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The Outlier: The Unfinished Presidency of Jimmy Carter

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“Important . . . [a] landmark presidential biography . . . Bird is able to build a persuasive case that the Carter presidency deserves this new look.”—The New York Times Book Review

An essential re-evaluation of the complex triumphs and tragedies of Jimmy Carter’s presidential legacy—from the expert biographer and Pulitzer Prize–winning co-author of American Prometheus

Four decades after Ronald Reagan’s landslide win in 1980, Jimmy Carter’s one-term presidency is often labeled a failure; indeed, many Americans view Carter as the only ex-president to have used the White House as a stepping-stone to greater achievements. But in retrospect the Carter political odyssey is a rich and human story, marked by both formidable accomplishments and painful political adversity. In this deeply researched, brilliantly written account, Pulitzer Prize–winning biographer Kai Bird expertly unfolds the Carter saga as a tragic tipping point in American history.

As president, Carter was not merely an outsider; he was an outlier. He was the only president in a century to grow up in the heart of the Deep South, and his born-again Christianity made him the most openly religious president in memory. This outlier brought to the White House a rare mix of humility, candor, and unnerving self-confidence that neither Washington nor America was ready to embrace. Decades before today’s public reckoning with the vast gulf between America’s ethos and its actions, Carter looked out on a nation torn by race and demoralized by Watergate and Vietnam and prescribed a radical self-examination from which voters recoiled. The cost of his unshakable belief in doing the right thing would be losing his re-election bid—and witnessing the ascendance of Reagan.

In these remarkable pages, Bird traces the arc of Carter’s administration, from his aggressive domestic agenda to his controversial foreign policy record, taking readers inside the Oval Office and through Carter’s battles with both a political establishment and a Washington press corps that proved as adversarial as any foreign power. Bird shows how issues still hotly debated today—from national health care to growing inequality and racism to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—burned at the heart of Carter’s America, and consumed a president who found a moral duty in solving them.

Drawing on interviews with Carter and members of his administration and recently declassified documents, Bird delivers a profound, clear-eyed evaluation of a leader whose legacy has been deeply misunderstood. The Outlier is the definitive account of an enigmatic presidency—both as it really happened and as it is remembered in the American consciousness.


From the Publisher

n 1946, Naval Academy ensign Carter married Rosalynn Smith in Plains, Georgia.

n 1946, Naval Academy ensign Carter married Rosalynn Smith in Plains, Georgia.

President Carter, wearing a cardigan, about to give his first speech on the growing energy crisis.

President Carter, wearing a cardigan, about to give his first speech on the growing energy crisis.

photo of Lt. Carter and Captain Hyman G. Rickover

photo of Lt. Carter and Captain Hyman G. Rickover

In 1946, Naval Academy ensign Carter married Rosalynn Smith in Plains, Georgia.

President Carter, wearing a cardigan, about to give his first speech on the growing energy crisis.

Lt. Carter became a submariner, studied nuclear physics, and served under Captain Hyman G. Rickover (LEFT, with then President Carter)

photo of President Carter, Amy (age nine), and First Lady Rosalynn Carter in the White House.

photo of President Carter, Amy (age nine), and First Lady Rosalynn Carter in the White House.

photo of Carter nominated Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the appellate court.

photo of Carter nominated Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the appellate court.

photo of President Carter greeting a child while on a visit to Nepal in 2008.

photo of President Carter greeting a child while on a visit to Nepal in 2008.

President Carter, Amy (age nine), and First Lady Rosalynn Carter in the White House.

Carter nominated Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the appellate court.

Former President Carter greeting a child while on an election-monitoring visit to Nepal in 2008.

Publisher‏:‎Crown (June 15, 2021)
Language‏:‎English
Hardcover‏:‎784 pages
ISBN-10‏:‎0451495233
ISBN-13‏:‎978-0451495235
Item Weight‏:‎2.47 pounds
Dimensions‏:‎6.39 x 1.55 x 9.52 inches

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The Outlier: The Unfinished Presidency of Jimmy Carter

$27.49

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