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Each day during his presidency, Jimmy Carter made several entries in a private diary, recording his thoughts, impressions, delights, and frustrations. He offered unvarnished assessments of cabinet members, congressmen, and foreign leaders; he narrated the progress of secret negotiations, such as those that led to the Camp David Accords. When his four-year term came to an end in early 1981, the diary amounted to more than 5,000 pages. But this extraordinary document has never been made public - until now. By carefully selecting the most illuminating and relevant entries, Carter has provided us with an astonishingly intimate view of his presidency. Day by day, we see his forceful advocacy for nuclear containment, sustainable energy, human rights, and peace in the Middle East. We witness his interactions with such complex personalities as Ted Kennedy, Henry Kissinger, Joe Biden, Anwar Sadat, and Menachem Begin. We get the inside story of his so-called “malaise speech”, his bruising battle for the 1980 Democratic nomination, and the Iranian hostage crisis. Remarkably, we also get Carter’s retrospective comments on these topics and more: 30 years after the fact, he has annotated the diary with his candid reflections on the people and events that shaped his presidency, and on the many lessons learned. Carter is now widely seen as one of the truly wise men of our time. Offering an unprecedented look at both the man and his tenure, this fascinating book will stand as a unique contribution to the history of the American presidency.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Theo Horesh on 12-13-10
Honest, Undoctored, Fascinating, Comprehensive
The diaries are remarkable in the way they reveal the nature of the Presidency. Histories reveal the issues that we look back on in retrospect as important. Memoirs are filled with justifications. This diary gives a sense of what was important to President Carter on a daily basis. This is a remarkable view of the Presidency.
Moreover, Jimmy Carter is a weirdly honest person. Whatever you might think of his politics, his unwillingness to doctor the diaries allows for a fair assessment of his time in office.
This was a remarkable time in American history that we seem to forget. The Camp David Accords brought a measure of peace between Israel and her neighbors even as Lebanon slid into civil war and the Iranian Revolution brought Islamic radicals to power for the first time. In his tenure in office, Carter pressed negotiated a new Panama Canal treaty that transformed the American relationship with Latin America. When he entered office, most of the leaders there were military dictators; when he left almost all of the nations were holding
There are quirky elements to the book as well. When the somewhat puritanical Carter meets women, he will freely say, "she was very attractive." Scoop Jackson is regularly irritating him.
Carter teaches Sunday school each week to about 250 people. He is a hardcore evangelical, pressuring Deng Xiao Ping to allow for the free distribution of Bibles.
This is a remarkable man by any standards: successful farmer, business person, nuclear engineer, Navy Admiral, State Senator, Governor, President, founder of two major international non-profits, mediator, religious leader, professor, and author of 26 books.
The book is kept lively by switching between a reader and updates on the issues in the Diary from Carter. If you love Carter as I do, then this is an easy five stars. If you don't like his politics, it is a four star. If you hate him, and you aren't tight on cash, this is a useful corrective worth hearing.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
By Lynn on 06-06-11
An Annotated Diary
Essentially, this is an annotated edition of President Jimmy Carter’s diary which he kept while in Washington. He has very brief comments related to each portion which refer to specific circumstances, explain circumstances, or comment on current, present outcomes. I am not a particular fan of Jimmy Carter, but I did find the book interesting though not exciting. It allows a glimpse into the President’s daily life and routine and reads in a routine sort of way. It is revealing in a few places, but there are not real surprises if you are familiar with the territory. If you are a fan of Carter you will be rewarded. If you are not a fan, you will find the diary self serving. However, diaries and memoirs are written to support one’s own point of view. If readers will simply suspend judgment and let Carter explain himself, they will be rewarded. For me, a far more exciting and rewarding glimpse into how a president’s life in office is revealed in “Reading for Glory” the White House tapes of Lyndon Johnson. These are also annotated and edited, but it is LBJ unguarded. This record is also available from Audible and a wonderful listen. The annotations are read by the President and the diary portions are aptly interpreted by Boyd Gaines.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful