Picks and Pans Review: Jimmy Carter: a Character Portrait

updated 04/07/1980 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/07/1980 01:00AM

by Bruce Mazlish and Edwin Diamond

Mazlish is the MIT professor whose Nixon and Kissinger "psychohistory" studies sparked considerable debate about how politicians' private lives affect their performances in office. This volume, with journalist Diamond, is far more sympathetic. The authors identify five themes in Carter's life: his need to stand apart even as he seeks to belong; his desire to win; his self-confidence; his self-control, and his ability to reconcile conflicts in his personality. Much of Carter's motivation, they theorize, comes from a desire to earn, posthumously, the respect of his father, who used to call little Jimmy "Hot Shot." There are peculiar omissions. On the jacket is a picture of the 1979 road race during which the President collapsed, but the incident is not discussed in the text; neither are Carter's emotions about the Kennedys, surely an item of curiosity. Still, the book is provocative, even if it leads to the not encouraging conclusion that a crucial prerequisite to becoming President is wanting the job desperately. (Simon and Schuster, $11.95)

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