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Jimmy Carter (The American Presidents #39)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  293 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
The maverick politician from Georgia who rode the post- Watergate wave into office but whose term was consumed by economic and international crises

A peanut farmer from Georgia, Jimmy Carter rose to national power through mastering the strategy of the maverick politician. As the face of the "New South," Carter's strongest support emanated from his ability to communicate di
ebook, 208 pages
Published September 14th 2010 by Times Books (first published September 10th 2010)
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May 28, 2011 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. A good, digestible Carter biography. Zelizer maybe dwells more on Carter's campaigns than on his actual service in office. The book moves swiftly and covers a lot of ground in just 150 pages of text (the rest is references and indexing). Facts are all backed up by references, and the books comes off as an honest and fair portrayal of Carter's public life to date, focusing primarily on his Presidency, of course, since this book is part of a series on the American Presidents. Carter is ...more
Dec 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Not a big carter fan, but we'll written.
Michael Loveless
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Zelizer writes of Carter that he had significant strengths and even achievements, but in the end he had no real constituency, nor was he willing or able to win one. For example, on reporter said of Carter’s 1979 State of the Union Address, “[It was delivered by Carter, who was unable] to lay claim to the unshakeable support of any single constituency. Even theough the legislative branch is filled with members of his own party, they received his speech with almost as little enthusiasm as they sho ...more
Robin Friedman
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
An Outsider President

The words "outsider" and "maverick" come readily to mind in Julian Zelizer's short biography of the 39th United States president, Jimmy Carter. Carter (b. 1924) served a single term as president from 1977 -- 1981, losing his bid for reelection in a landslide to Ronald Reagan. Although judgments must be cautious for a still-recent presidency, Carter's administration has been viewed with disfavor and is likely to remain so. Zelizer, a widely respected author and professor of h
Jul 27, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my second book of The American Presidents series, which I feel is better suited for one-term presidents. Normally a prefer a more granular history. With that said, the book sparks interest for further reading, e.g. neo-liberal economics, or middle east peace negotiations.

A decent, concise history.
Zach Koenig
Mar 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Halfway through this book, I was really disappointed by author Julian Zelizer's choice to focus on such in-depth material for this "lighter series. Luckily, the second half of the book changes focus and gets back on track.

For such a controversial President (at least in terms of how he is perceived), I did feel that this book did a decent job of keeping a basically objective tact. I didn't feel like I had to wade through opinion, which is always nice.

Like I said, the beginning of the book really
Scott Cox
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States, took office during the late 1970’s, a tumultuous time following the Vietnam War and Watergate eras. He defeated President Gerald Ford on a platform of being a “new” Democrat from the “new” South. He was considered to be a fiscal conservative, seeking a balanced budget. He was also a man of faith, which attracted many evangelical voters to his cause. Yet these very traits often put him at odds with his own party. The accomplishments of his one te ...more
Andy Miller
Aug 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
A balanced biography of Jimmy Carter, concise as are all the others in the American Presidents Series. The author, Julian Zelizer does a great job in describing how Carter's drive, self confidence, and an outsider perspective contributed to the running of a brilliant campaign that captured the Democratic nomination and general election. However, those same personal traits contributed to his shortcomings in meeting the challenges to his actual Presidency. Carter's self confidence as a candidate g ...more
This is that very rare thing: a short biography written for adults.

Though a little too long in describing Carter's presidential campaign, it's enjoyably written. I wish there had been more historical perspective and less blow-by-blow. It's written much like the way news is reported. Lots of machinations without deep thinking into what is important. It's so interesting to read about the names and events that you heard about as a child. I can't attest to the accuracy because many of the details ar
Apr 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: presidents
This is the 68th book I've read about 40 of our Presidents in my quest to read at least one book about each President. Jimmy Carter was the worst President EVER. Until recently. Why until recently you might ask? If you have to ask then you're part of the problem. Why did Jimmy hold the title for so long? Let's see . . . Panama Canal treaties, Noriega, energy crisis, gas lines, failure to respond to Muslim insurgents who deposed the Shah of Iran, failure to address Soviet invasion of Afghanistan ...more
Steven Peterson
A nice addition to this series of brief biographies of American presidents. The focus here is Jimmy Carter. The author has no reservations about being critical where such is appropriate, so the book has a bit of an edge (but not inappropriately so, in my judgment). The book begins by outlining Jimmy Carter's background, his first efforts at politics, his success as a candidate for governor, and his strategic approach to running for president.

Then, his presidency. From a promising beginning to mo
Fred Kohn
Not the worst in this series, but below the curve. Admittedly it is difficult to cover a president in a mere 150 pages, but I think this fellow made bad choices in choosing what to emphasize. Carter's presidency was covered in only about 80 pages, with the first 50 devoted to his early years and governorship and a lengthy chapter devoted to his post-presidential career. True, Carter's post-presidential career was particularly important and interesting, and I did enjoy the chapter, but it did mak ...more
This book is very short. It only consists of 150 pages for reading, while the rest are for the bibliography. It could be finished in one sitting.

However, there is a problem. As one who is not very exhilarated over Jimmy Carter's presidency or post-presidency (his political life in general), I decided to tackle this book just to learn more about the commander-in-chief whom I may have judged a little bit too harshly. I realized I haven't.

While my political thoughts are insignificant to this book r
James P
Dec 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Able to recruit large numbers of followers by shrewd political persuasion as a campaigner, but unable to make the compromises necessary to work with power brokers who had their own ideas of how to resolve issues and retain their respective power bases as politicians. The accomplishments of the Carter Center are clearly laudable even though they often go against the 'wisdom' of the dominant world powers. Similar to Madison in the possession of a skill set that moves humanity forward but lacks the ...more
Jennifer Nelson
I've never really thought the world of Jimmy Carter and this book didn't improve my view of him. The writing itself was bland, boring, and seemed to gloss over most everything (except election numbers and analysis). Although I am happy that Jimmy Carter makes a profession of faith and that he has led a somewhat moral life and advocated for moral values, I just was not impressed with his style of leadership and a lot of his political views. I'm glad to move on to one of my favorite presidents. :)
Nov 25, 2014 rated it liked it
A serviceable summary, in 150 pages, of Carter's work, capped by his receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. Zelizer sticks to straight reporting for the body of the book (in somewhat dry prose), and is only evaluative in a short epilogue that assesses Carter's successes and failures.

Working in such a compact form, the book is forced to introduce names of people and places without any context. Younger readers may wonder why Bill Moyers and Jesse Jacskon are important (they make drive-by appear
Francios B
Oct 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Ok . . . Carter was as honest as a President can probably be. He was a little to partisan to the Arab side of the middle east conflict for me however his Heart was in the right place. He wanted Peace in the middle east more then the Israelis and the Arabs did so that's why He couldn't meet his entire agenda.
Oct 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
Short book by the group writing biographies of each president. Carter was probably the most moral of all our presidents and likely due to this, was not the popular. I've been impressed with his diplomatic endeavors since then.
Good, quick read. Part of American President Series. Factual, but I thought Mr. Zeller could and should have been more critical Of President Carter acting as a rogue diplomat durung his postpresidencency.
Steven Freeman
Feb 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Probably the best past-president we have every had. Not afraid to take on tough issues regardless of party politics. His maverick leadership style has been successful and influential - leading to the Nobel Peace Prize. However, as a president, his leadership style was flawed and ineffective.
Alicia Joy
Mar 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Well written. So much information. Feeling burnt out in the series and disappointed the series is still not complete. Author managed to go through the whole book without revealing his true feelings on Carter. Incredibly neutral.
A good short biography of Carter. It tells of his rise in Georgia politics and his outsider rise to the Democratic nomination and Presidential win in 1976. It could have gone into more depths about the problems of his presidency but obviously these books are meant to be in the 150 page range.
Oct 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
I think too many factors worked against Jimmy Carter get reelected. His fellow Democrats did not embrace him or his policies, Russia was acting up. and we had the hostage crisis in Iran. So the people went for a Republican the next time.
Jerry Landry
Zelizer does a good job in his summation of Carter's life, focusing on his four turbulent years as president but also providing some insight into his rise to power in addition to his active post-presidency.
Jan 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Really liked this book. A great review of Carter's presidency as well as his post presidential accomplishments. I highly recommend - not only as a history review, but a "good look" at current affairs.
Alex Robinson
Dec 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: bio, history
How does one write a satisfying book about one of the biggest presidential failures? I'm glad it was short because it was a depressing read.
Mickey Reville
Nov 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Jimmy Carter's biography and the events surrounding his time as president of the United States. A great book to have high-level readers read while studying twentieth century United States history.
May 18, 2016 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
Charles M.
Jul 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Part of the Time Books series on US presidents...this book details what went wrong with perhaps the worst presidency during the 20th century.
Jason Chambers
Dec 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hist-7coldwar
So far, my favorite if the American president series.
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