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In this in-depth portrait of Carter, Morris (Sociology/Univ. of Georgia) argues that Carter's unique moral outlook was critical to his career as a politician, from his election as governor of Georgia through his presidency to his statesmanlike contributions to national and international policy today. On July 15, 1979, Jimmy Carter gave his memorable "malaise" speech (though that word was not used in the address). Ostensibly a talk about the energy crisis, it became a sermon about a "crisis of confidence" born of a national spiritual decay. It was, Morris asserts, quintessential Carter, treating private morality as a public problem. Morris uses this speech as a springboard for a discussion of Carter's morality, which he believes animated many of his actions as a politician. Carter's beliefs are a mixture, Morris suggests, of concepts drawn from his fervent evangelical Christianity and from an old-fashioned southern populism. As a young man, his emerging racial liberalism estranged him from white society in Georgia, and together with a fragmented family life, fostered in him a yearning for community that, Morris argues, propelled much of his political life. Morris traces the influence of those close to Carter (most prominently Admiral Hyman Rickover, who became a surrogate father to Carter during his years at Annapolis) on his ideas and provides a succinct record of Carter's career, from his days as a prosperous businessman through his successful campaign for the presidency in 1976. Evaluating Carter's approach to political problems, Morris argues that he has consistently attempted to use private spirituality as a moral basis for addressing world problems, including poverty, human rights, and world hunger.
A penetrating analysis of the unique moral outlook that animated an enigmatic president.
"[Written] with humor, precision, and precocious hindsight.”—Washington Post Book World
"A nuanced portrait of an intelligent, sincere, and decent man, who is more complex and more conflicted than Carter himself might like us to think."—St. Louis Post Dispatch
"Morris succeeds as an intellectual biographer.”—Publishers Weekly
"This volume is a thorough examination of a man whose high ideals were shattered as president but who, like the Phoenix, rose from the ashes to realize his highest dreams. A book well worth reading-and studying."—Presidential Studies Quarterly
"A timely volume that serves as a biography, cultural critique, and reevaluation."—Library Journal
"Required reading for every junkie of contemporary politics and history."—Bill Shipp