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An Hour Before Daylight: Memories Of A Rural Boyhood
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An Hour Before Daylight: Memories Of A Rural Boyhood

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  1,552 ratings  ·  174 reviews
In an American story of enduring importance, Jimmy Carter re-creates his Depression-era boyhood on a Georgia farm, before the civil rights movement that changed it and the country.
In what is sure to become a classic, the bestselling author of Living Faith and Sources of Strength writes about the powerful rhythms of countryside and community in a sharecropping economy. Al
ebook, 288 pages
Published June 29th 2001 by Simon & Schuster (first published 200)
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Jimmy Carter takes you on a trip to his hometown and describes in remarkable detail all facets of his life in rural Georgia during the Great Depression. His writing is easily accessible but not overly folksy: reading it, you sometimes forget he was the 39th President, but you never forget his eloquence and dignity. His tone is loving, and the book is pretty much a love-song to the vanishing (vanished?) rural South that raised him, warts and all. It's also fascinating to read what he has to say a ...more
What a privilege to step inside the childhood of one of the most extraordinary living Americans. This is easily in the top 5 books I've read in 2011.

(by the way: I feel like this book never got the press it deserved because it came out late 2001... oops).

I wasn't expecting to read this in 48 hours... and yet, I couldn't put it down. This book, a collection of memories from Carter's upbringing in rural Georgia during the depression, paints such a vivid picture of that time and place in America t
Jennifer Ochoa
This was my second read. Something about being pregnant makes me want to read about great men, and regardless of what you think about his time as POTUS, Carter is a great humanitarian and champion of equality. It's a simple, meandering memoir about his childhood. An easy read for when nausea kept me from reading more than a half page at a time. Lovely in its recollections of the people who influenced him, the charm and struggle of farm life, but honest in his portrayal of race relations in the S ...more
Alex Marshall
Jimmy Carter is our best writer of any of our living presidents, including Mr. Barack Obama. It's simply amazing how good Mr. Carter is as a writer. His prose is sparse, lean and simple. He shows, not tell. It's simple enough for a 10 year old, yet powerful enough for 100 year old. His portrait of his childhood and early adulthood in and around Plains is powerful. I was struck with how rich his life was, much more so than that of kids today. His life was immersed in farm, country, family, school ...more
Very interesting - I really had almost no idea about the childhood years of this particular past president of ours. His responsibilities and freedom as a boy (for example selling on main street boiled peanuts which he prepared himself at age 5) are things which are almost completely foreign to us in our present society. Super-interesting in terms of what he did later in life, to hear of his boyhood exploits. His relationships (or lack of) with his parents and siblings - and his other relationshi ...more
Anna Hardin
Don't let politics keep you from reading this memoir. Excellent!
This well written memoir is essentially a slice of Jimmy Carter's life until he leaves for Annapolis in his Sophmore year of college. He shows you what his day-to-day life was like on his farm in Archery (a town which no longer exists) and at home and in school in Plains, and also gives you the background for his ancestors and his knowledge of and memories of his grandparents and parents.

What I found most fascinating was Jimmy Carter's view into every day life on his farm in the South during th
The first election I remember was Jimmy Carter's. I was in 3rd grade, & I voted for him in a mock election at school. Ford received only one vote in our class, so Carter won by a landslide! Also that same year, I wrote a letter to President Carter & received a photo of his family standing in front of the White House. I can still see in my mind his signature stamped on the front & little Amy standing in the front row in a white sundress. I'd give anything if I still had that picture!
I was very pleasantly surprised by this book! Carter narrating the story both added to and subtracted from it. His narration made it better in the sense that its his story in his words and so hearing it with his voice just added to his characterization and made it easier to understand his early childhood. It detracted a bit because Carter is a pretty old guy and there were times I had to rewind what he said a couple times in order to understand what he was saying.
I particularly enjoyed his stor
Namedoris Powell
This book was fascinating. I really enjoyed it. Jimmy Carter was actually writing about a time "before my time." It was a time when my parents were growing up. I had never read a book about the time of the Depression, at least not a book that was devoted to that time period. It was a very difficult time for the people of that era, both black and white. Money was scarce, segregation was in play, and we don't appreciate what we have today. It is also amazing the progress that has been made in our ...more
Kathy Michael
This book reminds me of how my dad grew up on a farm and how everything was self-sufficient. My grandmother ran and managed a lot of family land and so my dad grew up fairly middle-classed for such a time.I think President Jimmy Carter is a most brilliant and down-to-earth man and I had the honor of listening to this book in audio book format. NO wonder he is still a very active man; he comes from work ethic stock. The section where he earned money by owning and managing rent-houses asa teenager ...more
The rural South in which Jimmy Carter grew up was a world increasingly unfamiliar to contemporary people. Carter's memoir will prove more and more valuable as time passes.
Marty Greenwell
Really liked this. Not a political book at all but a tale about the way a young boy grows up on the farm with work as the center. Reading this can explain how Jimmy Carter had the perseverance to become a successful businessman and later governor. Especially liked the sections where he related to his yound black friends and how they play together but were not allowed to be together in the outside world. No discussion of Roselyn and their dating. Kinda like Dandelion Wine in the rural South.
Roger Phillips
I was never a fan of Jimmy Carter as President. However I truly enjoyed this autobiography of his early life. It provided a lot of insight into life in the South in the first half of the twentieth century and reminded me of hints my parents and grandparents spoke of (guano sacks, aka "gunney sacks," clothing made from flour sacks, and "slop jars" - ewwwww!). It also tells of race relations in the years before the civil rights movement. I recommend this book highly.
I recall first hearing about Jimmy Carter in Atlanta, Georgia, when my then-husband was arguing with his cousin about the viability of this "peanut farmer," who was then then governor of Georgia, as a candidate for President. Little did I know then that I would become a Carter fan, nor would I fully understand what it was about that man that appealed to me, other than to say it had something to do with purity of heart. Listening to Carter read his own book about his childhood did two things. Fir ...more
I adore president Carter, so I when I happened to come across this book in the library, I decided to read it (finally-I had been wanting to read one of his books all along). As much as I was intrigued about his growing up, I found the book to be a little slow. I never completed reading the whole thing; however, I did manage to get a glimpse of president Carter's formative years that undoubtedly shaped him into the humanitarian he became.

President Carter talks about life in the south and how rac
This is the second book by Jimmy Carter that I've read. In this book, Carter takes us back to his childhood and the way things were growing up during the Depression in rural Georgia. We get to read about his family history and life on the farm for both whites and blacks. Not being from Carter's generation, there were some things I didn't realize about that time period. I had no idea that strep throat was once a life-threatening illness! I have to say, the idea of growing and eating your own food ...more
What a fantastic and refreshing read. So much detail here, so many memories and personal stories. I listened to this read by the author himself which I think made it all the better. Like listening to my grandpa.
Not only is this remarkable because it's Jimmy Carter but overall because it's such a vivid glimpse into the life of a child growing up in Georgia during this time period. Amazing history here. Quite enjoyed this.
Yes, this is a book about farming in Georgia during the Depression, and I really found it fascinating. You get a glimpse into the upbringing of a future president of the U.S., and which of his childhood experiences he felt helped to mold his life. Learning about his experience roaming the land as a very young child, made me wish for that same experience for my children, without the hook worms.
I'm really enjoying the portrait of rural South Georgia life and the simple beginnings of a modern President. In fact, he mentions 'presidential' things occasionally, but this is really about a small town boyhood, not about 'how to shape a man'.
I can't believe how hard these people worked and how little money/food/ etc people survived on. No wonder the closets in my house are small.
Years later, I finally picked this up again and finished it. I didn't know anything about Jimmy Carter's fami
Mark Robbins
Carter catalogs farming in rural Georgia during the period surrounding the great depression. You can hear his personal perspective in these accounts but since the book records his observations for the period prior to the author's political life there are no insights here from a president. I found it fascinating and recommend it to anyone interested in a narrative description of this time in the life of rural southern Georgia.
An interesting and highly detailed account of life growing up on a large farm in Georgia, with lots of chores and interaction with the land and farm animals and some colorful local characters, including family members. I prefer Sandra Day O'Connor's memoir of growing up on a Southwestern cattle ranch but this one has its merits and high points too.
Beth Neu
Engaging account of what it was like to grow up in the rural south in the 1920's. Written in a captivating way that draws the reader into his family's position in the community and their thoughts on faith, race and the human condition. Thank you for sharing your childhood story, Mr. President!
I am about the same age as Jimmy Carter, so his reminiscences of a rural life in the South were fun to compare and contrast with my memories of childhood in the Midwest. But,more than that, his honesty about himself and his family and his story of his growth in racial sensitivity were refreshing,
Stephen Brooke
Nothing very exciting happens in young Jimmy Carter’s life yet this memoir is as interesting as any you might read. This is largely thanks to being very well written, with a clear and insightful voice.

It is a tale of growing up in depression-era rural Georgia and not so much the story of Carter himself as it is of a time and place and the people who inhabited them. Whether or not one cares about the trivia of Jimmy Carter’s upbringing, it is a most interesting look at that world. It would not re
During the '07-08 Presidential campaign, I became obsessed with Presidential history. I saw the bio-documentary on Carter--Jonathan Demme's MAN FROM PLAINS--and then began reading books by and about Carter. This one is lovely--a spare, quiet account of his childhood in Plains, GA. You learn so much about him--the man he is, the way he approached governing, why he may have failed as a politician and returned to Plains exactly the same person he was when he left. You get a deep sense of life on an ...more
This is a most engaging book - autobiography, re-creation of boyhood and coming of age - in rural Georgia of the late 1920s, on into the 1930s. This was still the segregated South, the South of the KKK. Fully 30 years before the civil rights movement burst forth. Hence the title, an hour before daylight. The Carters - the President, his mother, his father, his sisters - are fascinating, enlightened people. Jimmy Carter's farm friends were mostly black children and Jimmy thought almost nothing of ...more
I picked up this book at my in-laws mountain cabin two weeks ago. I enjoyed President Carter's writing style in contrast to the other presidential writings I've read recently. I've been working my way through numerous presidential biographies most of which, though thorough, were anything but personal. Pres. Carter meanders his way through his boyhood, adolesence, and young adulthood in and around Plains, GA. Many parts of it remind me of my own experiences as a boy growing up in the south. Howev ...more
Sue Raether
I couldn't finish this book. Although it's a lovely memoir of life in Depression Era, Carter's attention to detail was too precise. I appreciated that he valued his rich childhood experiences, and his boyhood shaped him to be the man he became.
Reading this book made me think of Wendell Berry's theme of "place". Jimmy Carter's love of the Plains, Georgia area, where he still lives, is very evident. He describes in detail his farm life and many other events and people from his childhood, and the incongruous nature of race relations at the time (for example, he played all the time with his black friend on the farm, but they could not sit together at the movie theater). It was quite amazing to read of all the work that he was expected to ...more
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Librarian’s note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. was the thirty-ninth President of the United States, serving from 1977 to 1981, and the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize. Prior to becoming president, Carter served two terms in the Georgia Senate and as the 76th Governor of Georgia, from 1971 to 1975.

As president, Carter
More about Jimmy Carter...

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