A Full Life | Jimmy Carter

Summary of: A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety
By: Jimmy Carter


Dive into the remarkable life and experiences of Jimmy Carter, the 39th President of the United States, in his book ‘A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety’. This summary provides an intriguing look at his humble beginnings in Plains, Georgia, his progression in the US Navy, and his political journey from State Senator to the Presidency. Amidst the many roles he has taken up, including farmer, businessman, and community activist, uncover Carter’s dedication to human rights, equality, and environmental issues, which played a significant role in his time in office and even after his presidency.

A Glimpse into Jimmy Carter’s Humble Beginnings

Former President Jimmy Carter’s childhood in Plains, Georgia is characterized by hard work, simple living, and exposure to racial segregation. Despite growing up with limited resources, Carter’s strong work ethic allowed him to engage in various activities, from selling boiled peanuts to providing carpentry services. He also witnessed the racial disparities entrenched in his community, mostly between African Americans and whites. However, Carter remained committed to equality and fairness for all races, in contrast to his father’s pro-segregation views. As he graduated high school and proceeded to college, he aimed to become a navy man, inspired by his mother’s brother, who served in the US Navy.

Jimmy Carter’s Life: From Naval Academy to Family Business

Jimmy Carter graduates from the US Naval Academy and trains in naval engineering, develops a love for reading and music, and experiences memorable moments as a submariner. He marries Rosalynn Smith and raises four children while serving in the navy. After his father’s death, he leaves the navy to take over the family business.

Jimmy Carter’s life story is a fascinating one. He graduated from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1946, where he learned about naval engineering, electronics, electrical power, seamanship, and the construction and operation of ships. Along with his studies, he developed a love for reading about history, literature, and aviation, and also enjoyed listening to classical music with his classmates and running cross-country.

After joining the navy’s submarine school in 1948, Carter faced several close calls, including being washed off deck by a wave and seeing Mao Zedong’s troops’ campfires. These experiences solidified his interest in Taiwan and China. While serving in the navy, he married his neighbor and childhood friend Rosalynn Smith, and they had four children together.

In 1953, after his father’s death, Carter resigned from the navy and returned to his rural hometown of Plains, Georgia, to take over the family business. This decision meant that he had to give up a promising naval career without a guaranteed income. However, he persevered and gradually expanded the family business, eventually becoming a successful businessman and a future president of the United States.

Jimmy Carter: From Farmer to Governor

After inheriting one-fifth of his father’s estate, Jimmy Carter managed all the cultivated and timberland of the family farm and worked with sharecropping families to ensure the best agricultural practices. He then became involved in community affairs by filling his father’s positions and becoming president of the Georgia Crop Improvement Association. He faced opposition for his refusal to join the White Citizens’ Council but still won a seat in Georgia’s Senate in 1962. After losing the governorship in 1966, he ran and won in 1970, bringing fresh political waves to the South and ending racial discrimination. During his term as governor, Carter prioritized education, the environment, health care, international affairs, and taxation.

Carter’s Rise to Presidency

Jimmy Carter took on leadership roles in the Democratic Party after his gubernatorial term ended, eventually going on a 50-state tour on a shoestring budget to campaign for president. His commitment to the truth and engagement with audiences helped him win the Democratic nomination and ultimately the presidency. As president, he pursued a foreign policy focused on human rights, with goals ranging from negotiating peace in the Middle East to resolving the issues surrounding the Panama Canal.

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