His Very Best | Jonathan Alter

Summary of: His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, a Life
By: Jonathan Alter


Delve into the remarkable life of the 39th president of the United States, Jimmy Carter, in this engrossing summary of ‘His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, a Life’ by Jonathan Alter. Beyond politics, discover the personal journey of a man who rose from being a barefoot farm boy to an icon of global change. Explore the moral costs of his early years in the face of racial discrimination, his enduring partnerships in both business and politics, and his transformative commitment to Christianity. Witness the feats achieved during his presidency, including advancements in environmental and human rights, international diplomacy, and social reforms.

The Epic Journey of Jimmy Carter

The book highlights the life of Jimmy Carter, from his family’s history as slave owners and landowners, to his upbringing in Plains, Georgia. Despite attending an all-white school, he identified himself as an outsider and embraced this persona in his political career. Carter attended the Naval Academy and became a submarine officer, reaching the rank of full lieutenant. He drew inspiration from his mentor, Admiral Hyman Rickover, who taught him to lead his life with purpose. After his father’s death, Carter returned to Georgia to manage the family business, which became the foundation of his political partnership with his wife, Rosalynn. He served as a church deacon, a Sunday school teacher, a volunteer with the Boy Scouts, and the chair of Georgia’s March of Dimes. The book portrays Carter’s journey as an American epic and a story of reinvention, as he advanced from a farm boy to a global icon and president of the United States.

Carter’s Transformation

This summary focuses on the political transformation of President Jimmy Carter, covering his journey from being a school board member who didn’t implement integration to becoming Georgia’s governor. The article highlights Carter’s discipline and his gradual spiritual transformation that helped him become more accepting. The summary also touches on how Carter’s political campaign team helped him become president.

The Rise and Achievements of President Carter

President Carter, the first Black woman senior state official and the first Black county judge in Georgia, rose to power by advocating for prison reform, establishing community mental health centers, and enacting the nation’s first “sunshine” laws. His reorganization plan for the government cut state agencies by a third and increased the number of Blacks on state commissions and boards. Carter’s presidential campaign was marked by frugality and grassroots efforts much influenced by his Sunday school background. His win in the Florida primary marked the end of the 150-year-old racist wing of the Democratic Party. Despite a fragile economy, he won the presidency with 50% of the popular vote, and advanced his legislative priorities during his presidency with Democratic control of Congress.

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