A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Date: July 2015
Duration: 7 hours 47 minutes
At 90, Jimmy Carter reflects on his public and private life with a frankness that is disarming. He adds detail and emotion, for example, about his youth in rural Georgia that he described in his magnificent An Hour Before Daylight. He writes about racism and the isolation of the Carters. He describes the brutality of the hazing regimen at Annapolis, how he nearly lost his life twice serving on submarines. He tells how he beat the odds and got Admiral Rickover to accept him for the brand new nuclear submarine program by admitting: "No sir, I did not always do my best [in Annapolis]." He also describes the profound influence his mother had on him but how he adored his father even though he didn't emulate him. He admits that he both decided to quit the Navy and subsequently enter politics without consulting his wife and how appalled he is, in retrospect, at that behavior, how angry Rosalynn was and how she became his crucial partner.
Carter tells what he is proud of in his terms as governor and as president, and what he would do differently. And he talks very frankly of other world and political leaders. He talks about his regret leaving the White House after he lost but how he and Rosalynn pushed on and made a new life and second career. He is frank about the presidents who have succeeded him and how they have treated him and is passionate about the causes he cares most about, particularly the condition of women and the deprived of the developing world.
This is frank and wise and a moving look back from this extraordinary man. He was president for four of his 90 years. Of course that changed his life. But other things did too. Carter has lived one of our great American lives, from rural obscurity to world fame and respect, and privilege. And he is rigorous and energetic as he looks back clearly on his extraordinary life. And he is not afraid to tell us where he fell short, or at least short of where he imagined.