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This slim biography portrays a president (1977-81) with more idealism than his predecessors but less luck and political skill. In a nation still reeling from Watergate, Carter's 1976 campaign stressing freedom from Washington politics propelled him to the presidency. Princeton history professor Zelizer (Arsenal of Democracy) regretfully points out that outsider status may win elections but exercising power requires traditional insider arm-twisting which Carter was slow to learn. His successes including the SALT II arms treaty, the Egyptian-Israeli Camp David peace accords, and a Social Security tax increase (denounced by conservatives but a lifesaver for the program). Zelizer feels Carter's hardest fought victory, passage of the Panama Canal treaty, damaged him by energizing his enemies without increasing his popularity because few Americans cared. They cared about inflation and unemployment, and Carter managed to anger both liberals and conservatives by rejecting both expensive social programs and massive tax cuts. Few blame him for Iran's revolution or the hostage-taking at the American embassy, but no presidential reputation could survive their long captivity or the bungled rescue attempt. And in this latest addition to the Am erican Presidents series, Zelizer concurs with other historians' lukewarm opinion of Carter but adds that many problems were beyond his control.
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This latest volume in the Holt series of compact biographies of American presidents is written by a Princeton professor of history. When politicians, pundits, and even historians speak of a failed presidency, the Carter administration is often cited. The term may be simplistic, even unfair, yet this engaging survey indicates that it is a resonably accurate description of Carter’s single term. Zelizer pays sufficient attention to Carter’s youth, his rise through Georgia politics, and his postpresidential efforts at international mediation. But the most engrossing portion of the work deals with Carter’s successes (there were some) and failures as president. He campaigned and won as a political outsider; unfortunately, he was unable to learn that he couldn’t govern as an outsider. He lacked the traditional ties to the core elements of the Democratic Party. When the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan eroded his support among independent voters, he lacked a hard-core base to rally behind him. For general readers, this work offers a fine analysis of the man and his career. --Jay FreemanSee all Editorial Reviews
Pretty good evaluation of Jimmy Carter's presidency. Its major failing is that it doesn't consider events outside the White House that impacted upon Carter's presidency.Published 2 months ago by Frank I.
THIS WAS GIVEN AS A GIFT. MY SON-IN-LAW REQUESTED THIS BOOK SO I'M SURE HE WAS HAPPY WITH IT AS HE READS ALL THE BOOKS ON PRESIDENTS.Published 8 months ago by JAY DUB
Halfway through this book, I was really disappointed by author Julian Zelizer's choice to focus on such in-depth material for this "lighter series. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Zachary Koenig
Good understanding of why he was not re-elected president for a second term. The guy who ran for president didn't show up in the oval office! Better campaign than presidency.Published 16 months ago by JPS
Often characterized as a failed President, this short volume offers a look back at Carter's domestic and international challenges. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Mark
The book was in good conditions and was received without problems. THe paper used for the pages seemed heavy and not easy to read.Published on January 2, 2013 by Marilyn
The words "outsider" and "maverick" come readily to mind in Julian Zelizer's short biography of the 39th United States president, Jimmy Carter. Carter (b. Read morePublished on June 27, 2012 by Robin Friedman