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

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  1,233 ratings  ·  136 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...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published June 29th 2001 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 2001)
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Zack
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
Dora
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...more
Anna Hardin
Don't let politics keep you from reading this memoir. Excellent!
Maggie
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...more
Sandra
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!
O...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
Heila
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
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
Todd
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.
Aflack
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...more
Laurie
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
Kelley
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.
Kris
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...more
Bea
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,
Sonya
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
Raymond
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
Zachary
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
ariasmommy
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
JennLynn
A wonderful read about Jimmy Carter's boyhood in rural Georgia. It was so fascinating to read about the trials - and joys - of his simple life, as well as the interesting dynamics between the two races in the region.
Nolen
Interesting study of a Southern boyhood. Although 22 years my senior there were several similar experiences with my own especially some of the stories concerning his Dad. Together they worked outdoors, hunted and went lots of places together. I can easily identify with the "simplier times" which younger generations will probably never know. Several of the family personalities are developed very well. The inconsistencies between close inter-racial relationships while still maintaining the segrega...more
Margie
I like Jimmy Carter's writing, regardless of whether I agree with all of his politics. Definitely an interesting look at the South during desegregation and the Depression.
Ken
This book is a fascinating look at growing up in depression-era Georgia. Time and again the author dispels this reader’s preconceptions of living conditions, race relations, and rural life in general. Told in a breezy, chatty format (a little confusing at times, since it’s not strictly chronological), this book is a terrific read, with choice anecdotes spread throughout.

If you’re a suburban guy like me, this book is almost a document of life on another planet. If you’re a Republican partisan, th...more
Carrie
Since moving to Georgia automatically makes Jimmy Carter my adopted grandpa, I thought I should read about him a little. I enjoyed the book for that, but it was most interesting reading about what life was actually like in the first part of the 1900s in Georgia. It wasn't that long ago- people from this book are still alive and all- but it was still amazingly rudimentary. Churning butter, hand-plowing fields, wearing clothes made from flour sacks...I think a few months on Jimmy's family's farm w...more
Cara
We're taking the kids to Plains in October, so we thought we'd do this as a read-aloud at bedtime. It's quite a memoir. We made it about 2/3 of the way through the book, covering most/all of Jimmy's childhood. We had lots of interesting conversations about sharecropping, race relations and other such things. Let's just say it is NOT a kids' book though.... I had to skim/skip some parts about the locals' taste in prostitutes etc... who knew Jimmy would include the seedier side of life? We decided...more
Michelle
This just happened to be on my bookshelf (my deceased Republican grandmother loved Jimmy Carter - go figure), and I picked it up during a lull in reading. It's interesting reading about growing up on a farm in rural Georgia in the 1920s and 1930s - daily life, community attitudes, race relations, etc. The book, though is repetitive, and one can get a little tired reading about how wonderful Carter's upbringing was and just how loved he was by everyone in town. However, it's an easy read and good...more
Emma
Interesting book by my favorite ex president.
Kylene Jones
What I discovered about this book is it has less about politics and more about the time and place he grew up. I found it quite interesting to read a young boys take on the black-white relationships in the south when he was a boy. It was quite interesting to see how and why he became the man he did, whether or not you agree with him and his actions. Overall, this was a very good book and I really enjoyed it. So many times, I forgot that I was reading about a future president of our country. He ha...more
Frederick Bingham
Jimmy Carter's memoir of his childhood. The book talks about what it was like to grow up in the rural south during the depression. After reading the book, it was mysterious how he met and courted Roslynn, and what in his personality got him to the Governor's mansion and the White House. In other words, we learned much about the rural south, sharecropping, the New Deal, etc., but we learned very little about Jimmy Carter himself. It would be interesting to compare this book about Carter to a simi...more
Boreal Elizabeth
a quick 5 hour read-very accessible writing style, folksy, conversational, illuminating of the rural childhood and how that formed his personality, race conditions was a secondary uniting thread, i definitely formed a more detailed opinion of his character from this account. i look forward to reading more of his memoirs as he doesn't explore later years other than in a passing way. the whole focus is on childhood and very early adulthood prior to the his governorship of georgia and presidency of...more
Traci Mcgivern
Excellent read, descriptive to the point that I firmly believe I could walk down main street in Plains Georgia & know exactly where everything is. I read this book slowly because even though it was snowy here, each chapter felt like a warm spring day under a shady tree, it was wonderful. While the book doesn't touch much about Jimmy Carter's political career, it gives in-depth background about the people, places & events that clearly shaped who he is as a person & was as a politician...more
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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 created two new cabinet-level departments: the Department of Energy and the Department of...more
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