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Jimmy Carter: A Comprehensive Biography from Plains to Post-Presidency Hardcover – February 28, 1997

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1st edition (February 28, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684195437
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684195438
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.7 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #223,527 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

A perfect amount of time has elapsed for beginning a proper historical understanding of Jimmy Carter--enough to allow the emotions of witnesses and participants to cool, but not enough to overly dim their recall. And this book is a solid effort in that direction. Bourne, a psychiatrist, had known Carter for years before his presidency and followed him to the White House. (Which he left after getting caught prescribing drugs under a false name for one of his staffers.) This book is full-scale: it starts with Carter ancestors in 1635 and proceeds to describe in some detail the hard times characteristic of a place like Sumter County, Georgia. In Bourne's view, Carter's meteoric rise is best understood as the successive mastery of the narrow cultures of local, state, and national politics by a proud, intelligent man who had seen and understood the wider world (at the Naval Academy and then in nuclear submarines) before coming back to take over the family farm after his father's death. How meteoric? Well, Bourne tells us, Carter was elected President less than four years after stumping the panel on What's My Line?.

From Library Journal

The author of Fidel and a friend and former White House associate of Carter offers another biography of our 39th president.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Thomas A. Wheeler on December 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Over the last several years I've read more than 35 presidential biographies, usually taking the advice of Amazon readers who have steered me toward the best available choices. While not among the very best of biographies, Bourne's effort is near or in the top ten presidential biographies.

Jimmy Carter is probably the most intelligent president of my lifetime, an extremely hard worker, ambitious, very religious and thoughtful about his religion but also willing to compromise his principles to get ahead. He is also stubborn and not willing to be shown up. He has usually viewed himself as an outsider, and while this helped convince Americans to elect him president, it did not prepare him to work well with Washington politicians and insiders to achieve many of his goals.

Along with describing Carter's life prior to the presidency, the first half is fascinating for its description of race and politics in the South during the 60's and 70's, laying out an outline of how to win the presidency through a grass roots campaign, the suspicion that Carters religious beliefs caused, and as a reminder of issues that campaigns focused on in the 70's (election ethics, environmental issues, education reform, national health insurance, and other populist sorts of themes) - the four year campaign for president is told in detail (150 pages), and in ways it seems overly long, but this is perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Carter's life. The strategy and effort to elect an unknown governor to be president is pretty fascinating stuff.

I started to fear Bourne would run out of energy and pages to provide much detail about Carter's presidency. I was wrong.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Steve Fast on November 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bourne shows how the the Carter family values and the values of the South shaped Jimmy and the impact that these values had on his presidency. His father's frugality and work ethic are manifest throughout Carter's life, while his mother's racial tolerance and kindness are as well. But his blind devotion to principle and weak managerial skills hindered relations with Washington power brokers and ultimately damaged his presidency.

Some of the most interesting reading is how Carter won the White House, coming from a complete unknown and total outsider to become the most powerful man in the world. And Bourne does an excellent job describing the election campaign. A surprising subtheme of the book is how some of the elements of the Reagan revolution were foreshadowed in Carter's policies, such as the emphasis on a strong defense and confronting the Soviets.

One weakness of the book is the author's hatred of the Reagan administration. He can hardly mention Reagan's name without calling him racist, a charge that is baseless as far as I know. He also assumes that the charges that Reagan interfered in the Iran hostage release in order to win the election are true without discussing the evidence. As far as I know, the evidence for this is controversial at best. Finally, the discussion of his administration could have been better organized--I could not determine if it was chronological or thematic.

The book reveals the complexity of Carter. Although he participated in Southern Baptist Home Mission Board outreach programs, he was either pro-choice or pro-abortion. Although he did more for blacks as governor of Georgia than any previous governor, he was also a supporter of the arch-segregationist George Wallace.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Sam on September 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I walked through the isles of my public library looking for something to read. There was a large book with the words ' JIMMY CARTER' written on it that was sticking out of a shelf. I picked it up and decided to read it. This has been one of the best choices for reading I have ever made. Jimmy Carter is an extrodinary man, who's life is a lot more detailed and complex than I would have thought. This biography traces his life from birth, through the Navy, State Senatorial duties, Governorship and his Presidency. Jimmy Carter is shown as the admirable and honest man that he is. A real role model for all, Jimmy Carter is amazing, and so is this book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By William E. Bishop on February 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Peter Bourne, a somewhat unknown member of the Carter White House, has written a relatively balanced biography of our 39th President. He admits his flaws (extreme stubborness and lack of political saavy), while stressing the religious values by which he tried to steer the country. His "spokes of a wheel" idea for running the executive branch, opposed by just about everyone who knew anything about the way the White House should be run, is an example of his flaws. His loyalty to the Middle East Peace process is an example of his values taking precedence over domestic political concerns.
Bourne, occasionally wears Carter "blinders" (as when he excuses the president's lack of knowledge of his brother's dealings with Libyan oil interests or when he attributes the failure of the hostage rescue mission solely to "bad luck and military ineptitude"), yet, on the whole, this is a worthwhile effort at detailing the man without the myth.
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More About the Author

Dr Peter G. Bourne is a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at Green Templeton College, University of Oxford, Vice Chancellor Emeritus of St. George's University, Grenada, West Indies, and chairman of the board Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba (MEDICC). He was born in Oxford, England and educated there at the Dragon School. He received his MD from Emory University in Atlanta and an MA in anthropology from Stanford. He was a captain in the US Army assigned to the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR). He spent a year in Viet Nam where he was awarded the Bronze Star, Air Medal and Combat Medics Badge. His studies on the psychological and physiological aspects of stress described in his books, Men, Stress and Viet Nam (Little Brown) and Psychology and Physiology of Stress (Academic Press)are considered classics in the field of psycho-endocrinology.

Early in his career he was a member of the faculty of Emory University Medical School as an assistant professor of psychiatry and of preventive medicine and community health. In that capacity, as well as teaching, he directed a program to rehabilitate arrested alcoholics in the city jail and subsequently founded and directed the first community mental health center in the State of Georgia. In 1971 he was appointed director of the Georgia Narcotics Treatment Program, an agency providing statewide drug abuse treatment services. He worked for then Governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter and was instrumental in convincing him to run for president of the US. He was a deputy campaign director for Carter's successful 1976 race.

As Special Assistant to the President for Health Issues in the Carter White House he led the fight to get the administration's national health insurance plan through the Congress. He simultaneously held the job of director of the Office of Drug Abuse Policy (ODAP) the position generally referred to as the "drug czar" where he was responsible for coordinating the law enforcment, treatment, and foreign policy aspects of of America's drug policy. He also established for President Carter national commissions on World Hunger and Malnutrition and on mental health. He served as an official emissary of the presidentin negotiations with heads of state or government of several nations and represented the US government on the governing bodies of several UN agencies, including UNDP, WHO, UNICEF, and the UN Cmmission on Narcotic Drugs.

As an Assistant Secretary General at the United Nations he established and ran the "International Drinking Water and Sanitation Decade" (1980-1990) that in ten years rpovided clean drinking water to 500 million people worldwide. In that capacity he launched the global campaign to eradicate dracunculiasis, caused by guinea worm: a program now near to reaching total success. After leaving the UN for the rpvate sector he was partner in Tropica Development Ltd. a company devoted to the creation of business enterprises to improve health and economic development in Third World countries, especially in Africa. He served also as a consultant to and on the boards of several non-profit organizations including, Save the Children, Health and Development International, Global Water, and the American Association for World Health. He has visited more than fifty countries in a professional capacity.

Dr Bourne used his wide network of international contacts to help then-Congressman Bill Richardson to secure the release of prisoners being held in Iraq, Cuba, Bangladesh and other countries.

In 1995 he directed a year-long, foundation-supported study of the impact of the US embargo on Cuba resulting in a report "Denial of Food and Medicine: The Impact of the US Embargo on Cuba". He now chairs Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba (MEDICC) an organization that in the last five years has sent over fifteen hundred USA medical studnets and public health students to Cuba for electives as part of their academic program. The organization also publishes MEDICC Review, the only English language, peer-reviewed journal on Cuban medicine and health care.

As Vice Chancellor of St. George's University, where he had previously been chairman of the psychiatry department, he established a school of veterinary medicine, created a program in public health (giving and MPH), started a multi-disciplinary Institute for Caribbean and International Affairs and created, in collaboration with the University of Plymouth in the UK, a new marine biology program. He expanded the existing medical school and increased its efforts to recruit from developing countries as well as enlarging the college of Arts and Sciences to try to meet the Caribbean educational needs. During his tenure there were students from 80 countries. He also established on campus the Shell Cricket Academy a key training facility for the future of West Indian cricket.

He currently divides his time between Washington, D.C., Green Templeton College at Oxford University and his farm in Wales where he has 75 llamas and a half dozen bison.

He is married to Dr Mary E. King, professor of Peace and Conflict studies of the University for Peace, and a fellow of the Rothermere American Institute and of Mansfield Collgee at the University of Oxford.

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