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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2001
Any of you that have the chance to read this book, please do. It is about President Carter's childhood in Rural Georgia growing up. It tells about his entire family, his growing up/ and around black families working his father's land, and all the black friends he made early in life, and the wonderful influence they had on him throughout his life. It tells about how they planted, worked from dawn till dark with the "earth". If you are from the City, you especially need to read this book. It is one of the most interesting books I have ever read. I am super-impressed with it, and I have once again, learned things I never knew, I just love books that teach me, and this one has. There are so many parts in this book that will simply make you smile, some parts that will make you feel badly, and many parts that will teach you things. I really enjoyed every page of this book. I especially like books that teach, keep me happy while reading them, where I can't stand to lay them down, and where I actually hate for the book to end. This is one of those wonderful, wonderful books. This book is also so very easy to read, not filled with all those fat-filled words that so many writer's enjoy writing. This book is written for plain people, for all to enjoy. In my opinion, this book deserves a Pulitzer for Literature, because it has everything a book should have.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2001
Jimmy Carter's account of his early days in Depression Days farm country of Southwest Georgia parallels closely the experience of my wife, who grew up not too far from Plains. "Did you have 'kit fish' for breakfast?" I asked. "We didn't call it kit fish but salted fish with grits was a favorite at our breakfast table, ... and was it GOOD!"
Sitting in a porch swing hung from the ceiling, talking with family and friends rocking in rocking chairs on the ample front porch watching the passing scene was a pleasant part of her early days.
And as Jimmy Carter continues, floods of familiar memories course through one's mind. Those bittersweet days of youth are with us again. Even today vestiges of that long gone time retain their marks on the society of that region today.
President Carter does us the service of recording the scene for our children to share their invisible roots in a time long gone. He is an outstanding storyteller. His book is a pleasure.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2001
"An Hour Before Daylight" is a memoir from former US President Jimmy Carter, and it covers his upbringing in rural Georgia. Growing up in the South, the cadence of his writing is familiar to me and easy to read. For me, it is a lot like one of my relatives talking about the days when they were little.
This book is not the typical autobiography, and the organization does not flow like a biography does. Although the book follows a logical pattern for the most part, the are a couple of sections where he goes back and forward in time which slightly disorients. This adds to the narrative because it has more of the feel of someone actually telling you this while you sit out on the porch after supper.
He discusses conversations with his Uncle Buddy who tells him about the early generations of the family. The reader will get a sense for how far back the Jimmy Carter's roots in the South go. Carter is showing you his sense of history and perspective to help you understand where, and when, he came from. The recollections don't come at the beginning of the book where you might think, but rather later as a kind of side note.
He also does explain things in a bit more detail. For instance, he talks about farming when he was young. Not only does he tell you how difficult it could be, but he also discusses briefly how government programs and the economy affected that particular way of life.
Knowing the world that Jimmy Carter grew up in is enlightening. It does add to my respect for the man. I would recommend this book to learn more about Jimmy Carter, but also to see what the South was like from the perspective of someone who lived there.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2001
Having lived in Southwest Georgia for more than three years, I have been reluctant to go out of my way to learn about the rich history of this area and its people. Jimmy Carter captures a life that, if dates were not ascribed, one might think it took place in an earlier century.
While I knew the Great Depression was severe and all encompassing, it never registered to me that sharecropping, a truly disheartening endeavor, prdocued less than a hundred dollars a year for an entire family. Although fortunate to grow up on a well-to-do farm, Carter's rise to high office is even more remarkable given his rural roots.
Whatever you thought of Carter as president he has become quite an author, and this book is as much eloquent as it is matter of fact. Carter describes honestly the understood racial segregation of the time, and his relationship with his father, Earl, which he describes as more professional than intimate.
Carter's childhood story is sad and inspiring. Sad because farming, a honorable way of life, is disappearing, and inspiring because Carter embodies that childhood myth that anyone can grow up to be president.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2004
Former President Carter has produced a wonderful story of his early years in Plains, Georgia. His father was a powerful man by local standards who owned a large farm which was cropped on shares by the poor blacks of the area. Mama was a nurse and it is clear that she was very much admired by her children. Carter gives an unvarnished account of life in south Georgia in the 20s and 30s. There are vivid accounts of Mama, Daddy, Uncle Buddy, and the farmers who sharecropped on the Carter's land and who became close friends. The social ways of the rural south are written about and Carter shows that it was a place where things are not always what they seem and good church going Baptists can look the other way when it meets their needs. This is a strong work, well written and a joy to read.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 25, 2001
This well-written book gives a unique look at the "memories of a rural boyhood."
I'd always read that Jimmy Carter was poor in his youth. However, compared to his neighbors and tenants, he was well-off. Furthermore, when one looks at the love and respect lavished upon him, as well as the adventures he had, one can only conclude that he was quite wealthy.
Carter was President of the United States when I was in grammar school. The information about him that I learned from school projects and Current Events was favorable. It is obvious that the experiences that are recalled in "An Hour Before Daylight" shaped this man into the leader he became. It's also evident that these experiences gave him the empathy that makes him work for Habitat for Humanity.
In summary: this book is a valuable history of not only Jimmy Carter's boyhood, but also an era of the United States that I never learned about in any class. I highly recommend it.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Reading this book, it's easy to understand why the ex-president insisted, "It's Jimmy. Just call me Jimmy." I wasn't much of a Carter fan during the man's presidency but have since come to appreciate him greatly, mostly for his honesty, sincerity, and humanity. An Hour Before Daylight makes it easy to understand how he became the person he still in.
Born on a Georgia farm during the Depression, Carter grew up in the days of rigid segregation, but at the same time all his friends were black children. He writes lucidly, sometimes lyrically and with strong nostalgia for an era of American history long past.
It's definitely worth a read.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2001
Using a journalist's eye, and introspect's heart, Jimmy Carter tells a warm and compelling tale of the times, places and people who shaped his life.
Humbly examining the elements of his youth, Jimmy Carter recounts his earliest impressions of segregation, politics, and life and death.
Jimmy Carters style is natural and compelling, and his honest appraisal of his families past is both frank and welcoming.
Clearly a man of great humilty, Jimmy Carter appraises his actions in the face of racism, expressing both pride and regret, he never blames his failings on anyone, or anything, but his own lack of understanding.
In the latter chapters of this book, Jimmy Carter closes in on his incompleted relationship with his stern but loyal father - a relationship that both shaped and confounded him.
This book is a wonderfully paced read, with the selfeffacing warmth of a Jean Shepherd tale wrapped around the sepia toned history of one of America's greatest living leaders. This is a great read.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2001
I find that President Carter's writing gets better and better with each book. Along with his book of poetry, his book about the outdoors, and of course about his faith, this may be his best as it reflects so much of what he is about and the forces that shaped him. It is is an important cultural history about the rural south, and as many have written, about the relations in close quarters between blacks and whites, but also the importance of that magical teacher that instills a love of learning.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2001
Those who are not fans of former President Jimmy Carter may choose to ignore this book and his others. However, that would be a mistake. This book isn't about politics, its simply a memoir of a boy who grew up in the rural south during the 1930's. Its a down-to-earth and fascinating description of the way Jimmy, his family, and other Georgians lived during that time period which is also known as "The Great Depression".
Those people who may appreciate his writings the most are probably those who lived through the time period. However, I think Jimmy really intended his book as an educational tool for the younger generation.
Jimmy primarily tells the story through experiences he had with a variety of people: His father, James Earl (a stern but capable father), his mother, Ms. Lillian (who defied stereotypes of the day and worked outside her home), several black share croppers he knew well, his Uncle Buddy, and finally his sisters and brother.
Its a highly readable account of lifestyles and the problems rural farmers faced because of the Great Depression. One part that has stayed with me was his father's angry reaction to having to plow his cotton crop underground one year because of New Deal agriculture policies designed to keep the price of cotton up. Jimmy recounts how everyone struggled to keep their farms and businesses afloat under the most difficult circumstances. He describes most of the people in the book in very positive terms. Most of the people were hard-working, courageous, friendly, and law-abiding. Virtues which many of us find absent in today's world. There is an innocence and decency to his childhood that seems to have permanently vanished.
The only fault I could find with this book is that I think, at times, Jimmy takes too "rose colored" a view of the past. He does admit to problems.....the discrimination encountered by black people in the south, the poverty of many rural farmers, lack of access to medical care, etc. However, these seem to be sidelights to the rest of the story. The reality is that conditions were so hard that people lead shortened lives because of them. Discrimination against black people required that they attend segregated schools, eat in segregated restaurants, and run the risk of being lynched if they ever uttered a word of complaint. These social problems deserve more comment and condemnation than they get in this book.
On the balance, this book is a highly readable account of life in the 1930's. Its a wonderful way to educate people who have no idea how people lived during this period about their way of life. If one reads no other book that Jimmy Carter has written, I would recommend this one.
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