The Presidency of James Earl Carter, Jr.

Second Edition, Revised

Burton I. Kaufman and Scott Kaufman

He has been called America's greatest ex-president, a man who lost the White House after one term but went on to become a respected spokesman for peace and human rights.

Burton Kaufman's book on the Carter years was hailed as the best account of his administration. This new edition probes more deeply into Jimmy Carter's approach to the presidency and the issues that he faced, placing his tenure in that office more squarely in the context of the fundamental changes taking place in America while he served. It features more information on his foreign and environmental policies and expanded coverage of his personal background-both his upbringing and naval career-along with insights into his wife's activist role.

“A welcome addition to the literature of the Carter Presidency.

—Illinois Historical Journal

“A thoughtful and provocative study.

—Journal of Southern History
See all reviews...

Drawing on Carter's previously unavailable Handwriting File, as well as on new oral histories and Carter's own books, Burton and Scott Kaufman show the ways in which Carter had the opportunity—but failed—to be a successful transitional president for the Democrats. They argue that by the fall of 1978 he had become a more effective leader than during the first part of his presidency but could not undo his earlier mistakes and continued to make serious errors of political judgment.

Weighing achievements such as the Alaska Land Bill with shortcomings such as disarray within the White House and strained relations with Congress, the authors re-examine the world events that shaped Carter's presidency, from Koreagate and the Cuban boatlift to the Camp David accords and the Iran hostage crisis. They explore bureaucratic infighting over his human rights policies, describing how the administration's position changed with greater emphasis on security issues after 1979; they also examine the issue of arms control in the light of newly opened Soviet archives and argue that the Vance-Brzezinski dispute was more profound than had originally been thought.

In the final analysis, the Kaufmans fault Carter for not crafting a coherent message that would offer the American people a vision on which to build a base of support and assure his success. As his reputation as an ex-president continues to grow, this updated book offers an even better understanding of his White House years.

About the Author

Burton I. Kaufman is former dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies and professor of history at Miami University in Ohio and author of eight other books, including The Korean War: Challenges in Crisis, Credibility, and Command. Scott Kaufman is associate professor of history at Francis Marion University in Florence, South Carolina, and author of two books including Confronting Communism: U.S. and British Policies toward China.

Additional Titles in the American Presidency Series Series