An Hour Before Daylight: Memories Of A Rural Boyhood

Carter, Jimmy

Published by Simon & Schuster, 2001
ISBN 10: 0743212207 / ISBN 13: 9780743212205
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Synopsis: In an American story of enduring importance, Jimmy Carter re-creates his Depression-era boyhood on a Georgia farm, before the civil rights movement that changed it and the country.
In what is sure to become a classic, Carter writes about the powerful rhythms of countryside and community. Along the way, he offers an unforgettable portrait of his father, a brilliant farmer and strict segregationist who treated black workers with his own brand of "separate" respect and fairness, and his strong-willed mother, a nurse who cared for all in need -- regardless of their position in the community.
Carter describes the people who shaped his early life, only two of them white: his eccentric relatives who sometimes caused the boy to examine his heritage with dismay; the boyhood friends with whom he hunted and worked the farm, but who could not attend the same school; and the eminent black bishop who refused to come to the Carters' back door but who would stand in the front yard discussing crops and politics with Jimmy's father.
Carter's clean and eloquent prose evokes a time when the cycles of life were predictable and simple and the rules were heartbreaking and complex. In his singular voice and with a novelist's gift for detail, Jimmy Carter creates a sensitive portrait of an era that shaped the nation.
An Hour Before Daylight is destined to stand with other timeless works of American literature.

Review: Born on 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.

Carter describes--in 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 segregated train. "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 lost America. --Sunny Delaney

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Title: An Hour Before Daylight: Memories Of A Rural...
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 2001
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Used: Good

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