Review: A Full Life, Reflections at Ninety by Jimmy Carter

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This book is relatively short and covers from President Carter's perspective all of the things he found important about his life. Stylistically, this is more in the form of memoir than an autobiography, even though it covers his entire life. President Carter is known for being a soft, yet plainly spoken man, honest to a fault, and perhaps not as feisty or hard nosed as a great politician should be. Which I find interesting, since he was a life long supporter of desegregation, went out of his way to make black people who were trying to integrate into his world feel welcome, did not shirk from this belief when his business was threatened, his boys were bullied, or when his political career was endangered.

If you want to know what life was like before desegregation, then this books will take you through President Carter's childhood and let you see that world through his eyes, from white eyes, how in the white community, there was a slow dawning of realization that their way of life was harmful. And white people opposed to segregation had a lot to lose. It took enormous courage to face those odds. This is where I believe President Carter's tactic of sounding soft spoken started. He had to walk a very narrow path, push too hard and be in serious danger in his community, or try in more subtle ways to gradually change people's minds to advance out country. I have always lived in a nation where desegregation was the norm. And I have read extensively the accounts of the evil of segregation from the black person's perspective. Clearly the their perspective is important because is provides are clear cut view of what segregation does. What it does not do is tell me what it is like to hold my modern beliefs of race in a space where they are not wanted. And very few white people who were alive during segregation articulate a view on it. You will find one in this book.

After his childhood, President Carter takes you through his time at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, then the early years of his marriage and his time as a naval officer. He developed some expertise in nuclear engineering during those early days of the nuclear submarines. Upon the death of his father, he returned home to take up his father's farming business and his gradual gravitation towards political life. He talks about his fight for the Georgia State House, and then for governor. His decision to run for president in 1976, and who encouraged him.  He breezes through his time in the White House to finally take us to the things he found important in his post-presidency.

This book is not detail enough to give a reader a good idea about what things were important in President Carter's life and presidency. You kind of need to know the man and his accomplishments. However, if you want a little refresher on his life, he remarkable post presidency, and to understand his character, this is an excellent book. There are better books by President Carter to pick up, but if you want an overview of how the world changed in his long life and why it matters, read this book.



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