The definitive history of the Carter Administration from the man who participated in its surprising number of accomplishments—drawing on his extensive and never-before-seen notes.
Stuart Eizenstat was at Jimmy Carter’s side from his political rise in Georgia through four years in the White House, where he served as Chief Domestic Policy Adviser. He was directly involved in all domestic and economic decisions as well as in many foreign policy ones. Famous for the legal pads he took to every meeting, he draws on more than 5,000 pages of notes and 350 interviews of all the major figures of the time, to write the comprehensive history of an underappreciated president—and to give an intimate view on how the presidency works.
Eizenstat reveals the grueling negotiations behind Carter’s peace between Israel and Egypt, what led to the return of the Panama Canal, and how Carter made human rights a presidential imperative. He follows Carter’s passing of America’s first comprehensive energy policy, and his deregulation of the oil, gas, transportation, and communications industries. And he details the creation of the modern vice-presidency.
Eizenstat also details Carter’s many missteps, including the Iranian Hostage Crisis, because Carter’s desire to do the right thing, not the political thing, often hurt him and alienated Congress. His willingness to tackle intractable problems, however, led to major, long-lasting accomplishments.
This major work of history shows first-hand where Carter succeeded, where he failed, and how he set up many successes of later presidents.
About the Author
STUART E. EIZENSTAT was the chief White House domestic policy adviser to President Jimmy Carter and served as the United States Ambassador to the European Union from 1993 to 1996 and as the United States Deputy Secretary of the Treasury from 1999 to 2001.
Stuart is the author of Imperfect Justice and President Carter.
"A comprehensive and persuasive account of Carter’s presidency that stands far above the familiar confessional and reveal-all accounts by former White House officials we are accustomed to reading. ... Eizenstat offers a compelling narrative filled with colorful stories ... Political junkies and presidential-history buffs will love this book. Eizenstat has succeeded in showing that the Carter presidency had a huge impact on American political life." —The Washington Post
"Eizenstat has produced a thoughtful, measured and compelling account that bemoans Carter’s weaknesses even as it extols his strengths. It fills a gaping void on the presidential bookshelf. Until now, there has never been a satisfying full-length history of [Carter's] presidency. Eizenstat closes that gap." —The New York Times
"Eizenstat’s account is fascinating: detailed, intimate, even page-turning... From Stuart Eizenstat, you can learn a great deal — about Carter, sure, but also about the presidency at large." —The National Review
"Rich and fascinating" —Salon
"It's nearly 1,000 pages long, but...it moves like a rocket, as does he, with seamless writing and exhaustive detail, interviews with everybody and anybody." —Neil Cavuto, Fox News
"Definitive book on Carter" —The New Republic
"It’s clearly, even entertainingly written and worth reading even if you’re not a Carter fan or a student of modern American history or political science. ... To say 'President Carter' is the definitive history of the administration is an understatement." —Atlanta Jewish Times
"Astonishing and instructive" —The Weekly Standard
"An astute, often shocking, behind-the-scenes chronicle." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"An invaluable insider's perspective...this comprehensive, unflinching narrative and analytical treatment of Carter is essential for a new evaluation of an earnest, often exasperating, yet important figure in late 20th-century U.S. history." —Library Journal (starred review)
"Eizenstat’s taut behind-the-scenes narrative gives readers unexpected reasons to appreciate Carter’s stunning accomplishment in negotiating peace between Egypt and Israel. A compelling reassessment of an oft-maligned chief executive." —Booklist (starred review)
"President Carter: The White House Years adds tremendously to the growing historiography of the Carter presidency and deserves consideration as the seminal text for historians seeking to understand fully the tumultuous years of 1977-1981. A comprehensive and thorough chronicle of Jimmy Carter's presidency." —Shelf Awareness
"Stuart Eizenstat’s book is something we rarely see — an illuminating, vital and elegant combination of White House insider’s memoir and well-researched history. His excellent work shows us important new dimensions of Jimmy Carter and his Presidency and deserves to be widely read.”
—Michael Beschloss, NBC News Presidential Historian and New York Times bestselling author of The Conquerors
"Stuart Eizenstat has produced a knowing and insightful reassessment of President Carter's administration from the perspective of a clear-eyed insider. Based on his own experiences and hundreds of interviews, he shows how Carter's moral tone and under-appreciated accomplishments offer valuable lessons for our times. It's an important contribution to history."
—Walter Isaacson, New York Times bestselling author of The Innovators and Steve Jobs
"'People never did understand me and still don't,' Jimmy Carter has said. Stuart Eizenstat disproves the claim in this ultimate insider's account of our 39th President, which does for Carter what Robert Sherwood did for FDR, and Ted Sorensen for JFK. His access equaled by his objectivity, Eizenstat places the first New Democrat in historical perspective as a self-confident moralist impatient with incrementalism, uncomfortable with Washington's status quo and the politicians who defer to it. Clearly more consequential, and legislatively successful, than it appears in popular memory, Carter's presidency put a lasting stamp on energy and environmental policy, human rights and the tortuous pursuit of peace in the Middle East. Eizenstat makes it all matter in this highly readable narrative forty years in the making, and well worth the wait."
—Richard Norton Smith, Pulitzer Prize finalist for Thomas E. Dewey and His Times
“Stuart Eizenstat's beautifully written book will become an essential part of our understanding of the Jimmy Carter presidency and of the history of America in the 1970s. No one has described and analyzed the Carter White House and public challenges of the seventies more thoroughly and fairly. This is judicious history every professional historian would be proud to call their own.”
—Robert Dallek, #1 New York Times bestselling author of An Unfinished Life and Pulitzer Prize for History finalist for Nixon and Kissinger
"Stuart Eizenstat's President Carter: The White House Years is an epic biography and first-class administrative history of our vastly underrated 39th president. Such Carter accomplishments as Camp David, the Panama Canal Treaty, Alaska Lands and formal recognition of China pile up in a dramatic fashion. The amount of new documentary evidence unearthed by Eizenstat is staggering. A landmark achievement!"
—Douglas Brinkley, CNN Historian and author of The Unfinished Presidency: Jimmy Carter's Journey Beyond the White House
"Jimmy Carter was one of the most intriguing, and often-times misunderstood, presidents in U.S. history. President Carter: The White House Years, written by Stuart Eizenstat, the Carter Administration’s chief domestic policy adviser, provides an in-depth and inside look at the successes and failures of our nation’s 39th President. It is a compelling read for all interested in this period of American history."
—James A. Baker, III, Secretary of State under President George H.W. Bush, Secretary of the Treasury under President Ronald Reagan, and White House Chief of Staff to Presidents George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan
"History may judge Jimmy Carter guilty of too much humanity, but he lacked neither courage, nor conviction, nor, in the final analysis, real and lasting achievements. This is an important and long overdue assessment."
—Ted Koppel, broadcast journalist, former anchor of ABC's Nightline
"Stuart Eizenstat has poured heart and soul, reams of contemporaneous notes, lengthy interviews, and personal reflections into the definitive saga of Jimmy Carter’s presidency, with all its shining promise of a new beginning to its ultimate disappointment in the sands of the Middle East. I’m glad he has done so. It’s a fascinating read about life in the White House, day by day, week by week, called upon to respond to crises domestic and international, all complicated by political differences in the President’s own party....Eizenstat’s research and recollections remind us that the 'man from Georgia' was also a man of principle and substance, with substantial accomplishments in office."
—Paul Volcker, Chairman of the Federal Reserve under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan
"An admiring but also very frank account of Jimmy Carter’s presidency by the ultimate insider, Stuart Eizenstat. He’s honest about Carter’s weaknesses, as well as his strengths, and he reveals some details that have never been reported before. His summation of 'what ifs' at the end of the book makes haunting reading. This memoir reminds us that during the Carter years, we had a smart, decent but unlucky man in the Oval Office."
—David Ignatius, columnist, The Washington Post
“President Carter is an extraordinary reassessment of the first ‘New Democrat's’ presidency, combining Stu's recognized domestic and international policy range and depth with wonderful political, personal, institutional, and societal insights. This book is much more than a well-written and researched history: Stu reminds that Jimmy Carter was the first modern president who ran as an anti-Establishment populist, navigating currents of alienation that have continued to swirl around American politics."
—Robert B. Zoellick, former President of the World Bank, US Trade Representative, and Deputy Secretary of State
"Jimmy Carter may well be due for a revisionist wave. If so, Stu Eizenstat's important book will be seen as its cutting edge. As anyone who knows him would expect, Eizenstat’s book is tough-minded, thorough and thoughtful in making the case for a new view of the Carter Presidency. It deserves the close attention of anyone concerned with American history or politics."
—Larry Summers, Secretary of the Treasury under President Clinton and former chairman of President Obama's National Economic Council
"With his President Carter: the White House Years, Stuart Eizenstat has delivered a masterpiece – presidential biography as it should be written. Eizenstat’s rich narrative is both endearing and unforgiving, tracking Carter from the earliest days on the campaign to his final, failed hours office trying to free Iranian hostages. The author delivers all the fly-on-the-wall authenticity of an insider, while at the same time providing the arms-length perspective and historical context of a skilled biographer. This groundbreaking book should prompt a reassessment of one of our least understood commanders-in-chief."
—Fred Kempe, President and CEO of the Atlantic Council, and former Wall Street Journal Bureau Chief in Brussels
"What better time than now for a reevaluation of Jimmy Carter’s presidency? And who better to initiate it than Stuart Eizenstat, Carter’s domestic policy director and one of his top advisors on the Mideast? No apologist, Eizenstat acknowledges Carter’s political weaknesses and studiously avoids excessive claims of greatness. President Carter is thus a first-rate work of analysis and history and a much-needed retrospective on a president who reflected great personal credit on the office he held and the country he served."
—Stanley Cloud, former White House correspondent and Washington Bureau Chief for Time magazine
“Eizenstat has given us a seminal reminder of the kind of president that we need in this dangerous world—and of the contribution a candid insider’s account can give to history’s understanding of a widely misunderstood president. As Eizenstat writes, Jimmy Carter was 'not a great president,' but he was a darned good one and, at the head of a functioning US government, accomplished much more than many others who have filled that post.”
—Douglas Besharov, Norman and Florence Brody Professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy
"If you believe you know the full truth about the Presidency of Jimmy Carter, you’ll think twice after you read Stu Eizenstat’s fascinating, richly researched, insider accounts. Eizenstat has filled in a lot of blanks about the administration he loyally served. While he fully acknowledges major mistakes by Carter and his aides (including himself), the author makes a strong case that Carter’s four years in the Oval Office are due a serious reevaluation, and that Carter achieved far more than he is often credited with in the shorthand style of current history and commentary."
—Larry J. Sabato, professor, founder and director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics
"Stuart Eizenstat has written an important book, a richly detailed account of the events and people of Jimmy Carter’s presidency, which may very well lead to history’s reevaluation of the 39th President."
—Stephen H. Hess, Senior Fellow Emeritus, The Brookings Institution
"An unflinchingly honest, comprehensive description and analysis of Jimmy Carter’s presidency. Eizenstat’s reconstruction of Carter’s term offers detailed treatment of foreign and domestic policy issues, along with intriguing analysis of the politics of it all. He was a participant observer and activist who knew the players well. History benefits, as will scholars and other readers of this crisply written, carefully researched volume."
—Charles O. Jones, Hawkins Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of Wisconsin, Madison
"Stu makes it impossible not to see Carter’s genuine accomplishments at home and abroad and his daring to tackle problems others wouldn’t touch. It is a rare pleasure to read such a fair-minded and truthful book."
—Leslie H. Gelb, President Emeritus, Council on Foreign Relations
"This book provides an important corrective to the history of the Carter administration. Written by one of the president's closest and most influential advisers, it portrays the intricacies of presidential politics in compelling, balanced, and extremely readable prose. The discussion of events leading up to and through the Camp David peace accords is fascinating."
—Stephen J. Wayne, Professor of Government, Georgetown University