Books by Jimmy
The Hornet's Nest /
A Remarkable Mother
We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land /
Our Endangered Values:
America's Moral Crisis
An Hour Before Daylight: Memoirs of a
The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleejer
Always a Reckoning
Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid
White House Diary
* * *
Jimmy Carter's White
An Interview and Book Review by
Jimmy Carter, the 39th
President of the United States, received the Nobel Peace
Prize in 2002. He and his wife of 64 years, Rosalynn,
still make their home in their birthplace, Plains,
Georgia, a predominantly African-American town with a
population of just 637. However, the inseparable,
peripatetic couple continues to travel around the world
together on behalf causes advancing peace, healthcare
and a number of other humanitarian concerns.
President Carter is also
a very prolific writer, and the author of over two dozen
books. Here, he discusses his latest best-seller, White
House Diary, an annotated version of the private journal
he kept during his tenure in office.
* * *
Hi Kam, good morning.
President Carter. Thanks for the time. I’m honored to
have this opportunity.
It’s my pleasure. I’ve been looking forward to this.
The first time we were supposed to speak, the interview
was cancelled because you fell ill and had to be rushed
to the hospital. How are you feeling now?
I’m getting along fine. I was just sick for one day, but
it got a lot of publicity.
And how’s Rosalynn and the rest of the family?
Oh, everybody’s fine, thanks, and the family’s growing
I actually got to shake your hand at a campaign rally in
Newark, New Jersey in 1980. So, when I started to read
White House Diary,
the first thing I did was to look at your journal entry
for that day to see whether you mentioned receiving
words of encouragement from a bright, young black man
with red hair and freckles who stood out in the crowd
and made a lasting impression on you. But no such luck.
[Laughs] Well, thank you for coming out. I appreciate
that very much.
When I told my readers I’d be speaking with you, I
received an avalanche of questions to ask . More than
I’ve ever received before.
Really? Then, let’s get going and I’ll try to answer all
Yale grad Tommy Russell says: You have been on missions
to North Korea and to Palestine to visit the leaders of
countries that traditional politicians and philosophers
shun as unpalatable or useless to negotiate with, and
have discovered that negotiation is possible. What would
you say is the biggest lesson you've learned from
meeting with these leaders that others consider to be on
Well, first of all, it’s important to meet with the
people who can shape future events, and who might be
causing a current problem. And to ignore them means that
the problem will continue. Secondly, I’ve found that
they really appreciate it when someone who is
responsible will meet with them, and they really go out
of their way to try to be accommodating. On both of my
major trips to North Korea, the leaders of the country
made it plain that they want to make progress towards
doing away with nuclear weapons and towards ending the
longstanding, official state of war which persists
between North Korea and the United States and South
Korea, a war which has continued since the ceasefire
over fifty years ago. That sort of thing happens quite
often when we meet with people who are kind of
international outcasts with whom the government of the
United States won’t meet. So, when I get back home, I
always give a thorough report to the President and
Secretary of State to make sure that they know what the
Tommy also has a much less serious query: Having started
out as a peanut farmer, do you love a good peanut butter
and jelly sandwich?
[Chuckles] Absolutely, Tommy! We have them quite often
in our home. And I think our grandchildren like them
even more than we do.
PJ Lorenz asks: Of your many accomplishments, which one
is the most meaningful to you?
I think maybe the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt
which ended a long series of very challenging wars
threatening the very existence of Israel. That would be
one. Another that comes to mind right offhand is the
peace treaty turning control of the Panama Canal over to
Panamanians. The profitability and effectiveness of the
Canal is now five times as great as when the United
States was in charge of it.
Attorney Bernadette Beekman asks: What do you think of
the housing crisis here in America today, given the
escalating number of foreclosures and your work with
Habitat for Humanity?
It just shows the desperate need and desire of people
for homes. But it is also evidence of the greed of those
banks which made loans knowing that borrowers wouldn’t
be able to repay. The lenders then sold the bad
mortgages to unsuspecting investors so that by the time
the foreclosures transpired they caused a great deal of
distress to all the folks who had been taken advantage
Bernadette was also wondering whether you think it will
be possible to end the Cuban boycott in the near future
given the current political climate.
I hope so. I tried to do it thirty years ago, when I was
President. We established diplomatic relations with Cuba
to the extent that we have an “Intersection” in Havana
for the United States’ diplomats, and one in Washington
for Cuban diplomats. So, I believe that the boycott that
we have against Cuba is counterproductive, and it also
makes the twelve million or so Cuban people suffer
unnecessarily just because of a
foolish policy of the
Bernadette’s final question is: Have you perceived that
race relations have been affected positively by the
election of Barack Obama?
I’m afraid not. The election of Barack Obama was a very
wonderful step forward for the country, which has
unfortunately been tainted by the ugly reaction of some
right wing activists who are doing their best to cast
aspersions on his character and to question his religion
Jimmy Bayan says: The Iran Hostage Crisis lasted 444
days. In hindsight, is there anything you would have
done differently that may have ended it sooner?
I would have sent one more helicopter, which would have
meant that we could have brought out all the hostages
and also the rescue team. We had an unexpected failure
of three of our eight helicopters on that rescue attempt
in 1980, so we didn’t have enough to get everyone out.
Jimmy also asks, what is your assessment of the current
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Do you feel that he’s laughing
just a buffoon, sort of a clown on the international
scene who tries to be provocative so he can get his name
in the paper and his face on television.
Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier observes that you’ve been
recognized for your lifelong commitment to human rights.
She asks: What did it mean to you to win the
Nobel Peace Prize?
It was a great honor for me, and for the Carter Center,
which has concentrated its efforts on alleviating
suffering among the poorest people in the world
afflicted with disease, particularly those from
thirty-five nations in Africa. So, it was a great
tribute to the great work of the Carter Center.
Patricia adds that you and the late Dr. Martin Luther
King are the only two native Georgians to receive the
Nobel Peace Prize, and you are the only U.S President
to receive the
Martin Luther King Nonviolent Peace Prize. And in
2006, you gave a eulogy at the funeral of Coretta Scott
King. What did that mean to you?
Jimmy Carter: The
King family and I were very close. They gave me their
full support when I ran for President, and when I was in
the White House, Coretta and Daddy King would come by
quite often to give me advice about what I could do to
help African-Americans and the poor.
Hisani Dubose says: Thank you for remaining true to the
things you believe in. That's in short supply these
days. How do you finance your great humanitarian work?
Well, we have about a quarter-million contributors who
make modest donations every year to the Carter Center,
and we get some large ones as well. So, we are always
looking for private donors who believe in what we’re
doing to make sure that we have the funds available to
carry out our programs.
David “Mr. B” Barradale asks: Do you think about how
much less dependent on fossil fuels we would be if you
had been reelected in 1980?
[Chuckles] I think about that often, as a matter of
fact. While I was in office, we were able to cut down
the imports of oil from foreign countries by 50%, from
about eight to just four million barrels a day. Now that
figure’s up to twelve million. So, yes, David, I often
think about how much better off we’d be.
Leisa Hinds-Simpson says: Given the lower than expected
popularity rating for President Obama, what strategy do
you propose to increase the ratings and to get a feeling
of confidence back on track in the Obama administration?
I believe his popularity’s going to increase over the
next two years as he comes out swinging after the
Republicans take charge of the House of Representatives.
I think he’s going to be much more of a fighter in
taking his case directly to the people than he has been.
FSU grad Laz Lyles asks, how would you want those of us
who weren't yet born during your administration to think
of your tenure as president?
I would say two things: One would be human rights, which
we’ve already covered. The other would be peace. We not
only brought peace to many countries and people around
the world, but we never dropped a bomb, we never
launched a missile, and we never fired a bullet while I
was in office. Yet we protected the interests of the
American people in a peaceful, but strong way.
Lester Chisholm says: Knowing what you know about the
world’s current state of affairs, with the benefit of
20-20 hindsight, how would you have led this country
differently when you were president?
I think I would have been much more attuned to the
concerns of people who were desperately in need. I was
unfamiliar, for instance, with the plight of those
living in the small villages, in the deserts, and the
jungles of Africa. Now, every day, the Carter Center
works among those people in a very exciting, fruitful,
and gratifying way. That’s definitely one of the things
I wish had been aware of when I was in the White House.
Larry Greenberg recalls that in 1978, you declared a
federal emergency at Love Canal. He asks: How would you
characterize progress in our nation’s management of
toxic materials since then?
[Chuckles] We passed the Superfund Act the last few
months I was in office, which finally made it possible
to fine the large corporations which were polluting our
streams, our soil and our air, and to make them pay for
the cleanup. I’m proud of passing those laws, but I
would just hope that Congress and incumbent Presidents
will continue to enforce them.
Rudy Lewis says: Many African nations are celebrating a
half-century of independence. Are you optimistic or
pessimistic about those countries’ ability to deal with
matters of poverty and self-governance?
Rudy, the Carter Center spends every day in Africa,
and I go over several times a year. We have helped
conduct many elections there, for example, in Ghana,
just recently, which had a wonderful election
process. We also did the election in Liberia when
the only African female president [Ellen
Johnson-Sirleaf] was elected.
So, I’ve witnessed a very strong move towards democracy
since leaving the White House. But unfortunately, some
of the African leaders employ various nefarious means to
remain in office far beyond what their constitutions
I’d say it’s a mixed bag, but in general the 53
countries on the continent of Africa have made great
progress towards freedom and democracy, and in terms of
electing good, sound administrations.
Rudy also says: You have made progressive statements
about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Do you think
that the parties will sign a meaningful peace agreement
on the proposed Two-State Solution within the next five
Jimmy Carter: They
will, if Israel would agree to withdraw from the
occupied territories. I don’t think there’s going to be
peace as long as Israel is occupying land that belongs
to the Palestinians, to Lebanon and to Syria. So, that’s
a decision that Israel will have to make.
Wesley Derbyshire says: I have always appreciated your
diplomatic strength. If you were still in office, how
would you handle getting us out of this expensive war in
I’d get us out as soon as possible. We know definitively
that Al-Qaida isn’t all over Afghanistan anymore.
According to CIA estimates, there are less than a
hundred Al-Qaida members in the entire country. Most of
them are in Pakistan. So, it’s hard for me to understand
why we’re still fighting there and sending in more and
more troops. I would get out of Afghanistan as quickly
Howard Harris asks: Was being President worth it?
It was. For one thing, I enjoyed being President.
Secondly, I believe we accomplished a lot of good things
while I was in office. We maintained a very good working
relationship with both Republicans and Democrats during
my tenure. Consequently, we had a very high batting
average in dealing with Congress on some very
controversial issues. Plus, we kept our nation at peace,
we obeyed the law, and we told the truth.
Harriet Pakula Teweles says: Despite the tremendous
accomplishments of your presidency and post-presidency,
some people still reflect on the candor of your Playboy
interview admissions about having "lust in your heart."
If you were to do a Playboy interview today, would you
be as forthcoming?
[LOL] No, I don’t think I would. I was a little bit
naďve back in those days. All I did was quote a Bible
verse from the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus said that
people who have lust in their heart as just as guilty as
those who commit adultery. But that landed me in serious
trouble. As a matter of fact, that almost cost me the
election. By the way, it was the best-selling Playboy
issue in history.
Children’s book author Irene Smalls asks: What is the
most critical issue facing America today?
I’d say the growing chasm between rich people and poor
people not only in this country but all around the
world. That difference between the rich and poor is
growing every month. Giving people equal access to
enjoying the benefits of this great country is the
biggest problem that we’re not making any progress in
Irene is also curious about whether you might like to be
No, I’m 86, and too old to be President. Moreover, when
I ran, I didn’t have any money. Now, it requires raising
hundreds of millions of dollars just to get the
nomination, and I don’t care to be involved in that
Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you
wish someone would?
[Laughs] No, I can’t think of any, you’ve just gone
through an excellent string of them which I’ve
The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?
Not really. I have a great deal of confidence in myself
and in my faith. As far as being in dangerous situations
around the world is concerned, I always have a Secret
Service detail with me as one of the privileges of a
former President. So, the answer is “No.”
The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?
The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you
had a good laugh?
Leon Marquis asks: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
[LOL] I have a lot of pleasures but I don’t feel guilty
about them. One of my greatest pleasures is being on the
farmland that’s been in the family since 1833. I enjoy
walking by myself on the same paths where, as a little
boy, I delighted in following my father around. I don’t
feel guilty about it, but that’s one I don’t care to
share with anyone else.
The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last
book you read?
Right now I’m reading
Washington Rules, a book which points out the
serious problem which America faces because we are
constantly involved in unnecessary wars.
The music maven Heather Covington question: What music
do you like to listen to?
I listen to Willie Nelson pretty regularly on my iPod.
What is your favorite dish to cook?
I’m an expert cook when it comes to preparing the quail,
ducks, geese, and wild turkeys that I hunt on the farm.
When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
I see a person who’s getting older every year.
If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would
that be for?
Peace for Israel and for Israel’s neighbors.
The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest
Moving into a new house, when I was four years old. The
front door was locked and we didn’t have a key, so my
daddy let me climb through the window to open the door.
The Rudy Lewis question: Who’s at the top of your hero
Among Presidents, I’d say Harry Truman, because he was
courageous enough to command that racial segregation be
ended in the military. I was serving in a submarine in
the U.S. Navy at the time he issued the order.
What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow
in your footsteps?
Always tell the truth, and take an interest in serving
the people around you as much as possible.
The Tavis Smiley questions. First, how introspective are
I’m much more introspective than I was, say, thirty
years ago. When I reflect upon my blessings during my
very nice lifetime, I am inspired to make sure that I
spend the balance of the days of my existence in a
Secondly, how do you want to be remembered?
I’d like to be remembered as someone who was a champion
of peace and human rights.
Well, thanks again for the time, President Carter. And I
really appreciate your addressing each question
Thank you, Kam. I’ve really enjoyed speaking with you. [Donate
to or to get involved with the Carter Center.]
* * *
White House Diary by President Jimmy Carter
Straus and Giroux / Hardcover, $30.00
612 pages, Illustrated / ISBN:
Review by Kam Williams
four years in the White House, I kept a
personal diary by dictating my thoughts and
observations several times each day. . . .
When dictating entries to my diary . . . I
intertwined my personal opinions and
activities with a brief description of the
official duties I performed.
should remember that I seldom exercised any
restraint on what I dictated, because I did
not contemplate the more personal entries
ever being made public. . . . Despite a
temptation to conceal my errors,
misjudgments of people, or lack of
foresight, I decided when preparing this
book not to revise the original transcript.
. . .
this book, I wrote explanatory notes to help
the reader understand the context of the
entries, bring to life the duties of a
president, offer insights into a number of
the people I worked with, and point out how
many of the important challenges remain the
same. . . . In presenting this annotated
diary, my intention is not to defend or
excuse my own actions or to criticize
others, but simply to provide, based on
current knowledge, an objective analysis.—Excerpted
from the Preface (pgs. xiii-xv)
Jimmy Carter, the 39th
President of the United States, ran the U.S. Ship of
State from 1977 to 1981, four perilous years marked by
crises in everything from the Middle East to human
rights to the economy to the Cold War to the environment
to nuclear power. To his credit, Carter in retirement
can proudly reflect that during his tenure, “We obeyed
the law, we told the truth, and we kept the peace.” This
turn of events proved to be a breath of fresh air for a
country which had emerged from the Vietnam War and
Watergate scandal extremely cynical about its political
And thanks to
a tip from President Nixon who made the
suggestion the first time they met, Carter
decided to start keeping a journal while he
was in office. If you remember, Jimmy had a
certain, down-home folksy charm which had
endeared him to the electorate, and that
same tone is reflected in
White House Diary, a 600-page opus
condensed from what was originally over
5,000-pages in length.
president augmented the
chronologically-arranged text with a
sprinkling of present-day commentary where
necessary to help elucidate the material.
Basically, the book offers both a broad look
at the scope of the Chief Executive’s
exhausting daily schedule as well as an
intimate peek inside the workings of the
most enjoyed the humanizing entries, such as
the one that starts, “Mama fell and broke
her right hip” as he frets about the health
of First Mother Miss Lillian. I could even
appreciate the minimalism he employed while
on vacation when “Fishing all day” says it
A delightful, eye-opening
memoir which reveals Jimmy Carter as still a simple
peanut farmer from Plains, Georgia, who never
compromised his faith, integrity or commitment to family
while tackling the responsibilities of what might very
well be the most demanding job on the face of the Earth.
* * *
Washington Rules: America's Path to
By Andrew Bacevich
spends more on the military than the entire
rest of the world combined and maintains
300,000 troops abroad in an “empire of
bases,” all part of a credo of global
leadership and a consensus that the U.S.
must maintain a state of semiwar. The
Washington consensus, across administrations
dating back to the Cold War, is that the
world must be organized in alignment with
American principles, even if it means using
force. Bacevich, with background in the
military at the rank of retired army colonel
and the perspective afforded by academia,
offers a vivid and critical analysis of the
assumptions behind the credo of global
leadership and eternal military vigilance
that has become increasingly expensive and
He details American
misadventures from the Bay of Pigs to the invasion in
Iraq, and the most prominent figures (“semiwarriors par
excellence”) behind the credo, notably Allen Dulles,
director of the CIA in the 1950s, and Curtis LeMay,
director of the Strategic Air Command during the same
period. The credo of global leadership and
hyper-militarism is so ingrained and resilient in the
U.S. psyche that it survived even the doubts that
surfaced after the miserable failure of U.S. military
might in Vietnam. Whatever their party or philosophy,
all presidents want to project an image of toughness
that has made them vulnerable to the credo, at great
cost in American dollars and lives. Bacevich challenges
Washington (the president, Congress, and the military
industrial complex) as well as citizens to rethink the
credo that has directed national security for
* * *
An Hour Before Daylight: Memoirs of a Rural
By Jimmy Carter
October 1, 1924,
Jimmy Carter grew up on a Georgia farm
during the Great Depression. In
An Hour Before Daylight, the former
president tells the story of his rural
boyhood, and paints a sensitive portrait of
America before the civil rights movement.
glorious, if sometimes gory, detail--growing
up on a farm where everything was done by
either hand or mule: plowing fields,
"mopping" cotton to kill pests, cutting
sugar cane, shaking peanuts, or processing
pork. He also describes the joys of walking
barefoot ("this habit alone helped to create
a sense of intimacy with the earth"), taking
naps with his father on the porch after
lunch, and hunting with slingshots and
boomerangs with his playmates—all
of whom were black.
Carter was in constant
contact with his black neighbors; he worked alongside
them, ate in their homes, and often spent the night in
the home of Rachel and Jack Clark, "on a pallet on the
floor stuffed with corn shucks," when his parents were
away. However, this intimacy was possible only on the
farm. When young Jimmy and his best friend, A.D. Davis,
went to town to see a movie, they waited for the train
together, paid their 15 cents, and then separated into
"white" and "colored" compartments. Once in Americus,
they walked to the theater together, but separated
again, with Jimmy buying a seat on the main floor or
first balcony at the front door, and A.D. going around
to the back door to buy his seat up in the upper
balcony. After the movie, they returned home on another
"I don't remember ever
questioning the mandatory racial separation, which we
accepted like breathing or waking up in Archery every
morning." In this
warm, almost sepia-toned narrative, Carter describes his
relationships with his parents and with the five people—only
two of whom were white—who
most affected his early life. Best of all, however,
Carter presents his sweetly nostalgic recollections of a
Delaney, Amazon.com Review
* * *
Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid
The book is
about Palestine, the occupied territories,
and not about Israel. Forced segregation in
the West Bank and terrible oppression of the
Palestinians create a situation accurately
described by the word. I made it plain in
the text that this abuse is not based on
racism, but on the desire of a minority of
Israelis to confiscate and colonize
Palestinian land. This violates the basic
humanitarian premises on which the nation of
Israel was founded. My surprise is that most
critics of the book have ignored the facts
about Palestinian persecution and its
proposals for future peace and resorted to
personal attacks on the author. No one could
visit the occupied territories and deny that
the book is accurate. . . .
I would not
want to wait two more years. It is
encouraging that President George W. Bush
has announced that peace in the Holy Land
will be a high priority for his
administration during the next two years.
On her January trip to
the region, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has
called for early U.S.-Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
She has recommended the 2002 offer of the Arab nations
as a foundation for peace: full recognition of Israel
based on a return to its internationally recognized
borders. This offer is compatible with official U.S.
Government policy, previous agreements approved by
Israeli governments in 1978 and 1993, and with the
International Quartet's "roadmap for peace." My book
proposes that, through negotiated land swaps, this
"green line" border be modified to permit a substantial
number of Israelis settlers to remain in Palestine. With
strong U.S. pressure, backed by the U.N., Russia, and
the European Community, Israelis and Palestinians would
have to come to the negotiating table.—Jimmy
* * *
How US Energy Policy Got
Militarized—The association between
"energy security" (as it's now termed) and "national security" was
established long ago. President Franklin D. Roosevelt first forged
this association way back in 1945, when he
pledged to protect the Saudi Arabian royal family in return for
privileged American access to Saudi oil. The relationship was given
formal expression in 1980, when President Jimmy Carter
told Congress that maintaining the uninterrupted flow of Persian
Gulf oil was a "vital interest" of the United States, and attempts
by hostile nations to cut that flow would be countered "by any means
necessary, including military force."
To implement this "doctrine,"
Carter ordered the creation of a Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force,
specifically earmarked for combat operations in the Persian Gulf
area. President Ronald Reagan later turned that force into a
full-scale regional combat organization, the U.S. Central Command,
CENTCOM. Every president since Reagan has added to CENTCOM's
responsibilities, endowing it with additional bases, fleets, air
squadrons, and other assets. As the country has, more recently, come
to rely on oil from the Caspian Sea basin and Africa, U.S. military
capabilities are being beefed up in those areas as well.—Alternet
posted 1 November 2010