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Jimmy Carter has baffled the public from his first bid for elective office in racially divided rural Georgia through his postpresidential career as a global peacemaker and human rights activist. Is he a moral visionary or a well-meaning but sometimes misguided moralizer? More important, what might America learn about itself by examining the life and legacy of this enigmatic leader?
In Jimmy Carter, American Moralist, the first full-scale biography of Carter since 1980, Kenneth E. Morris shows us that any conclusions about Carter's leadership and its adequacy to his challenges as president cannot ignore the moral quandary that vexed the nation not only under Carter but ever since. Through film and popular music, personality profiles and campaign summaries, poll findings and landmark court decisions, Morris sheds light on the cultural forces that shaped Carter and produced the troubled society that made him president.
Carter's story is the moral story of our times, and in asking not whether Carter is ""good"" but whether he has been good for America, we see the promises and pitfalls of our common values.
Kenneth E. Morris teaches sociology at the University of Georgia.