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White House Diary

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  654 ratings  ·  92 reviews
Here is the edited, annotated diary of President Jimmy Carter - filled with insights into his presidency, his relationships with friends and foes, and his lasting impact on issues that still preoccupy America and the world.

Each day during his presidency, Jimmy Carter made several entries in a private diary, recording his thoughts, impressions, delights, and frustrations.
Hardcover, 570 pages
Published September 20th 2010 by Farrar Straus Giroux
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Average rating 3.79  · 
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Jeffrey Keeten
Jun 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
”A scholarly assessment after I left office showed that I had the most unfavorable press coverage of the century; with a net of negative news stories every month except for my first one, after my family and I walked down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. Despite frequent news conferences and a concerted effort to meet privately in the White House with all the key reporters and media executives, I was never able to turn them around. We finally decided to accept the situation and plow ahead ...more
Jun 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Since I was only a small kid when Jimmy Carter was president, I found the book very interesting. You're basically reading his daily diary, so you have his personal insights on Congress, particular lawmakers (he and Teddy Kennedy did not get along at all) and issues, like the Panama Canal Treaty and Iranian Hostage Crisis. While he was an evangelical Christian, he was careful to separate religion from politics, and he worked as closely with Republicans as he did Democrats...a skill that has ...more
Feb 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
A sensational view at four very interesting in US politics. I was born in the exact middle of the Carter time in the White House and while many of the events are but footnotes in the history books for me, Carter's White House Diaries bring the events to lifer again. I leave, having read this book, with a much greater understanding of January 20, 1977-January 20, 1981 and the events that helped build and destroy Carter's political pinnacle.

I was pleasantly surprised that this book took names ansd
Bruce Thomas
Nov 10, 2016 rated it liked it
This diary pretty much puts on display the reasons for Carter being a one-term president. The first 2-1/2 years, the entries are probably 95% related to foreign affairs. Then, when it's too late, there are some, but still not many, entries regarding the horrendous inflation, unemployment and interest rates. And even with his emphasis on foreign affairs, he still botches the Iran situation by allowing the Shah to come to the US for medical treatment, triggering the hostage crisis. He proves to be ...more
Jul 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating. One of the most interesting books I've ever read. I've also read autobiographies of most recent presidents (bush, clinton, reagan, nixon).

Absolutely fascinating to compare what each writes about. Regan writes mostly about who he's meeting for political benefit. Nixon writes almost exclusively about foreign policy. Yet Carter's writing (and the actions he documents) seem to have been almost entirely on a sustainable, responsible path for America and the planet. He was very diligent
Sheila rood
Nov 03, 2010 rated it liked it
Was interesting for me to go back and read about events that I was too busy to care about. Between having babies and starting a dairy farm there wasn't much time or energy to even read a newspaper.

Not much has changed in 30 years. We still have a mid East disagreement between Israel and the PLO, energy crisis,terrorism, and general discord in government. Actually things have gone down hill since the 70's.

Good history lesson.
Dec 07, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
I listened to this as an audio book. President Carter's latest book, White House Diary, is a look into the daily operations of the White House and his Presidential Management Style. Carter simply presents his daily diary entries, no edits, no deletions. For many entries he includes updates and historic perspective. The original entries are read by a narrator with a generic American accent. The updates and commentary are read by President Carter himself; these notes are where Carter ties in ...more
Nov 03, 2013 rated it liked it
On page 342, Carter writes . . ."it's not easy for me to accept criticism, and to reassess my way of doing things, to admit my mistakes." This insight came to him on July 9, 1979, which may have been the problem with his Presidency, and is certainly the problem with this book. There are very few occasions (before the Afterword) where Carter looks at the positions he is taking at the time and reconsiders them in the light of later events. Since he rarely presents the reasons that may have ...more
Aug 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: listened-to
Book Twenty-Four of my presidential challenge.

Alternate Title: Jimmy Carter Got a Raw Deal

I was born in the lame duck days of the Carter Presidency. I always had a vague sense that Jimmy Carter was a huge embarrassing failure without ever really knowing why. It was always Jimmy Carter...something, something...Iran...something, term loser...something, something...thank God for Reagan. That's about as complicated as it went.

"White House Diary" was a slightly edited version of
Sep 21, 2011 rated it liked it
President Carter has written prolifically since leaving office over 30 years ago, but most of this volume was written while he was in the White House. The introduction and afterward put things in perspective as he qualifies some of the judgments made at the time the diary entries were recorded, and especially as he looks back self-critically to consider how he might have handled some things differently. He admits to not being a "natural politician," to having shunned Washington's social life in ...more
Feb 03, 2011 rated it liked it
I will echo the view of other reviewers who found the writing a little thin. However, I still found this book very interesting and insightful. I was only coming of age when JC was POTUS, but I remember not liking him much. As one might expect when reading from his POV, I gained some sympathy for JC's intentions and gained some new found respect. I found it interesting that he was more fiscally conservative than many give him credit for. This explains why he had so much difficulty with a congress ...more
David Bales
Jan 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
Exhaustive, shattering, exhilrating and sad, President Carter's diary of his years as president cover his excitement (and astonishment) at being the 39th president, his ambitious, wonky can-do attitude, his poor relations (and disgust toward) the press and the Congress, the Camp David Accords of 1978, (can anyone imagine Ronald Reagan spending eleven days in the woods with Begin and Sadat?) the problems with the economy, relations with the Soviet Union and China, (Carter recognized the People's ...more
Gerald Curtis
Feb 13, 2012 rated it liked it
The White House Diaries

I am not normally interested in politics, but I wanted to read this personal account by Jimmy Carter to find out more the Camp David accord; his gas rationing “tightening-our-belts conservation; the Iranian hostage crisis; and why he had such a horrible rating in the media. It certainly explained all of that and much more.

I listened to the audio version, about half of which was read by President Carter himself, often adding personal commentary to the diary entries, and
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Though at times a slow read, this diary is an open and honest look into the daily challenges, conflicts, triumphs, and regrets of a political leader who cared deeply for peace, human rights, and the the natural world.

At times, I smiled with nostalgia hearing names and circumstances from a time I can just barely remember. At other times, I despaired as I listened to President Carter describe his struggle to provide affordable health care for all and to stand against the deep-pocketed lobbying
JoAnn Jordan
Sep 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is a very frank and insightful book detailing what went on while Carter was president. There is a great deal of behind the scenes information and a sense of the challenges the president faces. It also gives some good background on the world affairs of that time.

I enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it to anyone interested in President Jimmy Carter or the life and duties of a chief executive.
Youssef Mahmoud
Aug 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
للتو أنهيت الكتاب.. ممتع للغاية، وتفاجأت من صراحة كارتر في الكتاب.. بعض الآراء عن بعض الأشخاص والدول كانت مفاجأة بالنسبة لي!
مما أعجبني هو التزامه بعدم تغيير ما ثبت حطؤه من آرائه مع توضيحه لذلك بخط مميز يُظهر أن تعقيبه ليس جزءا من مذكراته.
العلاقات العائلية وكتاباته عن حياته الخاصة بما في ذلك ممارسته للركض والسباحة وغيرها من الرياضات.. كل هذا بدا لي ممتعًا.. وبشكل عام الكتاب يستحق القراءة..
Don Heiman
May 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have read biographies about 30 American presidents. Of the more than 50 books I have read about our presidents, this was the most thought provoking and by far the best.
Steven Yenzer
Jan 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Fascinating "behind-the-scenes" account of the Carter presidency. The contrast with Trump is very funny at times; Carter writes enthusiastically about the speed-reading course he and his family took early in his presidency. His desire to be the most prepared, most proficient, most deliberately "non-partisan" (i.e. centrist) is heartening, even though he often falls short.
Rk Wild
A Book Inspired by Nixon!, January 9, 2011

This review is from: White House Diary (Kindle Edition)

"I began keeping this diary in part due to an offhand comment by Richard Nixon," President Carter states prior to the first journal entry marked January 20, 1977. The President goes on to write: "Rosalynn and I first met Nixon when we attended the National Governors' Conference in 1971. The president walked up to us at a White House reception, turned to Rosalynn, and asked, "Young lady, do you keep
Randy Auxier
Aug 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is Jimmy Carter’s 26th book, and as with all the others, he says “all the words are my own.” These words were culled from his hand-written notes and from transcriptions of things he told his Dictaphone, several times a day in some cases. The book is lengthy but still contains only a third of the material that exists. Some will wish that the denominator were higher and the numerator constant. The book requires patience (not quite as much as Sadat needed in dealing with Begin). The diary is ...more
The more I read about President Carter, the more impressed I am with his achievements, both in the White House and in his after-President life. Contrariwise, the more I read about President Reagan, the more I realize what a disaster his presidency was. President Reagan helped to usher in the hyper-partisan forces that had already been an undercurrent in American society for several years. Anyone who has heard me talk about President Reagan knows what I fan I have always been, but, facts are ...more
Aaron Million
Jan 31, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: diary
Carter's diaries reinforce my perception of him: self-righteous, unable to handle criticism well, and not able to figure out how to be an effective President. The diaries are interesting: anyone who was at the highest level like he was is going to have numerous fascinating people and events to write about. I did not like how he structured the format though; he only mentioned what day of the week it was when an entry happened to fall on a Monday. I prefer knowing what day it was for each entry, ...more
Richard Bartlett
Oct 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
As an English immigrant to the US (I've been here ten years) I find US political history fascinating. I wouldn't call myself either a Democrat or a Republican and, having already read Reagan's diaries, I thought it would be interesting to read the diaries of the man who came before him.

I know history (and the public in general) doesn't look on Carter's administration kindly, so I wondered if his diaries would redeem him.

Unfortunately not. If you didn't like Carter before, you'll like him less
May 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Former President Jimmy Carter, in his later years, has become somewhat of a grumbletonian, but I believe his motives — if not his execution — for improving the country during his one term were pure. This diary is excerpted from his daily journal while serving, and he conveniently is able to add updates about how his predecessors did away with this or that or how he was proven right on this issue or that. Only in an afterword does he admit that he might have done some things differently. Early in ...more
Nathan DiBagno
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I had read Ronald Reagan’s Diary about his time in the White House earlier this year. I enjoy reading the news straight from the person in office without someone else editorializing. It adds a bit to their humanity, and you get to hear a little about their day-to-day life as individuals and then remember that this is history in the making. You really feel like you’re getting a front row seat. I learned a lot more from reading Carter’s diary, probably in large part because I was more familiar ...more
Sep 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I found this book a fascinating insight into the life of a President as my family is well aware because I have continually talked about it. As with the cables leaked by Wiki Leaks,the book is peppered with candid comments about fellow politicians and world leaders. I got a kick out of that as in my mind Jimmy Carter was the ultimate diplomat due to his excellent work with the Carter Center.
"Pennsylvania congressmen sent a message that they were going to vote against all my bills unless we
Nov 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
100 years from now, historians will be confused by the Presidency of Jimmy Carter. Despite being painted by many conservatives as some weak spine Liberal, he's not that. However, he's not a social conservative, as would many people in his religion become in the Religious Right 1980s. Some would call Carter our first "Libertarian" President, but that too is also deceiving since modern day Libertarians would disown Carter for his stances on social issues such as health care alone. In other words, ...more
May 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall I enjoyed this book. I have always had a soft spot for President Carter and I enjoyed reading his take on events as he progressed through his presidency. What struck me most was his intense disdain for the media and the similar problems that he encountered that President Obama now faces. I loved the fact that he added in commentary to parts of the diary entries to further explain or update about events/issues/people. This gave a real insight to his mind. Some have said that the book was ...more
Jeff Wetherington
Oct 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I was in my early 20's when Jimmy Carter was President and my feeling was that he was not a very good President. In fact, I had much more respect and admiration for him AFTER he left the White House due to his work with Habitat for Humanity and the status he attained as an elder statesman.

That being said, reading his daily diary entries of his 4 years as President of the United States has given me a little bit better insight into what he was trying to (and, in many cases) accomplish. Carter
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010, reviewed
Let me begin by saying that this will be a review of the book, not of the president. I was not around when Carter was president, so I found this book fascinating as to what our country was like and the problems it faced during those 4 years. I love politics, and I especially enjoyed reading "behind the scenes" into a President's life and everything that he went through. What makes this book so important is how relevant it is to today's world. I was shocked to see so many parallels to our current ...more
Steve Cawelti
Oct 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
I highly recommend this book for anyone, regardless of political affiliation. It's a fascinating look into the realities of heading the country. I'm old enough to remember most of the events described, if only from a child's perspective, and re-examining them with an adult mind was a fun experience. Carter is not afraid to admit his clear mistakes, good intentioned, and obstacles, often unfairly placed, but that's life in the big city, farm boy. Carter is looked upon now as a dud President known ...more
Nov 15, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: could-not-finish
I have to admit that I quit on the book, which is not something I do often. Maybe it got better, but I didn't find the book at all engaging. I thought Bush's book "Decision Points" revealed something of his thinking at points during his presidency, and I liked Reagan's abridged diary, but the Carter diary was flimsy, filled with random thoughts which were all too brief and without insights. Perhaps I liked Reagan's book more than Carter's because Reagan as a personality is more engaging, and his ...more
Sep 13, 2010 rated it liked it
Three stars because parts were real interesting, but it's really more a 2, 2 1/2. It drags, there's minutia, and sometimes President Carter comes across as someone who never takes blame. Really, just because it's a diary which mostly make the writer the center of the books universe. It just wasn't written well enough or edited enough. He sounds, well pompous.

It heavily concentrates on events that aren't as important to me (like Israel - people are either going to believe he helped Israel and
Jul 27, 2011 rated it did not like it
Carter was an incompetent president. He is responsible for the loss of Iran to the radical Islamists and therefore he is responsible for emboldening the jihadists to take on America. He is responsible for the death of millions in Iran, Zimbabwe, Panama, eastern Europe, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon and else where. If there was ever a war criminal in the white house, he was it. The book gives you a good look into his incompetent management of the country and the free world. The sad thing is that this ...more
Feb 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Since I've read some of his other books, I chose to skim this one for his perspective on historical events and figures. The candid impressions of world leaders such as Tito and Margaret Thatcher were very amusing. I also wanted to know his feelings of the events during his presidency, since it has been put down over the years. I smiled when he mentioned that people said criticism rolled off him like water off a duck's back. That's a fortunate thing for him, although he did mention the public ...more
chronicles his meetings with foreign and domestic leaders, his weight, movies, sports, time with his daughter Amy, level of beauty of women he meets, creates the Department of Energy (energy prices go up!), Panama Canal, Sunday School lessons, reading, oh, and Iran. Occasional insight.
Eric A.
Mar 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Interesting & Informative excerpts from Jimmy Carter's White House Years Diary along with follow up comments from recent years. His view of his presidency is much higher than the general consensus. He also doesn't think very highly of the popular Ronald Reagan.
Andy Lucas
I really really enjoyed this book. It was a lot less dry than a lot of non-fiction books. I actually was really excited to try to find time to read it. I recommend the audiobook, which is very well put together, and parts are narrated by Jimmy Carter himself.
This book is slow going because it is a real diary, with updates from Jimmy Carter sprinkled throughout. It is an interesting look at the wide variety of issues a president deals with, and those specifically faced during Carter's term in the White House.
William Wright
May 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is really what you make of it. I am a fan of presidential history and knowing next to nothing of Carter's presidency, I thought this would be a good place to start. It's not exciting but methodical and informational. A very enjoyable drone.
Joseph J.
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was a supporter from 1976 onward. These pages contain the challenges he faced. Sometimes (camp David) he triumphed. Other times (understanding Washington)...well. Still, the musings of a serious and well meaning public servant.
Jul 20, 2011 rated it liked it
I can put it down and pick it back up and don't miss it. It is an interesting account of political life in the late 70's and early 80's. It is also interesting to hear Jimmy Carter's personal insights into events and people.
Tim Rideout
A slightly underwhelming account of an ultimately ineffective administration. Carter comes across as a decent man. However his narrative style is limited and the insights are often surprisingly superficial.
Jan 21, 2012 marked it as didn-t-finish
It wasn't that this was a bad book, actually very good. But just way too long for me. I know you can't condense a presidency into a few hundred pages, but I lose interest in political reading fairly quickly.
Toni Chanakas
Feb 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Jimmy Carter is a brilliant writer. What I enjoyed most about this book is how difficult a job being President actually is. He gives an honest account is what he dealt with on a daily basis.

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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