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Redeemer by Randall Balmer is a biography of Jimmy Carter from childhood to receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. Balmer is a professor of American Religious History at Dartmouth University. Balmer appears to be reasonably adjective and unsentimental about Carters record as President. Balmer treats the details of Carter’s life succinctly and fairly. Balmer said Carter appointed an unprecedented number of women and minorities to his administration. The author points out that Carter was the only President in modern time that did not send troops into war. Balmer says Carter’s greatest success in the White House was the Camp David accords; bringing peace between Israel and Egypt. The author articulates Carter’s religious beliefs throughout the book. He states Carter followed the 19th Century progressive evangelist who interpreted the prophetic call for justice as a mandate for racial reconciliation and gender equality. The author contrasts this to the modern day evangelist who have become extremely conservative and in most ways the opposite of the 19th century viewpoint. Balmer points out toward the end of the book that Carter left the Southern Baptist Church over this difference in basic philosophy.
Carter brought religion into the national government more directly and intensely than any President before him in the 20th century. Balmer sees this as a redemptive response to the cynicism and venality of the Nixon years, and unquestionably there is some truth to that viewpoint. Balmer does indicate that Carter was his own worst enemy: self-righteous, humorless, and haughtily and aloof. Balmer says Carter never understood how to talk to the American people illustrated by his July 1979 address to the nation “Crisis of Confidence” speech. Balmer sets himself a clear task in the biography: to examine how faith influences the career of a man and to explain when an evangelical President fell out of step with voters so that a divorced Hollywood actor handily defeated him four years later. He fulfilled his task in an interesting an easily readable manner.
Balmer says Carter has done his best work since he left the Presidency, under the aegis of the Carter Center he and Rosalynn have become world-renowned humanitarians and fighters for women rights. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. James Lurie did a good job narrating the book.
6 of 8 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
Interesting bio of one of the more maligned Presidents of recent history. Balmer offers a sympathetic portrait of Carter, drawing attention to his multitude of achievements while underscoring well known on the record failings. For any Carter detractors, this book won't likely make them fans but hopefully would at least ameliorate the exaggerated negativity which has come to characterize the Carter presidency. As a bio, I would rate this only so so - it is really about a ten thousand foot overview of the man and his presidency - I would have preferred more depth and detail. What makes this compelling however is Balmer's assertion that the rise of Carter paralleled the rise of the Evangelical voting block, something from which he initially benefitted before they abandoned him. I found this pretty persuasive. On this basis, I found it well worth the read, but will still seek out a more comprehensive and definitive Carter bio at some later point.
What about James Lurie’s performance did you like?
No complaints here. Enjoyed the narration.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful