James Earl Carter, Jr. -- known to his family and the world as Jimmy -- was born in the rural southwest Georgia community of Plains on October 1, 1924, the son of a farmer and a registered nurse. In 1976 he was elected president of the United States, and since leaving office in 1981 he has authored than two dozen books on a wide range of subjects: a number of political and personal memoirs, several books on aging, family and religious faith, a novel of the American Revolution, a volume of his own original poetry, as well as a children's storybook which he co-authored with his daughter, Amy).
Educated in the Sumter County public school system, Jimmy Carter went to college at Georgia Southwestern College and the Georgia Institute of Technology then attended the United States Naval Academy, from which he graduated in 1946. That same year he married Rosalyn Smith, the future first lady of the United States. After graduating from the Naval Academy, Carter served as a submariner, rising to the rank of lieutenant and serving as senior officer of the pre-commissioning crew of U.S.S. Seawolf, a nuclear submarine.
Carter resigned his naval commission in 1953, after the death of his father, James Earl Carter, Sr. He took over the family farm and became involved with local government in Sumter County. Moving beyond local politics, Carter was elected to the Georgia state senate in 1962 and 1964, and became governor in 1970. Elected the 39th United States president in 1976, Carter served one term and left office in January 1981.
After leaving the Oval Office, Jimmy Carter has led the most active retirement of any ex-president, working as an international mediator and a campaigner for world health, building dozens of Habitat for Humanity houses with his wife Rosalyn, teaching Sunday School, and directing the Carter Center, the nongovernmental, not-for-profit organization he and his wife founded in 1982. On December 10, 2002, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded Carter the Nobel Peace Prize "for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights and to promote economic and social development."
As one would expect, a number of Carter's books center upon his political career and his national and international political ideas, and his output generally spans the years following his presidency. However his literary career actually began even before he entered the White House. To introduce his quest for the presidency to America, Carter in 1975 published the autobiographical Why Not The Best? from which "no reader failed to come away . with an appreciation of the dogged determination and single-mindedness that was Carter's great strength," wrote longtime New York Times national political correspondent Adam Clymer. While serving as president, Carter published A Government As Good As Its People, a primer of his administration's political stance on crime, poverty, nuclear energy, foreign policy, and human rights. After he left the White House, his 1982 presidential memoir Keeping Faith was praised for its having achieved what few presidential memoirs do - a compelling narrative written in an authentic, non-ghostwritten voice. In Turning Point: A Candidate, a State, and a Nation Come of Age (1992) , he recalled his first political campaign, a 1962 run for the Georgia senate, and in Beyond the White House: Waging Peace, Fighting Disease, Building Hope (2008), Carter turned to his central postpresidential career and reviewed the accomplishments of the Carter Center's first twenty-five years.
Perhaps the single greatest accomplishment of Jimmy Carter's presidency was the 1978 Camp David Accords, and in addition to his continuing efforts as an independent observer and mediator in the Middle East, he has written three books on the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Blood of Abraham: Insights into the Middle East (1985) is his account of the Camp David talks. In Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid (2006) Carter argues that Israel's control and colonization of Palestinian land constitutes "a system of apartheid, with two peoples occupying the same land, but completely separated from each other, with Israelis totally dominant and suppressing violence by depriving Palestinians of their basic human rights." Carter's book tour for Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid was documented by director Jonathan Demme in the 2007 documentary, "Jimmy Carter: Man from Plains." And in January 2009 Carter further pressed his case for a peaceful two-state solution to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land: A Plan That Will Work.
Jimmy Carter's literary career has touched on personal as well as political topics. In books such Sharing Good Times (2005), Christmas in Plains: Memories (2001) and An Hour Before Daylight: Memories of a Rural Boyhood (2001), Carter both gives insight into his own background and the influential events of his youth and documents a way of life in the rural South that has been lost to social and technological advances. In A Remarkable Mother (2008) Carter recounts the story of his mother, "Miss Lillian," and her extraordinary life as nurse, mother, businesswoman, Peace Corps volunteer and unofficial "goodwill ambassador" to the world during the Carter presidency.
In his introduction to The Best American Spiritual Writing (2008) Carter speaks of writing as "a way to explore the mysteries of the soul and the soul's relationship with God." His own book-length essay on spiritual matters, Living Faith (1997), is drawn from his lifelong experiences teaching Sunday School, and in Sources of Strength: Meditations on Scripture for Daily Living (1998) he produced a companion volume of his favorite Bible verses and commentary.
In Everything to Gain: Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life (co-written with Rosalyn Carter) and The Virtues of Aging (1998), Carter addresses the challenges and rewards of retirement and growing older. At the other end of the spectrum of audience age, Talking Peace: A Vision for the Next Generation (1993) is Carter's introductory book about international relations and diplomacy for young people, and The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleejer (1996), is a children's story book by Carter illustrated by his daughter, Amy (who also illustrated Christmas in Plains).
The author of a volume of poetry, Always a Reckoning (1995) and a novel, The Hornet's Nest (2003) about the Revolutionary War in Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas, Carter is a two-time Georgia Author of the Year recipient, for The Virtues of Aging and Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis (2005). Our Endangered Values also received the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences' "Best Spoken Word" Grammy Award for Carter's reading of his 2006 book-length essay on the critical issues of war, environmental negligence, civil liberties, the rich-poor divide, and the separation of church and state.
White House Diary, the edited and annotated diary the president kept during his tenure as commander-in-chief, was published in September 2010. In 2011, the publication of Through the Year with Jimmy Carter: 366 Daily Meditations from the 39th President brought to print three decades of Bible lessons Carter delivered to Sunday school classes in Plains, Georgia and Washington, D.C. In his 2014 work, A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power, Carter focused his attention on what he calls "the most serious and unaddressed worldwide challenge" of our time - the discrimination and abuse of women and girls.
The following titles are held by the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library:
A Remarkable Mother. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008.
Addresses of Jimmy Carter (James Earl Carter), Governor of Georgia, 1971-1975. Atlanta: Georgia Dept. of Archives and History, 1975.
Always a Reckoning and Other Poems. New York: Times Books, 1995.
An Hour before Daylight: Memories of a Rural Boyhood. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.
An Outdoor Journal. New York: Bantam Books, 1988.
An Outdoor Journal: Adventures and Reflections. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1994.
Atlanta : The Right Kind of Courage. Memphis: Towery Publishers, 2000.
Beyond the White House: Waging Peace, Fighting Disease, Building Hope. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007.
Beyond the White House: Waging Peace, Fighting Disease, Building Hope. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2008.
A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014.
Christmas in Plains: Memories. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.
Everything to Gain: Making the Most of Your Life. New York: Random House, 1987.
Everything to Gain: Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1995.
Farewell Address of President Jimmy Carter, January 14, 1981. Winston-Salem, NC: Palaemon Press, 1981.
A Government as Good as Its People: Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1996.
Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President. Fayetteville: Toronto ; New York : Bantam Books, 1982.
Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 1995.
Living Faith. New York: Times Books, 1996.
Negotiation the Alternative to Hostility. Macon: Mercer University Press, 1984.
Our Endangered Values: America 's Moral Crisis. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2005.
Palestine: Peace not Apartheid. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006.
Por Que Nao o Melhor? [Why Not the Best? Portuguese.] Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1976.
Sharing Good Times. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2004.
Sources of Strength: Meditations on Scripture for a Living Faith. New York: Times Books, 1997.
The Blood of Abraham. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1985.
The Blood of Abraham: Insights into the Middle East. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1993.
The Blood of Abraham. 3rd ed. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2007.
The Hornet's Nest: a Novel of the Revolutionary War. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003.
The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleejer. New York: Times Books, 1996.
The Nobel Peace Prize Lecture: Delivered in Oslo on the 10th of December, 2002.. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002.
The Personal Beliefs of Jimmy Carter. [Includes texts of Living Faith and Sources of Strength: Meditations on Scripture for Daily Living] New York: Three Rivers Press, 2002.
Turning Point: a Candidate, A State, and a Nation Come of Age. New York: Times Books, 1992.
As Virtudes de Envelhecer. [Virtues of Aging. Portuguese] Rio de Janeiro: Rocco, 2002.
We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land: A Plan That Will Work. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009.
White House Diary. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2010.
Why Not the Best? Nashville: Broadman Press, 1975.
Why Not the Best? New York: Bantam Books, 1976.
Why Not the Best? Eastbourne, England, UK: Kingsway, 1977.
Why Not the Best? The First Fifty Years. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1996.
The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum is the official repository of Jimmy Carter's papers.