In the last half century, former president Jimmy Carter has spent almost every Christmas in Plains, his cozy, rural Georgia hometown. This memoir, which possesses the sweet nostalgia of a Jimmy Stewart movie, recaptures the holidays of Carter's youth, with their handmade decorations and their simple, home-crafted gifts. The beloved ex-president pays tribute to small-town virtues and the lessons unselfconsciously in the midst of family celebrations.
Former president Jimmy Carter follows up his wonderfully evocative bestseller An Hour Before Daylight with a remembrance of Christmases in his native Plains, Georgia. For all but one of the last 48 years, he and his family have spent the Yuletide in Plains. Here, he looks back at how the holiday celebration has changed over the years, and how much the celebration of family and friends has meant to him.
This slim yet deeply textured memoir detailing former president Carter's Christmases as a boy in rural Georgia, as a naval officer, a politician and president serves as an excellent companion to his earlier, bestselling memoir, An Hour Before Daylight, but can also be read on its own as a tribute to family and a reminder that economy of gifts doesn't have to mean economy of generosity. Told in clear, honest language, these engaging vignettes range from endearing stories from his boyhood using the tinfoil from his father's cigarette packs to make tinsel for the tree as well as revealing ones Carter's thoughts and feelings during the hostage crisis in the Middle East toward the end of his presidency. These are the humble and heartfelt experiences that shaped and reflect his character: stories of his close black friends in the pre-civil rights era, of one memorable holiday involving a truckload of grapefruit, of another at Camp David, of trying to spend some quiet moments alone with his family in Plains even with the Secret Service in tow. The message illustrated throughout could not be more timely that gifts from the heart are the most important kind and should not be restricted to one's own family. (Nov.) Forecast: Comforting and inspiring, this should have very big sales among readers of Carter's previous book and bring him new readers as well. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
This is the 18th book by the nation's 39th president, whose previous works ranged from complex policy and political analyses to highly personal poetry and reflections on life. Here, Carter reflects on Christmas from childhood to his presidency and beyond, intermingling holiday (Christmas), place (mostly Plains, GA), and people (family, friends, and neighbors). Recollections range from the surprisingly personal to the political, as he discusses everything from his painful bout with hemorrhoids in 1978, to Christmas during the difficult days of the Iran hostage crisis, to the post-1980 election holiday, to a recipe for eggnog. The result is high on personal reflections but low on deep insights. Critics will see a great deal of "fluff" here, but others will appreciate getting a closer glimpse of a decent man who brought humanity and humility to the White House and to his life after politics. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/01.]-Michael A. Genovese, Loyola Marymount Univ., Los Angeles Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
From the former president, seasonal reminiscences recalling Christmases past, with tempered nostalgia and beguiling frankness. Most of the territory is familiar from Carter's previous memoirs (An Hour Before Daylight, 2001, etc.), but by highlighting the observances of a particular season in places that range from his Georgia hometown to Camp David, Carter infuses them with a fresh sensibility. He begins in the 1930s, when as a young boy he would go out into the woods with his father Earl a few days before Christmas and bring home the perfect red cedar to decorate. As he and his father searched for the tree, they also gathered sedge to make brooms as gifts for family members. Decorations were homemade; gifts were clothes (dreaded) and books (much more welcome); celebrations were rounded off with a fireworks display. Sensitive as usual to the conditions of African-Americans at the time, Carter recalls how his black neighbors celebrated. The local church was the center of their festivities on Christmas Day, the pine tree growing outside was decorated with small presents, and the children had to give recitations before they received their gifts. Family has always been important to the author; even when president, he and Rosalyn managed to get back to Plains for the day itself. As he recalls past Christmases, Carter also briefly sketches the appropriate background: his years at the Naval Academy, his marriage, and his decision to go into politics. He describes Christmases in the Navy (one on a submarine mistakenly reported to have gone down in bad weather near Pearl Harbor), during his terms as governor in the newly decorated mansion in Atlanta, and at the White House. Events in Iranincreasingly shadowed the holiday as he worked until the last moments of his presidency to set the hostages free. Vintage Carter, with his always-welcome emphasis on family, place, and the way it really was. Perfect for gift-giving. Book-of-the-Month Club/Literary Guild alternate selection; author tour
St. Petersburg Times Like Carter's earlier memoir, Christmas in Plains is straightforward, tied to family, land, and home. It is a treasure.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution A charming account of an era when family rituals and fellowship meant more than expensive gifts.
The Philadelphia Inquirer This is a memoir that is down-to-earth, evocative, thoughtful, and, of course, fascinating on several levels. And in the end, the man telling the story becomes so much more than an author, narrator, and statesman. It isn't Mr. Carter. It isn't Mr. President. It's Jimmy.
Chicago Sun-Times Christmas in Plains is a gift from the heart, the most eloquent kind.
The Washington Post A lovely and haunting piece of work.