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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.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
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