Sunday, May 3, 2009

Beyond the White House

By Jimmy Carter

I almost stopped reading this one. I had high hopes for it since I am an admirer of all the good the Carters have done since they left the White House. Also, as an Atlantan, having seen President Carter on several occasions, I wanted to know more about him. The beginning of the book seemed to me as a “tooting our horn” type of memoir. The tone of the writing seemed to say, “just look how great we are.” This did not fit with my image of President Carter at all. I was so disappointed. But, I had paid for the hardback copy of this book, so I persevered, hoping for better and I was rewarded.

I found the section on Waging Peace very interesting. The way the Carter Center is structured and how they work without an official government sanction for their actions in some countries is fascinating. I felt many times, that the administrations (both Democrat and Republican) used President Carter and the Carter Center to do the work they could not do and to be able to deny blame when something went wrong. I was put off by the slight Republican bashing (which I expected) of how certain world situations were handled.

The section on Democracy and the Carter Center’s role in election observation around the world was probably my favorite. We take our democratic process and the seamless transition of power so for granted. The lengths the Center will go to just to ensure a fair election and the danger the Carters and the employees of the Carter Center will go to in order to protect democracy is an example of the strength of their character and dedication to the democratic process.

The sections on fighting disease and Habitat for Humanity were excellent as well. The impact the eradication of the guinea worm and the fights against elephantiasis and malaria in African countries have had a profound effect on the standard of health in many countries. As a human geographer, I was thrilled to see how the Carters worked with the local tribal chiefs, respected their beliefs and tried to incorporate the health changes in the to philosophies and everyday life of the local people.

I am so glad I persevered with this book. The work the Carters have done since leaving the White House has been world changing. They focus on little known issues, that receive very little government support or funding and make a HUGE impact on populations that often don’t have a voice.

Rating - B


  1. I am the second person who likes Jimmy Carter! I do not think that there are many of us. LOL I don't agree with his politics, but I did vote for him because of his life. He's a good God-fearing man, and that's been proven over and over since he left office.

  2. Glad you made it through, darlin'! I would have to say that Tyler would probably burn that book before I could make it through the first ten pages. Gotta love my Republican husband!

  3. This post caught my eye on the Spring Reading Thing because I had listened to this one for the US Presidents Reading Project. Being a Georgian in my formative years, I have a soft spot for the Carter's and agree their work is laudable. I enjoyed the book but thought that probably if I had to choose one book to read about Carter -this wouldn't be the one - I bet there are more interesting ones out there. This was a little slow and I think if I was reading rather than listening, there's a chance I wouldn't have made it through. Here's my review if you're interested -