Book Review: “A Full Life – Reflections at Ninety” by Jimmy Carter

I recently finished Jimmy Carter’s newest book, “A Full Life – Reflections at Ninety”. The book ranges in time from his days as a boy growing up in rural Georgia to his current work with The Carter Center in Atlanta. Though Carter has written many books in his lifetime, most of them have revolved around a specific topic. This book however is more of a journey into the life of our thirty-ninth president, with Carter as our tour guide; highlighting experiences along the way while providing further detail to those stories of particular interest to the author. I particularly liked the format because it gave me the opportunity to take a glimpse into the many phases of his life and not be so focused on any particular topic or time period.

We all know Carter was President of the United States and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, but the sheer volume of diverse experiences this man has had is mind-boggling. As an admirer of the former president I have spent time learning about Jimmy Carter The President as well as Jimmy Carter the man, but this book blew the doors off for me. In one chapter he talks about building furniture for his family’s home and in the next about nuclear powered submarines. I learned a tremendous amount about Carter, and his wife Rosalynn, that I never knew before. It is for this reason that I believe those who have read his books in the past, as well as those who know little of the man, will enjoy this book and gain a better understanding of Jimmy Carter.

One parting note on President Carter:

Jimmy Carter, the man, is second to none. Jimmy Carter the president has been dismissed and underrated for quite some time. This is understandable to some extent because of his membership in the unflattering fraternity of defeated incumbent presidents. He was also defeated by an average actor who has grown into a mythical figure built on lies, manipulation, and his party’s current desperation to construct a “savior”. It’s a shame, but I think Steve Kornacki from MSNBC put it best recently while talking about President Carter:

“Jimmy Carter is 90 years old now and we learned this week that he’s sick. But he’s still here and as long as he is, maybe now we can put aside all those decades of caricaturing and salute the goodness and decency that’s always been right there in front of us. Whatever you think of his politics, of his presidency, of any provocative pronouncement he’s made, Jimmy Carter is an honest man who loves his country and his family, who speaks his mind, who believes in peace and lives the biblical edict to serve the least among us. There have been better presidents and there have been worse. But we’d be a better nation if all of them were as decent people as Jimmy Carter”.