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Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis Paperback – Bargain Price, September 26, 2006

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Editorial Reviews Review

Even at his most irate, Jimmy Carter projects cool, communicating with a poise that commands attention while gently signaling to opponents that they better do their homework before mounting any sort of debate. Perhaps that's why the former president, Nobel Peace Prize-winner, and bestselling author ranks as one of the planet's most respected voices in the areas of human rights, diplomacy, and good government. And when a clearly agitated Carter suggests America is on a slippery slope, globally speaking, as he does throughout Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis, it's wise to pay heed even if the book's overriding Christian perspective may trip cautionary bells in secular readers.

More a set of loosely connected essays than a single, precise argument, Our Endangered Values outlines Carter's worldview while pondering what he posits are key problems looming in the 21st century. Thematic touchstones such as the war, environmental negligence, civil liberties, the rich-poor divide, and the separation of church and state form the book's backbone, with Carter filtering each through the prism of his own vast experience. He doesn't much like what he sees. Though much of the data Carter presents to support his arguments is familiar, it's worth repeating that "the rate of firearm homicides in the United States is nineteen times higher than that of 35 other high-income countries combined." That "In addition to imprisonment, the United States of America stands almost alone in the world in our fascination with the death penalty, and our few remaining companions are regimes with a lack of respect for basic human rights." That when it comes to sharing the wealth with poor nations "Americans are the stingiest of all industrialized nations. We allow about one-thirtieth as much as is commonly believed [or] sixteen cents out of each $100 of the gross national income." America: land of the free, home of the brave? Try global bully with a bad attitude and reckless sense of entitlement.

Carter spends significant time contextualizing his own spirituality, as if to underscore the urgency of his message that fundamentalism in any form is bad, especially when it encroaches on government. Indeed, Carter persuasively links fundamentalism to harmful policy, the subjugation of women, general xenophobia, and a host of other ills occurring all around him. And while George W. Bush in particular and the current administration in general take fewer clips on the chin than might be expected, Carter's arguments for common-sense change are deeply resonant nonetheless. --Kim Hughes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

After several books on spirituality and homespun values (most recently Sharing Good Times), President Carter turns his attention to the political arena. He is gravely concerned by recent trends in conservatism, many of which, he argues, stem from the religious right's openly political agenda. Criticizing Christian fundamentalists for their "rigidity, domination and exclusion," he suggests that their open hostility toward a range of sinners (including homosexuals and the federal judiciary) runs counter to America's legacy of democratic freedom. Carter speaks eloquently of how his own faith has shaped his moral vision and of how he has struggled to reconcile his own values with the Southern Baptist church's transformation under increasingly conservative leadership. He also makes resonant connections between religion and political activism, as when he points out that the Lord's Prayer is a call for "an end to political and economic injustice within worldly regimes." Too much of the book, however, is a scattershot catalogue of standard liberal gripes against the current administration. Throwing in everything from human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib to global warming, Carter spreads himself too thin over talking points that have already been covered extensively.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Trade Paperback Edition edition (September 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1615547495
  • ISBN-13: 978-1615547494
  • ASIN: B001F7ATTY
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.6 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (309 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,175,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

81 of 88 people found the following review helpful By C. Garrett Goebel on November 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In reading the book, I was reminded of the saying that people don't remember what you said. They remember how you made them feel. In this Carter succeeds. That said, don't pick up a copy of the book expecting to find well reasoned positions backed with unambigous references to reliable data and statistics.

In "Our Endangered Values", Carter describes a set of American values: equality, liberty, justice for all, individual empowerment, inclusion, generosity, forgiveness, and leadership by example. This is framed by a narrative which is personal and focused on people finding common ground on which to build a better tomorrow.

These values are then contrasted against what is described as a general trend toward fundamentalism. The fundamentalism Carter argues against is not the adherance to a literal interpretation of secular texts, but the practice of intolerance regarding people of differing beliefs.

Intolerance, he argues, becomes particularly dangerous where people choose to recognize their leaders and institutions as masters rather than servants. Such leaders and their institutions tend to combine their beliefs and intolerance into agendas which exclude, dehumanize and punish.

From there, it is just a hop, a skip, and a jump to a laundry list of ways in which the actions of recent administrations and highly visible religious leaders are tipping the balance toward fundamentalism and endangering the values he holds dear.

In summary, it is well worth reading, and is relatively light reading at that. Some reviewers have come down fairly harshly on the book for religious and/or political grounds. I think they miss the point. Carter isn't mandating that you subscribe to his beliefs. He is asking you to look for common ground and tolerate the differences.
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70 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Eldred H. Paufve on December 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I have found this to be a most honest and direct evaluation of the current national situation. It is an easy book to read and demonstrates the unusual honesty of Jimmy Carter as a past president and current world humanitarian. His evaluation of the current administration's shortcomings and intrigue in its selling of the Iraq war to the American public and Congress is most interesting and enlightening. He substantiates his concern for the other detrimental actions of the present administartion throudh his own religeous beliefs and gives an explanation of his separation from the Southern Baptist Convention.
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83 of 95 people found the following review helpful By T. Thomas on November 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
As a moderate in this country, I have always felt uneasy with the current adminstration agenda. President Carter, who I feel is very genuine in this book, has detailed what is deeply wrong with the right wing of the Republican party. They have seemed to have "highjacked" patriotism to a level I have not seen in this country. The notion of "Either you're with us or against us" proves that fundamentalists have no direct business in government. The reason I gave the book 4 stars, is because Carter did not explain in great detail how we can peacefully combat the likes of the Dobsons, Robertsons, and the Farwells. Furthermore, this book was very uplifting, and once again proves to me that Christians are a group of people who help the poor, nonvoilent peace loving personas, something the Bush adminstration has forgotten.
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45 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Megan Romer on December 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Jimmy Carter is, in my book, one of the finest human beings on the face of this planet. He's devoutly Christian and he walks the walk, unlike many of the televangelists who've grown to hold political power today. He builds houses for the homeless, visits war-torn countries on his own dime and at terrible risk to his own life, and he'll continue to do these things until he dies, because being Christlike is his goal in life. He's just that kind of man. And for this, you must respect him, and take it very seriously that he thinks far-right Christian fundamentalism is problematic.

For a Christian who is as faithful and devout as Carter to denounce people like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson (two men who do not, by the way, build houses for the homeless or visit devastated regions of the world) for controlling and brainwashing millions of Americans is a very big deal. We need to be paying attention.

For Carter, whose faith is basically the reason he gets out of bed every morning, to say that we are skirting a dangerously slippery slope when it comes to the separation of church and state is a BIG DEAL. We NEED to be paying attention.

Don't be afraid of this book if you're not a Christian, and don't be afraid of it if you are. Carter carefully separates his faith from yours, and maintains that faith and religion is a private and personal choice, and he NEVER proselytizes or gets preachy. What he does do, though, is make very clear that the Christian right is not right, nor do they speak for all devout Christians in this country. He simply wants to see us get on the right track again. A wonderful book.
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63 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Palen on December 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
From one who has been there and who sees things with eyes of a follower of Christ, here is the best account I have seen of the slide America is in away from our position of once proud nation, moral leader of the world, and protector of the disadvantaged. He places this slide not so much on inept leadership (and no president is perfect) but on a conscious, calculated move toward more advantages for the very rich. The numbers tell the story and he supplies enough of them to make this a very scary work of non-fiction. Of course, being a Christian, he gives a ray of hope at the end. But no quick fixes.

In general, I think it is well-written and much more readable than some of his earlier books. The problem is stated, the gauntlet thrown down. Maybe it is for the next generation to take up the challenge.
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