A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety by Jimmy Carter

Takeaway: Regardless of your politics, Carter is a fascinating man.

Carter is a fascinating man. I have read a couple of his books, but this the first of his that is more more memoir than policy.

I listened to this as an audiobook and he narrates it himself. This feels like a bit of a wrap up, especially since his recent cancer diagnosis. There is not a sense of finality about it, but rather a wrapping up.

Carter gives a brief review of his life. If you did not know anything about him, this is a good place to start. He spends time talking about his presidency, but not too much. A Full Life is about his life in general including politics, but not exclusively politics.

If anything it is the political portions that are less interesting. Carter, like many experts, thinks he is right. So the last chapter where he is talking about his post presidency and how he has interacted in the world has more than several places where he directly says that he thinks the world would be better off if the presidents after him had followed his policy or had listened to his advice or had let him help more. In some cases he might be right, in some cases I think he was likely wrong. But those sections are few.

Part of what is always interesting to me about listening to first person narrative from people toward the end of their lives is what they talk about. Carter certainly talks about his legacy and the things he tried to do. But he also is proud of his kids, he adores his wife. He is proud of some of his positions on race and integration. He also spends times talking about how much he loves woodworking and furniture making (I had no idea). And how much his mother was involved in his politics and the legacy his father left.

The world has changed. Carter as a boy of 12 earned money by selling boiled peanuts. Most days he could earn as much as a field laborer if not more. And because he didn’t have a family to support he saved most of that money. He bought foreclosed homes as rental property investments and fixed them up himself. By the time he went to college he had a number of properties, but his father did not want to take care of them while he was at college so sold them while Carter was away.

I think Carter will probably be judged less harshly over time. He was the president in a difficult time. He did not make all good decisions, but he did leave not do as much damage as many want to blame him for. It is a brief book worth reading.

A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety by Jimmy Carter Purchase Links: Hardcover, Kindle Edition, Audible.com Audiobook

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