Prophet from Plains: Jimmy Carter and His Legacy

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Prophet from Plains covers Nobel Peace Prize winner Jimmy Carter's major achievements and setbacks in light of what has been at once his greatest asset and his greatest flaw: his stubborn, faith-driven integrity. Carter's remarkable postpresidency is still in the making; however, he has already redefined the role for all who follow him.

Frye Gaillard, who wrote extensively about Carter at the Charlotte Observer, was among the first to take the Carter postpresidency seriously and to challenge many accepted conclusions about Carter's term in office. Carter was not an irresolute president, says Gaillard, but rather one so certain of his own rectitude that he misjudged the importance of "selling" himself to America. Ranging across the highs and lows of the Carter presidency, Gaillard covers the energy crisis, the Iran hostage situation, the Camp David Accords, the Panama Canal and other treaties, and the new diplomatic emphasis on human rights.

Carter's established priorities did not change once he was out of office, but he was far more effective outside the strictures of presidential politics. Gaillard's coverage of this period includes Carter's friendship with Gerald R. Ford, his work through the Carter Center on disease control and election monitoring, and his association with Habitat for Humanity.

Prophet from Plains locates Carter in the tradition of Old Testament prophets who took uncompromising stands for peace and justice. Resisting the role of an above-the-fray elder statesman, Carter has thrust himself into international controversies in ways that some find meddlesome and others heroic.

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Editorial Reviews

Georgia Historical Quarterly
Frye Gaillard's engaging narrative presents a revisionist perspective of the legacy of Jimmy Carter's presidential and postpresidential years.... The profile that emerges is that of a complicated man of integrity, promise, and accomplishments.... [A] positive the historiography of the Carter legacies. In the light of contemporary foreign and domestic challenges...[Prophet From Plains] remind[s] us that candor and character matter.
—Frederick V. Mills, Sr.
From the Publisher

"A thoughtful work on one of the world's heroic peacemakers. During the past thirty years, no individual has done more to resolve conflicts, promote human rights and democracy, and eradicate debilitating diseases than Jimmy Carter, and yet he and his presidency have been subject to severe criticism. Prophet from Plains weighs both sides as Gaillard chronicles Carter's journey and evaluates his legacy."--Robert A. Pastor, Vice President of International Affairs and Professor of International Relations, American University

"Without pretending to be a comprehensive biography, Prophet from Plains provides an engaging, deeply informed account and interpretation of Jimmy Carter’s presidency and his myriad pursuits in the decades since he left office. Generally laudatory without overlooking Carter’s flaws, it highlights the Carter Center’s remarkable success in tackling deadly but curable diseases, the former president’s work with Habitat for Humanity, his personal courage in monitoring elections around the world, and his passionate commitment to peace and human rights. Captivating in itself, Carter’s story is enhanced by Frye Gaillard’s gifts as a keen observer and skilled storyteller. This book is a valuable contribution by a first-rate writer at the top of his form."--William Martin, author of A Prophet with Honor: The Billy Graham Story

"This is a timely chronicle of an extraordinary life, a rich-in-anecdotes account of how Jimmy Carter struggled with mixed results as an unpopular president, then pressed ahead with striking success in tackling international problems to become one of the world's most popular statesmen. Carter's political foes as well as friends should find this book interesting because it is a warts-and-all portrait of a politician who still stirs strong feelings among his detractors as well as adulation among his supporters."--Jack Nelson, retired Washington Bureau Chief, Los Angeles Times

"Gaillard presents a succinct, clear-eyes and nuanced look at Carter's presidency and post-White House life. . . . Prophet from Plains, which treats Carter fairly but doesn't flinch from exposing his faults, is a very worthy, and welcome, addition to the literature on the man who, for better or worse (or both), has had one of the most remarkable post-presidencies in U.S. history."--Creative Loafing Charlotte

"Incisive, insightful . . . Gaillard presents a succinct, clear-eyed and nuanced look at Carter's presidency and post-White House life, expanding on and clarifying his view of Carter as a genuinely unique American character, albeit one who's prone to stubbornness and impatience."--Creative Loafing

“Gaillard is a fluid writer, one immersed in Southern culture. He sees Carter's own coming of age in the Civil Rights era as helping develop the moral force and 'instinctive empathy' that has served him better as a former president than a sitting one."--Jim Morrill, Charlotte Observer

"Gaillard quotes authoritative sources reporting that while some of Carter's political failings were serious, there were indeed positive aspects of his presidency that have been overlooked and not given the weight they deserve."--Wayne A. Holst, National Catholic Reporter

"Gaillard's engaging narrative presents a revisionist perspective of the legacy of Jimmy Carter's presidential and postpresidential years. . . . The profile that emerges is that of a complicated man of integrity, promise, and accomplishments. . . . [A] positive addition to the historiography of the Carter legacies.”--Frederick V. Mills Sr., Georgia Historical Quarterly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780820333328
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2009
  • Series: Wormsloe Foundation Publication Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Frye Gaillard is the writer-in-residence in the English and history departments at the University of South Alabama. He is the author of twenty books, including With Music and Justice for All: Some Southerners and Their Passions; Cradle of Freedom: Alabama and the Movement That Changed America, winner of the Lillian Smith Book Award; The Dream Long Deferred: The Landmark Struggle for Desegregation in Charlotte, North Carolina, winner of the Gustavus Myers Award; and If I Were a Carpenter, the first independent, book-length study of Habitat for Humanity.
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