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The Unfinished Presidency:
Jimmy Carter isn't the first American president to become more popular after leaving the Oval Office than when he served in it; even Richard Nixon managed a semi-rehabilitation in the post-Watergate years. Yet perhaps no ex-president has reversed his fortunes so completely as Carter, whose approval rating has done nothing but improve since he lost his 1980 reelection bid. Many Americans admire Carter for his work building homes in the United States with the group Habitat for Humanity, but the 39th president is known and respected throughout the world for attempting to negotiate peace in trouble spots such as Haiti, North Korea, and the Middle East. "Carter," writes Douglas Brinkley, "has become a true citizen of the world." Noteworthy sections of this unauthorized biography (which benefits from lengthy interviews with its subject) include the story of how Carter worked relentlessly to undermine President Bush in the days leading up to the Persian Gulf War, as well as Carter's difficult relations with President Clinton. Also, Brinkley appreciates, and treats seriously, Carter's religious faith in a way many previous analysts have not. An excellent portrait of a complicated man. --John J. Miller [via]