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White House Diary

October 9th, 2012

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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 worldEach day during his presidency, Jimmy Carter made several entries in a private diary, recording his thoughts, impressions, delights, and frustrations. He offered unvarnished assessments of cabinet members, congressmen, and foreign leaders; he narrated the progress of secret negotiations such as those that led to the Camp David Accords. When his four-year term came to an end in early 1981, the diary amounted to more than five thousand pages. But this extraordinary document has never been made public—until now. By carefully selecting the most illuminating and relevant entries, Carter has provided us with an astonishingly intimate view of his presidency. Day by day, we see his forceful advocacy for nuclear containment, sustainable energy, human rights, and peace in the Middle East. We witness his interactions with such complex personalities as Ted Kennedy, Henry Kissinger, Joe Biden, Anwar Sadat, and Menachem Begin. We get the inside story of his so-called “malaise speech,” his bruising battle for the 1980 Democratic nomination, and the Iranian hostage crisis. Remarkably, we also get Carter’s retrospective comments on these topics and more: thirty years after the fact, he has annotated the diary with his candid reflections on the people and events that shaped his presidency, and on the many lessons learned. Carter is now widely seen as one of the truly wise men of our time. Offering an unprecedented look at both the man and his tenure, this fascinating book will stand as a unique contribution to the history of the American presidency.


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out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12796 user reviews
History Books 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 worldEach day during his presidency, Jimmy Carter made several entries in a private diary, recording his thoughts, impressions, delights, and frustrations. He offered unvarnished assessments of cabinet members, congressmen, and foreign leaders; he narrated the progress of secret negotiations such as those that led to the Camp David Accords. When his four-year term came to an end in early 1981, the diary amounted to more than five thousand pages. But this extraordinary document has never been made public—until now. By carefully selecting the most illuminating and relevant entries, Carter has provided us with an astonishingly intimate view of his presidency. Day by day, we see his forceful advocacy for nuclear containment, sustainable energy, human rights, and peace in the Middle East. We witness his interactions with such complex personalities as Ted Kennedy, Henry Kissinger, Joe Biden, Anwar Sadat, and Menachem Begin. We get the inside story of his so-called “malaise speech,” his bruising battle for the 1980 Democratic nomination, and the Iranian hostage crisis. Remarkably, we also get Carter’s retrospective comments on these topics and more: thirty years after the fact, he has annotated the diary with his candid reflections on the people and events that shaped his presidency, and on the many lessons learned. Carter is now widely seen as one of the truly wise men of our time. Offering an unprecedented look at both the man and his tenure, this fascinating book will stand as a unique contribution to the history of the American presidency.
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  1. Forhasta
    October 10th, 2012 at 14:47 | #1

    Rating

    President James Earl Carters’ writing continues to be so honest and from the heart. People need to know that this true and great man accomplished much in his presidency, but is not given credit for it. Carter truly wants to make the world a better place and is giving his all to do this, in his older and more challenging years. He reminds us of Pope John Paul II. Both men honest, truthful and completely credible in their determination to make this earth better. Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II and The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II — The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy; two of the best books written about the Pope.

    Carter, like Pope John Paul II, was an avid fighter for human rights around the world. Carters’ most known fight against human rights violations are noted in his book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.

    Pleaase disregard the bitter, and very lost Carter haters who have not read this book. Read this book for yourself. It is a fluid and engaging book that wonderfully ties Carters’ presidency, and the many things he dealt with then, with present and current events.

    Inspiring book. We need more Jimmy Carters.

    Vi ses

  2. S. Roach
    October 13th, 2012 at 05:18 | #2

    Rating

    Several of the postings do nothing to enhance our understanding of the book, but instead elect to criticize former President Carter and continue to repeat ill-founded myths. Although Carter is widely believed to have been an unsuccessful president, the fact that his presidency passed more legislation through in four years than most did in eight shows perceptions about him are often wrong. In fact, Carter’s book shares the honest facts about his frustrations with others and himself as he dealt with problem after problem that was left to him to fix. Because he wasn’t that concerned with winning a popularity contest when he was president but was more interested in doing the job he was elected to do, and because he is quite straightforward in his writing, he was perceived as cold and arrogant and can still, in places, come across that way. Anyone who knows much about the man knows he is curious, an astute observer, respectful, a good listener, an avid and varied reader and researcher, and a believer in peace who is willing to put his life on the line to bring it about. The book demonstrates each of those to be true. However, Carter also is not a saint and he is not infallible, and the book shows that too. Carter was–and still is–very smart, he didn’t suffer fools, and he didn’t care what party someone was from as long as they could get done what he thought was necessary. Carter acknowledges that his impatience with Washington game-playing cost him some valuable alliances. In particular, his issues with many members of his own party are also shown in the book. That is one of the things I like about it so much. Even knowing that he would receive harsh criticisms for opening himself up to scrutiny and for being forthright about some political legends, Carter bares the unflattering along with the successes. It isn’t surprising that the Jimmy Carter shown in the book is often pretty raw with his words. The book is from diary entries, the one place where a president might be inclined to vent and really say how he felt in an environment where that was very difficult to do.

    We say we want a president who will be bipartisan, who will be conservative with the taxpayers’ money instead of being ostentatious with fancy parties and Air Force One vacations, who really wants to clean up the environment, and who will be straight up with us instead of mealy mouthed. We say we want someone who is very intelligent, diplomatic, versed in foreign affairs, and who embraces all peoples, yet when we had that, it wasn’t appreciated and even now many just don’t get it. I liked Carter as a president but thought he was destined to be a one-termer because he didn’t fit the mold. I’ve like him even more for the amazing work he has done since his presidency ended. Even if Carter’s book was lousy, I would still buy it to help fund his charitable efforts, so thankfully I loved the book and found it fascinating to read.

  3. Laura E. Nicol
    October 13th, 2012 at 22:39 | #3

    Rating

    I was impressed by three things:

    1. The incredible work load in the day-to-day job

    2. The Camp David Accords

    3. How many problems of Carter’s term still exist

  4. V. L. Wilson
    October 14th, 2012 at 03:30 | #4

    Rating

    In 1977 America elected Jimmy Carter, former democratic Governor of Georgia, president for 4 years. He narrowly beat republican president Gerald Ford who was finishing out the term of disgraced Richard Nixon. Carter and his attractive wife Rosalyn experienced a tumultuous 4 years. I remember those years well. Their southern hospitality, casual lifestyle, dedication to studying difficult problems nationally and globally are well known to seniors but not to younger generations.

    This is Carter’s 26th. book. I appreciated this effort toward understanding the why and how he approached problems. The diary entries he chose to include cover more than 500 pages. His preface, chronology, commentaries on many entries that are relevant today, comments on the aftermath of his presidency and acknowledgments plus the index are organized, well thought out and focused.

    Remember the Panama Canal treaty that caused so much commotion? Brother Billy who made deals with Libya, the hostage crisis and failed rescue mission that ruined Carter’s final year in the White House? Following the 4 tumultuous years via diary entries is illuminating. I did get stressed out reading the dozens of entries during meetings between Sadat and Begin trying to resolve the middle east conflicts still of concern today.

    For independent voters such as I, who choose to vote intelligently in local, state, and national elections, I urge you to read this honest effort by Carter in its entirety (and between the lines). Keep an open mind. Remember there were no cable news stations nor internet then but reporters kept heat on Carter and his administration and headlines were relentless in mostly disparaging articles. These diary entries provide balance, surprises, and insights.

    You’ll discover entries that make for a lively conversation among all ages. Don’t knock the book until you read it please. The Carter family are proud southerners as well as humanitarians and people of faith. Politics aside, being president is the toughest job in the world. Be careful who you vote for.

    Carter is now in his 86th. year. We can be proud of him and of Rosalyn for their lives of faith, optimism, and humanitarian efforts. They continue to live and learn, and we can learn a few things from them! Read his “afterword” and you might appreciate the Carters more.

    For more enlightenment on the Carter years, I recommend chef Henry Haller’s “The White House Family cookbook”, one of my favorite American history books. The section on the Carter family is fun and favorable.

  5. John Macarthur
    October 15th, 2012 at 03:38 | #5

    Rating

    I didn’t like Carter when he was President. However, since he left office, he has won me over with his books and by his principled stance on issues that are considered off-limits by the moneyed and political elite. Carter has not allowed political pressure and moneyed influences to prevent him from revealing facts that the powers-that-be are usually successful at squashing. I am particularly impressed with Carter’s willingness to tell the truth when it comes to US-Israeli policy. He’s not up for sale nor is he a new-age Christian Dispensationalists required to swear blind allegiance to a foreign power run by extremists.

    Carter is a man of courage, honor and cannot be bought by the AIPACs of this world.

  6. William T. Chapman Sr.
    October 15th, 2012 at 11:45 | #6

    Rating

    Simply could not put the book down. An important look into the life of an American Prisident. President Carter adds current updates which add much to the book. Do yourself a favor and ignore the right wing hate reviews(from people who don’t read books unless they come from Regnery Press) and grab a copy of this important work.

  7. Gomez
    October 15th, 2012 at 13:43 | #7

    Rating

    It appears some of the other reviewers wish to rate the Carter Presidency rather than the book. In my opinion, the book offers a unique perspective on historical events, some remembered, some not by me. I appreciate having the opportunity to see his candid reflections, brief as they may be. I recommend the book.

  8. Joher Coleman
    October 15th, 2012 at 20:08 | #8

    Rating

    If you’re considering buying this book, you’re likely beguiled by some of the suspicious, one star reviews here on Amazon. I’d like to address this before I continue with my own review.

    The latest tactic from conservative extremists is to criticize and demean anyone who has a differing political bent. It’s a sad and distasteful way to represent the proud party of Lincoln; himself a gentleman and free thinker. In the spirit of free speech and intelligent discourse, there is certainly a place to argue the merits and deficiencies of our leaders. But a book review of any merit will focus on matters of writing style, content, and narrative; that’s why it’s called a “book review” and not a “cable news debate”. Further, it lacks a fair and balanced sense of integrity if one criticizes a book they have never read. The lack of genuine content in these reviews makes this fact embarrassingly obvious. And, really, intelligent people of any political stripe deserve more than a bizarre rant.

    My advice as a fellow reader and consumer is to ignore BOTH five-star reviews as well as those with a negative agenda and pay special attention to those in between. I often find excellent feedback there; the result of fair and vigorous assessment. Kudos are given where due and appropriately backed. Similarly, weaknesses are addressed without sentimentality or reservation.

    Here’s what I like about Carter’s writing:

    1) It’s simple, concise, and nicely crafted. Only meaningful details and descriptions make their way into the author’s prose. He’s not flowery. He’s not sparse. It’s the right balance which makes for an accessible and engaging read.

    2) The subject matter itself, with its broad scope of well-known figures and behind-the-scenes details, makes this the kind of insightful “tell all” that an adult won’t be ashamed to read. :) Indeed, there is much to be culled about human nature, leadership, and negotiating from Carter’s experiences.

    3) The author is bold and frank enough to highlight his mistakes, shortcomings, and painful lessons. In this way, there is no pretense or vanity which might isolate the reader from the protagonist’s journey. In fact, one feels like they are “in the thick of it” with the president; sharing the same experience and learning the same lessons.

    4) This is a book that could have been dry and self-important. Instead, it reads like an elegant adventure through the halls of Washington power and over the world stage of public opinion. Engrossing.

    No book is perfect but I’m giving “White House Diary” a solid four stars. It’s worth your money and a terrific read.

    J. Coleman

    Actor/Writer

    [...]

  9. David A. Chase
    October 16th, 2012 at 05:14 | #9

    Rating

    President Carter’s latest book, White House Diary, is an rare look into the daily operations of the White House and Presidential Management Style. Any student of the Presidency should read this book with an open mind, as rare as that may be today. Carter simply presents his daily diary entries, no edits, no deletions. For many entries he includes updates and historic perspective. Should give everyone a better understanding of the unique challenges a President faces each day he/she’s in office.

  10. D. Winger
    October 16th, 2012 at 15:53 | #10

    Rating

    A Peek into Pres. Carters journal…. some things good some things not so….. At a great price too………

    The bad reviews are from the closed minded Republicans that wouldn’t be happy with anything any democrat could or will do.

    open your eyes and mind and read the behind scenes of history.

    a good insite from a gentle,kind,God loving man, the only moral president we have had.

  11. Cory Geurts
    October 17th, 2012 at 01:23 | #11

    Rating

    I was expecting this book to closely mirror President Carter’s well-written and introspective presidential memoir, “Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President.” While the underlying presidential timeline is obviously the same, the content in White House Dairy is entirely different.

    In “Keeping Faith,” President Carter explains that in writing his memoir, he frequently referenced his diary, and he often includes diary entries directly in the text. These selections compliment the narrative very well, and illustrate the thought process behind some of his decisions. However, the diary selections in “Keeping Faith” consist of just a sentence or two here or there. Also, “Keeping Faith” was written in 1982, so while still relevant, many of its discussions have become dated.

    While “White House Diary” is not an unabridged copy of every single diary entry, it does provide thorough, comprehensive coverage of Carter’s presidency. I don’t know of any other modern US president who has given us this level of access to their private thoughts and feelings. The writing style is classic Jimmy Carter: intelligent yet easy to read, slightly stiff yet completely honest. This hardcover book’s layout and quality are top-notch, including dozens of black & white photos; some familiar, some that I don’t recall ever having seen.

    The text is organized in an intuitive manner. Diary entries comprise the majority of the text, which is printed in standard font. Notes about the diary passages are indicated by italics, and are very helpful. This is where Carter ties in relevant personal thoughts, past and present leaders and political players, and current events. Rather than being a distraction, these italicized notes are quite helpful and serve as a kind of a guide throughout the book. A good example of this mentioned by Carter is the 1978 FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act), which Congress passed and which Carter supported, but which was circumvented by President Bush in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks.

    Carter has been a prolific writer; many of his books have been topical, and a handful of them are quite forgettable. For those who want to understand Jimmy Carter and his presidency, I recommend four of his books: “Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President,” his presidential memoir; “An Hour Before Daylight : Memoirs of a Rural Boyhood,” which focuses on his family and upbringing; “Beyond the White House: Waging Peace, Fighting Disease, Building Hope,” which covers his post-presidential activities and the Carter Center’s work; and this book, “White House Dairy,” not only for it’s intimate look at the life of a president, but also because of the correlations made in this book between the events of Carter’s presidency and those of today.

    5 of 5 stars: Entirely new material, unique perspective, well written and edited, appropriate length, and good presentation.

  12. Suzan A. Toma
    October 18th, 2012 at 11:18 | #12

    Rating

    An insightful piece given the current election. Many of the very issues we’re voting on in November go back to the time of the Carter administration. Wish all of the presidents released a diary so that we could really see what prompted their actions when other members of their party (or their opposition) are/were speaking for them.

    Will be interesting to compare this book with George W. new piece.

  13. Adelene C. KIRBY
    October 20th, 2012 at 10:50 | #13

    Rating

    I have long considered Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter to be among the most honest and candid presidents in American history. I had a high opinion of Jimmy Carter as a decent, humble, spiritual, and intelligent man, who has used the years since his presidency to provide wisdom and counsel where others have failed or feared to tread. Despite the fact that our family business bankrupted during his tenure due to high interest rates, and the fact that I remember waiting in line for gasoline on odd-numbered days of the week — or perhaps it was even-numbered days– I admired him as a man and a former president. I considered him a likeable, simple, educated man with superior intellect.

    In reading White House Diary, I am just shy of 200 pages into the book, and I am shocked to learn what a pompous, petty, autocratic person he portrays himself to be. According to his text, he seems to judge himself, Rosalyn, and Amy as perfect and superior in every way, while finding fault with just about everyone else on the planet, particularly if there exists disagreement with his ideas. He seems to feel that he alone knows best for all matters throughout the world, from whether to go backstage at a concert, to which Cardinal should be Pope. He relates the style of a dictator, and even implies that it would be easier to govern if he were a dictator.

    For such an intelligent person, his writing style is lacking in expertise and is full of errors. For example, he writes “It’s hard for me to concentrate on anything ‘expect’ Panama.” Did he not have an editor? He regularly omits conjunctions when listing several persons or events. His sentence structure is often poor: “I went to bed about 10:00 and got up late, about 6:00 this morning, to get some rest.”

    In summary, the subject matter is extremely interesting, but it is difficult to see beyond his dictatorial attitude and weak penmanship. However, he has published more than twenty books, and I have published none, so who am I to judge? Another hero has fallen.

    Addendum: After progressing another 100 pages and getting used to his voice, I wish to modify my remarks to indicate that I did not know that President Carter held himself in such high esteem. Had I been in his position when he was president, I think I would have dug a hole and crawled into it, because the problems he faced were insurmountable, as they continue to be for any president. I feel that he did what he thought was best, which is the most that we can ask of any president.

    I am a critical reader who looks for and almost always finds errors in books except those written by Stephen King and Dean Koontz, so I got a little carried away with my criticism. I am not removing it, but modifying it to a more respectful level. I continue to hold President Carter in high regard as a good man. His memoir continues to be a great lesson in history and politics.

  14. Clark
    October 21st, 2012 at 14:51 | #14

    Rating

    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 political system. Jimmy Carter presents a strong message for everyone to work together in order to make progress on serious problems that we face.

    Overall, whether you like Jimmy Carter or not, this is a must read book for anyone concerned about partisan politics and the damage that being divided causes our country. This book makes me want to learn more about Jimmy Carter and the late 1970′s in America.

  15. Gemludy
    October 23rd, 2012 at 22:24 | #15

    Rating

    I loved this book, it’s Jimmy Carter at his best. And honest as he always is and has been. I haven’t read one book he has wrote that I didn’t like. But, I have been a big fan of former President Carter since before he became president. I thought this book was one of his best!

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