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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 world
Each 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, White House Diary is a fascinating book that stands as a unique contribution to the history of the American presidency.
The snarl behind the toothy grin emerges in these acerbic entries culled from the 39th president's personal diary. Carter vents against everyone, from Congress ("disorganized juvenile delinquents"), to the press ("completely irresponsible and unnecessarily abusive") and the incoming Reaganauts ("group of jerks"). By contrast, he comes off 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. His account of the "national malaise" episode reveals a technocrat groping awkwardly toward a political vision. But the hectic, sketchy entries, annotated with after-the-fact elucidations, mainly show President Carter breasting the maelstrom of over-scheduling, mundane politics, and brother-Billy issues, while eruptions like the Iranian hostage crisis sneak up; the Sadat-Begin Camp David negotiations and other summits, where his leadership could be proactive and untrammeled, provoke his most involved and insightful passages. Carter's judgments will stir controversy: he tars Ted Kennedy with torpedoing his healthcare reforms and abetting Reagan's 1980 victory, and paints Israel ("obstinate") and its Prime Minister at the time, Menachem Begin, as the main obstacles to peace in the Middle East. His tart wit and cutting candor add flavor to a revealing portrait of presidential achievement and, especially, frustration. Illustrations. \n