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Too Honest for the White House
Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins
A review of the book by Jimmy Carter
Keeping Faith:  Memoirs of a President (NY:  Bantam Books, 1982, 622p.)

Current edition now published by University of Arkansas Press; University of Arkansas Paperback edition (June 1995, 640p.)

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I met Jimmy Carter in 1991, when I was in Zambia.  I was there investigating local resources for organizing language and culture programs for foreign church workers coming to work in Zambia and surrounding countries.  Jimmy was there with staff from his Carter Foundation monitoring the elections of the country for a transition to democracy after a long period under the first president, really a dictator, Kenneth Kaunda.

I was invited to attend a meeting of American missionaries he was scheduled to address.  He was a wonderfully unpretentious and personable person, a real person meeting other real persons.  He spoke formally and then informally at a general reception with us.  After the meeting with the gorup, I had a further opportunity to visit with Jimmy personally.  I joined the chairman of the mission group that had arranged the meeting to talk informally with President Carter as he sat in the open door of his van, while waiting for the final security checks to be finished by his Secret Service officers before his departure.

In this book Jimmy Carter presents his memories of his one term in office as President of the United States.  He expresses himself in the same personal, unpretentious and humble style he exhibited when speaking to us in person.  He honestly and unapologetically presents his experiences in terms not of a catalogue of events but in personal terms of his thoughts and feelings.  He starts off with the Iran hostage affair, which was not finally resolved until a few minutes after he had already relinquished his office to Ronald Reagan at the January 20 swearing-in ceremony.

It was clear that the Iranian Revolutionary government had conducted this affair over the last year of the Carter Presidency primarily to undermine the US, bet specifically as a slap at President Carter.  He expresses the same disappointed concept of the affair.  Perhaps the Revolutionary government of Iran had already been given some word form the Reagan Republican campaign that they would get a special under-the-table deal on arms if Carter were defeated.

Carter reveals his approach to personal and international affairs.  He wanted to be honest, consistent in his moral consideration for both private and public responsibilities and decisions.  This approach to life and relationships was proven in the unprecedented success he was awarded in his post-presidential activities of international diplomacy, peacemaking and counseling to many governments, heads of state and the whole international community, far beyond what he do with the restrictions and political hobbles inherent in the jealousies of Washington.

Washington, and indeed much of the country at large, could not understand a leader who never hid his sincere, honest, consistent desire to be a moral person as the leader of the nation.  They could not understand the approach that decisions were made on the basis of universal principles of right and wrong, not political advantage.

This book is inspiring, informative, endearing and challenging in its presenting of a goal of personal integrity in all aspects of life, expressed by this great man.

See related reviews and articles on this site:
[reviews] Enlightment in and out of the American Churches
[review] John Adams:  Meeting a Founding Father
[review] Obama:  Keeping Him Accountable
[reviews] One Continent, Three Siblings
[review] Hilarity Sounds Alarm for America
[review] Naivité and Intellectual Poverty in Modern America:  The Ethical Challenges
[review] Rationalism, Natural Religion and Tolerance
[review] Religion and the State

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Written and Posted on Amazon and Thoughts and Resources 10 November 2006
Last edited 8 July 2011

Orville Boyd Jenkins, EdD, PhD
Copyright © 2006 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use.  Other rights reserved.

Email:  orville@jenkins.nu
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