By E. Stanly Godbold, Jr., Oxford University Press, 29.95, 355 pages
Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter: The Georgia Years, 1924-1974 is the first installment of a two-part biography by E. Stanly Godbold, Jr. This book zeros in on the early years of Jimmy Carter and the woman behind, or rather, beside the man. Their fruitful partnership, their faith, and their own progressive views contributed to the seemingly easy transition from their lucrative family business to politics.
The Carters’ rise to the Governor’s mansion is detailed, his strategy being to appeal to both white segregationists and black voters by dodging those heated controversial issues. Carter’s lack of a passionate stand regarding integration during his campaign for Governor is somewhat disappointing, but what he was ultimately striving for is not. His record would serve him well as he overcame the southern image, declaring in 1971, that the time for racial discrimination was over.
Carter’s flaws are acknowledged, but not dwelled upon. Godbold’s approach could be described as favorable, though not necessarily biased. The book takes a look at Rosalynn’s role in Jimmy’s personal and political life, but by no means lives up to its title, which implies equal footing. Thorough research of Georgia’s political scene is evident, though anecdotes that might endear the reader to the subject remain elusive. Rosalynn especially remains a guarded figure.
Reviewed by Alicea Swett