Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter: The Georgia Years, 1924-1974

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9780199753444: Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter: The Georgia Years, 1924-1974
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Covering their lives from childhood to the end of the Georgia governorship, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter is one of the few major biographies of an American president that pays significant attention to the First Lady. So deeply were their lives and aspirations intertwined, a close friend once remarked: "You can't really understand Jimmy Carter unless you know Rosalynn." The story of one is the story of the other.

To recount their remarkable lives, E. Stanly Godbold, Jr. draws on academic and military records, the governor's correspondence, the recollections of the Carters themselves, as well as original, unpublished interviews with a wide variety of participants in the Carters' political and personal lives. The book reveals a man who was far more complex than the peanut farmer of popular myth, a man who cited both Reinhold Niebuhr and Bob Dylan as early influences on his legal philosophy, was heir to a sizable fortune, and who, with the help of Rosalynn, built a lucrative agribusiness. Nicknamed "Hotshot" by his father, Carter was the first president born in a hospital, rode a motorcycle before entering politics, counted Tolstoy, Dylan Thomas, William Faulkner, and James Agee among his favorite authors, and claimed his wife Rosalynn as the most influential person in his life.

Volume I in this two-volume biography details how the Carters rose to power, managed their private and public lives, governed Georgia, and seized control of the national Democratic party. The cast of colorful characters includes "Miss Allie" Smith, "Mr. Earl" and "Miss Lillian," brother Billy, Rachel Clark, Admiral Rickover, George Wallace, Lester Maddox, Richard Nixon, daughter Amy, Charles Kirbo, Hamilton Jordan, Jody Powell, and many more. It is a sweeping, Faulknerian tale of individuals who would change the image of the South in the national mind and the role of the South in the presidency. Indeed, Carter shocked the state of Georgia and the entire country by calling for an end to racial discrimination in 1971, thus launching his national political career.

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter neither sanctifies nor vilifies the Carters but offers instead an even-handed, brilliantly researched, and utterly absorbing account of two ordinary people whose lives together took them to the heights of power and public service in America.

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About the Author:


E. Stanly Godbold, Jr. is Professor Emeritus of History at Mississippi State University. He served as off-camera consultant and on-camera commentator for the American Experience documentary on the life of Jimmy Carter (2002). He lives in Oktibbeha County, Mississippi.

Review:


"Stanly Godbold knows more about Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter than any other scholar. He brings to this book a fluent writing style, thorough knowledge of Georgia politics, and sensitivity to southern culture, all of which allow him to go beyond prevailing clichés about the Carters."--Leo P. Ribuffo, George Washington University


"An engrossing story, told with verve and superb literary style, that squarely sets Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter where they need to be: at the heart of American politics and reform in post-WWII America."-- Jamil S. Zainaldin, President, Georgia Humanities Council


"This book is a stunning accomplishment. In simple and spare prose, E. Stanly Godbold lays out the engrossing story of two complex and remarkable individuals who, together, constitute a formidable couple."--Laura Kalman, University of California, Santa Barbara


"Godbold displays an obvious respect for both of his subjects, but he doesn't hesitate to show Jimmy's bare-knuckles style of campaigning and governing as well as his tendency to make crucial decisions. A copiously researched but compact and highly readable book." --Booklist *Starred Review*


"Lucidly written biography" -- The Times Literary Supplement


"A thoroughly researched and evenhanded look at Carter's journey from a farm in southern Georgia to his improbable decision to run for the presidency." -- Journal of American History


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