This informative biography examines how Jimmy Carter's Christian beliefs have influenced his actions and decisions throughout his life.
The chapters about Carter's early years are insightful in examining how growing up in the segregated South shaped his sensitivities to discrimination and inequality. Carter's sense of compassion and fairness was largely instilled by his mother's examples. Raum chronicles Carter's careers as naval officer, businessman and politician. Quotes from interviews and Carter's memoirs show how he relied on faith and prayer to guide decisions he made as president and throughout his life. Although his presidency is oftencharacterized as weak, Raum notes Carter's significant achievements in championing human rights and Middle East peace, as well as his visionary energy-saving initiatives. His work as a humanitarian with the Carter Center and as advocate for Habitat for Humanity are, surprisingly, given less attention. There are odd superfluities in the text, such as the definition of "possum" in the glossary as an "informal name for opossum." Suggesting to readers that they "put into practice the teachings of Jesus Christ" to live a compassionate life like Carter's will probably put off non-Christians, but they are not the audience for this book anyway.
An inspiring story about a humble humanitarian who has always tried to stay true to the tenets of his faith. Photographs not seen. (glossary, chronology, bibliography) (Biography. 10-14)
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Gift of Peace: The Jimmy Carter Story ZonderKidz Biography
By Elizabeth Raum
ZONDERVAN Copyright © 2011 Elizabeth Raum
All right reserved.
Chapter One Helping Out
In 1976, Jimmy Carter ran for president of the United States, and America went nuts—peanuts, that is. Few people outside of the South recognized his name. Who was Jimmy Carter? He needed a way to introduce himself to the voters, and peanuts paved the way. Jimmy ran his family's peanut business. He grew up on a farm and sold bagfuls on the streets of Georgia as a child. Jimmy chose a big smiling peanut as his campaign logo. He and his family gave away buttons and bags of roasted nuts that read, "Jimmy Carter For President." Men wore gold peanut pins and women wore peanut necklaces. Jimmy flew from state to state in an airplane called Peanut One, and his supporters called themselves the Peanut Brigade. It was nutty.
Of course, there was much more to Jimmy Carter than farming. He fought for civil rights, served in the navy, and had been elected Georgia's governor. He was a husband, a dad, and an active member of his church. It was Jimmy Carter's honesty and willingness to help others that convinced voters to elect him president of the United States.
Today, thirty years after leaving the White House, he continues to work hard and help others throughout the nation and around the world.
"First useful act"
Jimmy Carter learned to help others at a young age from the influence of his parents. His mother, Lillian Gordy Carter, studied nursing at the Wise Hospital in Plains, Georgia. That's where she met Jimmy's dad, James Earl Carter Sr., a local businessman. Jimmy's parents, who everyone called Miss Lillian and Mr. Earl, provided him and his sisters with a safe and loving home, first in Plains, a town of about six hundred people, and then in the smaller community of Archery, Georgia.
On the day that Jimmy's dad, Mr. Earl, took Jimmy, Gloria, and Miss Lillian to see their new home in Archery, he forgot the key. It was two and a half miles back to Plains, so Mr. Earl tried to pry open a window. It was stuck, and he could only open it a crack. The narrow opening was far too small for a big man like Mr. Earl, so he slid Jimmy inside. Jimmy ran to the front door and unlocked it. Jimmy later called it his "first useful act." Nothing pleased Jimmy more than being helpful.
At home in Archery
The Carters's house in Archery was square and painted white. Cars passing by the highway kicked up so much dust that the house took on the brownish-red color of the dirt. The house had no running water or bathrooms inside. Jimmy drew water from the well in the yard and hauled it to the house for cooking, laundry, and washing up. Extra buckets of water were stored on the back porch. The family used a "two-holer," an outhouse (or privy) with two holes for toilets. The larger one was for adults, and a smaller one was reserved for children—it kept them from falling in! The Carters took recycling seriously long before everyone understood its importance. Instead of toilet paper, they used old newspapers or pages torn from a Sears Roebuck catalog.
Although Jimmy's home wasn't big and fancy, his family was better off than many others. During the 1930s, when Jimmy was a boy, the Great Depression left many people jobless, homeless, and hungry. Farms failed, factories closed, and people lost their homes to the bank. Children as young as six or seven went to work, trying to earn a few pennies for food.
The Carter house sat beside a main highway. Often, single men traveled past on their way west looking for jobs. Occasionally, entire families took to the roads seeking a better life. Homeless travelers like these were called tramps. Many stopped at the Carter home hoping to find work or something to eat. If Jimmy's mother, Miss Lillian, was home, she never turned anyone away. She always gave them some food to help them on their way.
One day Miss Lillian was talking to a neighbor. "I'm thankful that they never come in my yard," the neighbor said.
The next time a tramp knocked on Miss Lillian's door, she asked why he stopped at her house and not others.
"The post on your mailbox is marked to say that you don't turn people away or mistreat us," he said. He explained that tramps used a set of rough symbols to help them find people who would help them out.
Jimmy and his sisters checked the mailbox. They discovered a series of nearly invisible scratches on the post. When Jimmy turned to his mother, she told him not to change those marks. He learned from his mother's example that it's important to help others, even those you don't know and may never see again.
As he grew older, Jimmy put these lessons to work. No matter where he was or what office he held, Jimmy Carter never forgot the importance of helping others.
Excerpted from Gift of Peace: The Jimmy Carter Story by Elizabeth Raum Copyright © 2011 by Elizabeth Raum . Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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