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Beyond the White House - Waging Peace, Fighting Disease, Building Hope Paperback – 2007
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"Beyond the White House" ultimately serves as a sort of survey level introduction to what Jimmy Carter has been doing since 1981, and ultimately it screams out for more details. No doubt there are books about every facet of his life to come, but this is a nice introduction for those too young to remember him as President or his early years of attempting to redeem himself. By turns inspirational and challenging, "Beyond the White House" is a great read for anyone who wants to do more with their lives or who wants to better understand what motivates and drives Jimmy Carter.
Most people already know about Jimmy Carter's humanitarian works and his efforts to improve the world around him. But some may not be aware of the actual events that have transpired while working toward these goals. Carter explains some of them in detail, and in some instances, he takes the details a bit too far. This is especially true in the book's opening chapters when Carter is discussing his meetings with government leaders of different countries. When I started to read this part of the book, I was expecting something written in a manner similar to a personal memoir. Instead, these opening chapters read like a play- by- play excerpt from a diary. I was expecting a quick overview of the meetings and what was achieved, but Carter felt the need to give the rundown on what happened each day and at different times throughout the day. A quick summary would have been sufficient.
In the second half of the book, however, Carter settles down and starts to talk about some of his important humanitarian achievements. I particularly liked the chapter on fighting disease. I was fully aware of Carter's work with Habitat for Humanity and I knew that he and his wife Rosalynn Carter were active in working toward a disease- free world. But I did not know exactly what diseases were high on their list and what level of success they had achieved. This chapter explains it all, and it includes some graphic photographs of individuals inflicted with certain preventable diseases. Carter explains in this chapter how he and his associates at the Carter Center have worked with the native people of different African nations and have helped them eliminate many diseases simply by encouraging cleanliness and by advocating filtering water before drinking.
The chapter titled "Building Hope" is another good chapter because it includes some of Carter's work on human rights. I would have preferred that this chapter be a little longer, but it still gets the point across. Carter is very concerned about political freedom and he has worked long and hard to spread democracy and basic human rights around the world. I also liked that he included a section on his work in his home state of Georgia; specifically, in the city of Atlanta, to improve living conditions among the city's poor.
Beyond the White House isn't a political book in the usual sense. Carter voices a few concerns about the human rights violations that have taken place under George W. Bush's watch and he points out the positive working relationship he has enjoyed with Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, and others. But other than that, he steers clear of political criticisms and differences in this book. He wanted this to be a book about the accomplishments of the Carter Center and he wanted to inspire everyone to work toward change for the betterment of humans around the world. For the most part, this book generally succeeds in these endeavors.
Overall, Beyond the White House is a good book about Jimmy Carter's work as an ex- president and it details the many accomplishments of the Carter Center in its efforts to spread democracy, eliminate disease, and encouraging improvements in human rights. The first part of the book is a little more detailed than it needed to be, and some of the other chapters could use a little more length. But the book is still good overall and it presents a nice summary of what a person can achieve to improve the world around them. Carter had his share of difficulties as president, but his days since leaving the White House have been filled with achievement, and his life is a good example of the good that people can do in the later stages of their lives.