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Audio version is good Insight into the president
on January 5, 2011
I enjoy reading or listening to presidential memoirs regardless of the president's political party affiliation. This one was no different.
Narrated by both Jimmy Carter and a professional narrator, the two men take turns narrating this memoir. Carter is at times hard to understand as he tends to mumble and has a lisp, so the other narrator helps for better listening. Carter narrates shorter passages and tends to narrate the passages that are more reflective.
One learns that he disliked Begin and Helmut Schmidt of Germany, thought Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms were "nuts" and the extremists were "idiots" and he always battled the media, especially the Washington Post. He comes across as naive at times about the Middle East peace process, but in hindsight he was right one about the Department of Energy (which Reagan dissolved when he took office) and many environmental issues. His big theme in his presidency was human rights honesty and the environment, which some see as his biggest weakness at times. He did not play the political game and wanted the entire world to be honest and nice as himself.
By far the most interesting track is the last disc, which covers his post-presidential year. Spoken mostly by Carter, he admits the flaws that cost him a second term: he did not play White House games, he didn't have a sense of humor (evident also in his diary entries), he didn't (doesn't) take criticism well and tended to be a bit of an autocrat. Other world leaders such as Helmut Schmidt from Germany and Margaret Thatcher from England thought he was a goon. Sometimes in this audio version I also had the feeling Carter felt he was always right and that others simply had to see things his way. Politics doesn't always work that way.
Although these memoirs aren't too insightful and at times naive coming from a world leader, it's a nice audio about the Carter era and the beginnings of Islamic terrorism, Arab oil wars and White House protocol. It's a good addition for any presidential buff. He clearly loved his family and always added little snippets about his wife or children in his diary.