His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, A Life

With Jonathan Alter

Join us for a virtual conversation with Jonathan Alter, author of the first full-length biography of Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States and Nobel Prize–winning humanitarian. Alter paints an intimate and surprising portrait of a complex figure with a piercing intelligence, prickly intensity, and biting wit beneath the patented smile.

Growing up in the Jim Crow South, Carter essentially lived in three centuries: his early life on the farm without electricity or running water might as well have been in the 19th; his presidency put him at the center of the 20th; and his efforts on conflict resolution and global health set him on the cutting edge of the 21st.

Drawing on fresh archives and five years of extensive access to Carter and his family, Alter traces how he evolved from a timid, bookish child—raised mostly by a black woman farmhand—into an ambitious naval nuclear engineer writing passionate, never-before-published love letters from sea to his wife and full partner, Rosalynn; a peanut farmer and civic leader whose guilt over staying silent during the Civil Rights Movement helped power his quest for racial justice; an obscure, born-again governor whose brilliant 1976 presidential campaign demolished the racist wing of the Democratic Party; a stubborn outsider who failed politically amid a bad economy and the seizure of American hostages in Iran, but succeeded in engineering peace between Israel and Egypt, advancing environmentalism, moving the government from tokenism to diversity, internationalizing human rights, and normalizing relations with China. After leaving office, Carter worked to eradicate diseases, taught Sunday school, and built houses for the poor into his mid-90s.