HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: White House Diary
Author: Jimmy Carter
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010
Related website: http://www.fsgbooks.com (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Insomniacs
Rating: *** 3 stars (FAIR)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Carter, Jimmy. White House Diary (published in 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 18 W. 18th St., New York City, NY 10011). Someone gave me a copy of this book, evidently picked up from the bargain table because the retail price printed on the book flap was $30.00 but the sticker pasted on the front said, “Now only $5.97,” because I was “interested in politics.” I do admit to enjoying politics, but nothing would have motivated me to purchase it on my own and read through this 571-page monstrosity. And this book is a redaction from the complete diary entries made every day during Carter’s presidency. Mark Twain said that the Book of Mormon is chloroform in print, but Jimmy Carter’s White House Diary comes in a close second. Only a die-hard Carter fan, or a hard-core presidential historian like my friend Keith Pruitt, would find this book interesting. So I skimmed through the first half of the book, and then decided to read Carter’s reflection on the 1980 election, look through the photograph section, and call it quits. I am old enough to have lived through those four horrible years of Carter’s term as a young adult trying to make my start in life, and reliving what happened then, even if only in remembrances, is not very pleasant.
My view of Jimmy Carter is that he is a very intelligent and basically an honest, decent man, though sorely mistaken on several points, who was wholly unprepared for the presidency and therefore ran a fairly inept, incompetent administration. He campaigned as a “conservative Democrat” but surrounded himself with rather liberal advisors, including a bunch of Kennedy-Johnson era retreads and other well-known leftists of his day, and his progressivism is still being felt in our time, especially through the decisions handed down by some of the judges whom he appointed. In the book, he said that he was personally opposed to abortion but had to obey the law as defined by the Roe vs. Wade decision. Yet, I distinctly remember that in one of the 1980 campaign debates Carter roundly criticized and even ridiculed Reagan for being out of step with the majority of the nation because of his pro-life position.
Publishers Weekly noted that, while “Carter vents against everyone,” he pictures himself “as the principled, rational, speed-reading master of policy detail, with a cogent-to-him agenda of human rights, internationalism, and disarmament in foreign policy, and fiscal restraint, deregulation, and energy conservation at home.” Before I got to where I just couldn’t stomach any more, I did glance through Carter’s account of the Camp David Accord negotiations that he had with Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin which led to his signal legacy, the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt (the effects of which have pretty well been obliterated by Barak Obama’s obvious pro-Islamic tilt). However, even though Carter kept emphasizing his claim to being a friend and supporter of Israel, he came across to me as somewhat pro-Arab and pro-Palestinian and anti-Jewish. I do not wish to disparage Mr. Carter too much, but having been alive during his time in office, I feel that he was a poor excuse for a President. Whoever prepared the cover blurb for this book said, “Carter is now widely seen as one of the truly wise men of our time.” My response is “Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!”