The Unfinished Presidency Essay - Critical Essays

Douglas Brinkley

The Unfinished Presidency

Douglas Brinkley writes that “nothing about the White House so became [Jimmy] Carter as his having left it.” Brinkley’s THE UNFINISHED PRESIDENCY: JIMMY CARTER’S JOURNEY BEYOND THE WHITE HOUSE provides vivid testimony to back up this statement. Thanks to copious research and access to both Carter’s personal papers and the ex-president himself, Brinkley is able to recount in astonishing detail Carter’s tireless work in the name of human rights. “Human rights,” the reader learns, for Jimmy Carter includes everything from an individual’s need for clean water, food, and adequate shelter to the right to vote and live in peace. Brinkley points out that Carter’s motivation is not fame, fortune, or re-entry into the political arena, but his profound Christian faith and dedication to Jesus Christ. He does his work, then, very much with a missionary purpose.

Among the many Carter endeavors of which Brinkley writes are the ex-president’s participation in Habitat for Humanity, his work to eradicate guinea worm disease and river blindness in various countries, and his efforts to transform sub-Saharan Africa through his Global 2000 organization. Also documented are Carter’s work as a monitor of crucial democratic elections around the world, his role as dissident voice during the Reagan administration, and his work as negotiator during times of crisis in North Korea, Bosnia, and Haiti. Of particular note is Carter’s work for peace in the Middle East.

Carter’s remarkable list of accomplishments since leaving the White House, presented in engaging, behind-the-scenes fashion by author Brinkley, make for a fascinating, even inspiring read.

Sources for Further Study

Booklist. XCIV, May 15, 1998, p. 1590.

Foreign Affairs. LXXVII, September, 1998, p. 152.

Library Journal. CXXIII, May 15, 1998, p. 99.

Los Angeles Times Book Review. July 5, 1998, p. 1.

The New Leader. LXXXI, June 29, 1998, p. 5.

The New York Times Book Review. CIII, June 7, 1998, p. 11.

Newsweek. CXXXI, May 4, 1998, p. 4.

Publishers Weekly. CCXLV, April 27, 1998, p. 54.

Time. CLI, May 11, 1998, p. 79.

The Washington Post Book World. XXVIII, August 2, 1998, p. 8.