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An Hour Before Daylight: Memories Of A Rural Boyhood [Kindle Edition]

Jimmy Carter
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $12.99
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Book Description

In an American story of enduring importance, Jimmy Carter re-creates his Depression-era boyhood on a Georgia farm, before the civil rights movement that changed it and the country.
In what is sure to become a classic, the bestselling author of Living Faith and Sources of Strength writes about the powerful rhythms of countryside and community in a sharecropping economy. Along the way, he offers an unforgettable portrait of his father, a brilliant farmer and strict segregationist who treated black workers with his own brand of "separate" respect and fairness, and his strong-willed and well-read mother, a nurse who cared for all in need -- regardless of their position in the community.
Carter describes the five other people who shaped his early life, only two of them white: his eccentric relatives who sometimes caused the boy to examine his heritage with dismay; the boyhood friends with whom he hunted with slingshots and boomerangs and worked the farm, but who could not attend the same school; and the eminent black bishop who refused to come to the Carters' back door but who would stand near his Cadillac in the front yard discussing crops and politics with Jimmy's father.
Carter's clean and eloquent prose evokes a time when the cycles of life were predictable and simple and the rules were heartbreaking and complex. In his singular voice and with a novelist's gift for detail, Jimmy Carter creates a sensitive portrait of an era that shaped the nation.
An Hour Before Daylight is destined to stand with other timeless works of American literature.

Editorial Reviews Review

Born on October 1, 1924, Jimmy Carter grew up on a Georgia farm during the Great Depression. In An Hour Before Daylight, the former president tells the story of his rural boyhood, and paints a sensitive portrait of America before the civil rights movement.

Carter describes--in glorious, if sometimes gory, detail--growing up on a farm where everything was done by either hand or mule: plowing fields, "mopping" cotton to kill pests, cutting sugar cane, shaking peanuts, or processing pork. He also describes the joys of walking barefoot ("this habit alone helped to create a sense of intimacy with the earth"), taking naps with his father on the porch after lunch, and hunting with slingshots and boomerangs with his playmates--all of whom were black. Carter was in constant contact with his black neighbors; he worked alongside them, ate in their homes, and often spent the night in the home of Rachel and Jack Clark, "on a pallet on the floor stuffed with corn shucks," when his parents were away. However, this intimacy was possible only on the farm. When young Jimmy and his best friend, A.D. Davis, went to town to see a movie, they waited for the train together, paid their 15 cents, and then separated into "white" and "colored" compartments. Once in Americus, they walked to the theater together, but separated again, with Jimmy buying a seat on the main floor or first balcony at the front door, and A.D. going around to the back door to buy his seat up in the upper balcony. After the movie, they returned home on another segregated train. "I don't remember ever questioning the mandatory racial separation, which we accepted like breathing or waking up in Archery every morning."

In this warm, almost sepia-toned narrative, Carter describes his relationships with his parents and with the five people--only two of whom were white--who most affected his early life. Best of all, however, Carter presents his sweetly nostalgic recollections of a lost America. --Sunny Delaney

From Booklist

Carter has written more than a dozen books since he left the White House; this vivid recollection of his Georgia childhood will probably be one of his most popular efforts. There are facts here--about the economics of farming during the Depression, the structure of sharecropping, and Georgia politics, for example--but the focus of Carter's narrative is the people who nurtured him on the farm and in Plains. Despite segregation, these people included African American neighbors as well as his own family, and Carter supplies lively portraits of many of the adults and children, black and white, who impressed him when he was little. Using a conversational tone, Carter wanders through the past, commenting on the weather and crop prices, local geography, chores and illnesses, adjusting to school, and learning to hunt and fish. Carter remains more popular as an ex-president than he was during his term of office, and his experiences are just different enough from those of most readers that his memoir should have broad appeal. Mary Carroll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 6971 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; New edition edition (June 29, 2001)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000SJYOL4
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #236,956 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
113 of 119 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars History Comes to Life January 9, 2001
By A Customer
I never really knew the president until I read the book. It provided insight and valuable understanding into the development of his ideals and lifelong commitment to community. Every night as I tucked my three darling sons into bed, we would cast aside Harry Potter for Hour Before Daylight. What a wonderful way to share our history with the family.
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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Jimmy Who? March 8, 2003
Had this engaging and conversational journey through President Carter's early days in Archer, Georgia been published prior to his '76 campaign, Americans would have understood better the thinking of the man they were to elect that year. Was his earnestness and honesty so surprising? This narrative strolls the reader through the gritty, but innocent, formative years of one of our country's most respected leaders.
A personal tribute to a place and the people that this man loves the most, the reader will find themselves enveloped in the minutiae of neighborhood scuttlebutt, hog slaughtering, Depression era agricultural economics, and of the (then) easy bigotry of the Deep South. The author lauds the passing of evils of the time and examines his own anxieties about the future of his family's generational farming heritage.
As a Georgian and as an American, I was delighted and entertained by President Carter's honesty and humor once again. Entertaining for all ages and a great introduction to rural life for young people. A fun & easy weekend read!
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61 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book! January 18, 2001
I couldn't put it down...What a remarkable life Jimmy Carter has led, and what rough times people had during the Depression. I really enjoyed other books by Jimmy Carter, but I think this one is my favorite. I'm very glad he became President of the U.S....he is a man of character.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
"An Hour Before Daylight" is a fascinating view into the upbringing of one of America's most unlikely Presidents. Growing up in the rural south (is that an oxymoron for the 1930's south?) is about as far
removed from the beltway as anyplace I can imagine.
Carter presents to the reader that the values that he took to the presidency he acquired while growing up in a farm in central Georgia - mainly: hard work, personal responsibility, and an appreciation of diversity.
Yet, while the story itself is intriguing, the presentation is somewhat lacking. The book is repetative and the dialog is somewhat stilted. Carter makes the same points over and over and retells some of the same stories. One has the sense that Uncle Carter is telling us youngin's how it really was in them olden days while at the same time obviously pining for a time when the world seemed simpler.
Overall,. the tone of this book reminded me a lot of John Grisham's "A Painted House," a novel that I highly recommend.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Incredible Journey February 8, 2001
By Misha
This book is one of the best you'll read this year, guaranteed. It's a glimpse into the former President's youth, a life which was never easy, but never one that was complained about. Rather than writing a diatribe railing against growing up without having been born with the silver spoon found in so many of the other Presidents' mouths, Mr. Carter explores and celebrates the small trials he faced and which, eventually, molded him into the man who became President. "Angela's Ashes" as written from Georgia? Why not?
This book makes an outstanding gift, if only to yourself!
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This is what a memoir is . . . July 6, 2001
I can't help wonder what some of the descendents of sharecroppers would think about Mr. Carter's book. It is evident that Mr. Carter is a decent and sincere man, embarrassed by the treatment of the black and less fortunate community in his time. His family was perhaps more caring and conscientious in their treatment of their sharecroppers than other families, but the system to keep the sharecroppers "in their place" was evidently firmly ensconced in their society. It would be interesting to look at the story from the sharecropper's perspective.
But the book is not intended to be from the sharecropper's perspective, and I am impressed by the candor and openness of our former President. I do not think the audio version is necessary to "hear" the story. The descriptions and tales of life in rural Georgia are portrayed with a remarkable reality. I could see it, feel it, and taste it-but that might have something to do with my memories as a child on a farm in southeastern Georgia.
Although the descriptions are fascinating and the stories are interesting, I rate Mr. Carter's memoir with a 3. The descriptive style is sometimes tedious and boring, and the stories are from a limited perspective. While Mr. Carter honestly acknowledges his own humanity and is open about personal failings, the tone frequently is pious and condescending. Perhaps that is what a memoir is...and is the reason I prefer biographies to autobiographies.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, quick read but tedious in spots October 24, 2007
I've been wanting to read one or more of President Carter's books for a long time and decided to begin with this one. While I agree that it is well-executed in the main, it doesn't score higher with me on a few grounds.

One: I felt there was a need for more fastidious editing. The book was by no means too long, but there was repetition and disordered content.

Two: Way too much detail in some of the more mundane and unpleasant sections, in particular discussions of minutiae of small-town agribusiness dealings as well as graphic detail of livestock issues including slaughtering and castrating. TMI.

Three: This is a half-hearted complaint, for I realize this isn't the book where these matters would likely be discussed considering the author has several other memoirs addressing other periods of his life (doesn't he?) In any case, I felt like the President did not discuss enough how his upbringing resulted in his being the man he is today as far as race relations are concerned. Lots of discussion about the relatively tolerant household in which he was raised, but lots of apology at the same time about how racism was ubiquitous at the time and not really perceived by his family or by others as a wrong to be righted. I don't know, I guess I'm rambling here, but I would have liked to have read content along the lines of "and these boyhood experiences shaped my perceptions in such a way that I wanted to make a difference in my public service career" and also I woulda liked to have read about how he connects his religious beliefs with his liberal leanings. Flesh out that relationship a bit more.

Just my 2 cents.

In any event, the book was a quick read and I am very glad I got around to reading it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Fairly interesting.
Published 27 days ago by Janet Finley
5.0 out of 5 stars All American boy who became President
A personal look at the boyhood years of President Carter that also depicts everyday life in the deep south in the 20th century. Read more
Published 1 month ago by R. Martineau
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book, witness of an era long gone now
A good book, witness of an era long gone now.
Some insides and frankness on Jimny Carter up-raising and his sharp observations on many topics make this book very... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Jeffersonian
4.0 out of 5 stars Rural America
As I read "An Hour Before Daylight", I felt like I was a witness into rural America at the beginning of the 20th Century. Read more
Published 7 months ago by JMack
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting to know Jimmy
Jimmy Carter is on my list of favorite authors and didn't disappoint me with this book. His descriptive wording of his life as a child in the south during the depression years is,... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Nancy Cee
2.0 out of 5 stars You can't judge a book by its cover
I thought I would like it. I didn't. It is just a rambling tale about a mostly pre-teen and what he did from day to day. Boring.
Published 8 months ago by Ward W. Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars simply beautiful
What a beautiful story of President Jimmy Carter's early life and growing up in the South. Told with grace, honor, humor and honesty. I absolutely loved it!
Published 8 months ago by Gracious
4.0 out of 5 stars More than just Jimmy Carter's story
Fascinating look into that time and place in U.S. history,as well as an interesting coming of age story.
Published 9 months ago by phyllis mejica
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good books, I enjoyed them
Published 9 months ago by MAGDALENE HILD
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
The style here is relaxed and approachable. Those looking for a more academic approach may be disappointed; it is a light memoir and I recommend it.
Published 9 months ago by 3
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More About the Author

Jimmy Carter was born in Plains, Georgia, and served as thirty-ninth President of the United States. He and his wife, Rosalynn, founded The Carter Center, a nonprofit organization that prevents and resolves conflicts, enhances freedom and democracy, and improves health around the world. He is the author of numerous books, including Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, An Hour Before Daylight and Our Endangered Values. He received a "Best Spoken Word" Grammy Award for his recording of Our Endangered Values. All of President Carter's proceeds from this series will go to the Maranatha Baptist Church of Plains, Georgia.

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