I knew very little about Jimmy Carter up until this weekend. Over the past three days, I have become a self-proclaimed Peanut Farmer expert, slash casual fanatic. This is not the first time that I have found myself aboard a speeding political-knowledge train. Every couple of months, recent news stories pique my interest, and I go into curiosity overdrive. At the beginning of the summer, I listened to two Hillary Clinton books on tape, read an additional assessment of her upcoming campaign, and went to an Off-Broadway Clinton-themed musical. (Side note: it was exceptionally amusing, and far surpassed my expectations. An impulse ticket buy, “Clinton the Musical” ended up being my favorite show of the summer.)
After hearing news of Carter’s cancer diagnosis, I took it upon myself to brush up on this single-term president and beloved writer. As my family library is filled to the brim with old-books from the 80’s, I was psyched to find Hamilton Jordan’s book, Crisis: The Last Year of the Carter Presidency.
This wasn’t exactly what I’d been hoping to read, but it ended up being a really interesting recap of the administration’s dealings with the Iranian hostage crisis. For those who enjoyed “Argo,” or want a more sympathetic perspective on Carter’s political demise, Jordan’s book is a great foray into better understanding our 39th President.
Jordan, himself, is a controversial character, often referred to as the “enfant terrible” of Carter’s staff. His agonizing efforts to free the Iranians before the election, and then before Reagan’s inauguration, are difficult to read. It almost seems like Carter, Jordan and the rest of the administration existed on a never-ending treadmill that year– walking constantly, but never moving forward.
Here is an excerpt from Carter’s famous Farewell Address: