interviews of all the major figures of the time to write the comprehensive history of an underappreciated president - and to give an intimate view on how the presidency works.
Eizenstat reveals the grueling negotiations behind Carter’s peace between Israel and Egypt, what led to the return of the Panama Canal, and how Carter made human rights a presidential imperative. He follows Carter’s passing of America’s first comprehensive energy policy and his deregulation of the oil, gas, transportation, and communications industries. And he details the creation of the modern vice presidency.
Eizenstat also details Carter’s many missteps, including the Iranian Hostage Crisis, because Carter’s desire to do the right thing, not the political thing, often hurt him and alienated Congress. His willingness to tackle intractable problems, however, led to major, long-lasting accomplishments.
This major work of history shows firsthand where Carter succeeded, where he failed, and how he set up many successes of later presidents.
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By John David on 06-06-18
Book Like Administration: Well-Meaning But Flawed
This is an attempt at historic rehabilitation of the Carter administration by an insider. Like the administration itself, the book is well-meaning, but flawed. It needed an editor the way the Carter White House needed a Chief of Staff. There is repetition. And there is repetition. There is just enough memoir to be distracting, and occasionally annoying. By using a topical organization scheme rather than a chronological one the book never creates a good picture of what was going on at any one time and makes it difficult for the reader to synthesize the material. All this said, Eizenstat occasionally succeeds in convincing the reader that Carter's for years included more substantive achievement than recognized. And he levels some candid and serious criticisms of his beloved boss. But, again like the administration itself, the book manifests a sometimes shocking degree of naivete and self-righteousness. There are more than a few OMG moments when it is difficult to believe that Carter believed what he believed or did what he did. The book brought back many memories, but very few of them good. America was a post-Vietnam, post-Watergate mess in many ways from 1976-1980, and Jimmy Carter was a President for the times.
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