Tag Archives: Jimmy Carter

White House Ghosts by Robert Schlesinger

I’ve finally finished Robert Schlesinger’s White House Ghosts: Presidents and Their Speechwriters (click here to view all my posts about this book); once I made some time for reading it was a breeze to get through.

And my final verdict: this book is a winner!

As a young person born after most of these president’s governed, I enjoyed learning more about our nation’s presidents. I also liked learning about the roles of Chris Matthews, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Peggy Noonan, James Fallows, and other familiar figures through different administrations.

I especially appreciated reading about Eric Liu (who thoughtfully expressed the confusion anguish many Asian American’s feel about their heritage and cultural identity in his memoir The Accidental Asian: Notes of a Native Speaker, which I read in 2002) and Rahm Emmanuel and their roles in the Clinton administration.

Schlesinger convinced me of the importance of presidential speechwriters; as he tells it, Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush failed to win second terms (and Bill Clinton contributed to the Republicans winning control of the House and Senate and George W. Bush’s election to governor of Texas in 1994) largely because they did not view presidential speeches as serious business.

And serious business it is. An effective leader must have excellent communication skills or will fail to effect change. So while some have derided Barack Obama for his eloquent prose, I believe it will make him a better president.

Click here to visit the official website for the White House Ghosts, here to read an excerpt on the publisher’s website, or here to view the table of contents.


Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid by Jimmy Carter

I haven’t been interested in reading any of former President Jimmy Carter’s books.

And this Nobel Peace Prize winner has written a lot of books:

I didn’t know that he wrote not just non-fiction but also a book of poetry and a children’s book. And that doesn’t even include the books that he’s written prefaces, forewords or introductions for!

But the one I’m considering reading now is Carter’s Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. I remember reading a less than glowing New York Times review of this book in January 2007 not long after this book came out.

Obviously the publisher thinks much more highly of this book; here’s what the publisher has to say about this book:

President Carter, who was able to negotiate peace between Israel and Egypt, has remained deeply involved in Middle East affairs since leaving the White House. He has stayed in touch with the major players from all sides in the conflict and has made numerous trips to the Holy Land, most recently as an observer in the Palestinian elections of 2005 and 2006.

In this book President Carter shares his intimate knowledge of the history of the Middle East and his personal experiences with the principal actors, and he addresses sensitive political issues many American officials avoid. Pulling no punches, Carter prescribes steps that must be taken for the two states to share the Holy Land without a system of apartheid or the constant fear of terrorism.

The general parameters of a long-term, two-state agreement are well known, the president writes. There will be no substantive and permanent peace for any peoples in this troubled region as long as Israel is violating key U.N. resolutions, official American policy, and the international “road map” for peace by occupying Arab lands and oppressing the Palestinians. Except for mutually agreeable negotiated modifications, Israel’s official pre-1967 borders must be honored. As were all previous administrations since the founding of Israel, U.S. government leaders must be in the forefront of achieving this long-delayed goal of a just agreement that both sides can honor.

Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid is a challenging, provocative, and courageous book.

Having read Queen Noor’s Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life, I’d like to learn more about Israeli-Palestinian history and politics and I’m interested in reading Carter’s Palestine because I suspect that it tells a different side of the story than we normally hear in the United States.

That this book has sparked much uproar makes me think that this is an important book to read — whether or not it is accurate.

Click here to view the table of contents or click here to read an excerpt.

Audio Book – Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama

Today I listened to my first audio book (which I borrowed from the library last week on a whim): Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama and read by the author.

Click here to read Paul Watkins’s New York Times review of the first edition of this book “A Promise of Redemption” published August 6, 1995 or click here to read the Introduction to the 2004 edition.

Obama’s lyrical speech and talent with voices won him a spoken word Grammy in 2006 for the audio book version of Dreams from My Father and another Grammy in 2008 for the audio book edition of The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (beating out Bill Clinton for his audio book Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World and Jimmy Carter for his audio book Sunday Mornings in Plains: Bringing Peace to a Changing World).

While I prefer to read my books, listening to Dreams from My Father has made me appreciate audio books. It’s quite a different experience to hear an author read his or her book.

I’m hopeful that I’ll also enjoy listening to David McCullough’s 1776!