The blog of Bill Gates
gatesnotes
The blog of Bill Gates

Jimmy Carter’s Full Life

Sign In
 
My Profile & Settings
Log out
GO
Your search for "", with selected filters, does not match any posts. Please try again with a different search term or reset filters.

Popular searches include: Books, Malaria, and Future of Food.
RELATED ARTICLES ON
Logout:


Become a Gates Notes Insider
- or - Sign up with email
This email is already registered. Enter a new email, try signing in or retrieve your password
Send me updates from Bill Gates
Sign Up
Join the Gates Notes community to access exclusive content, comment on stories, subscribe to your favorite topics and more. We will never share or spam your email address. For more information see our Sign Up FAQ. By clicking "Sign Up" you agree to the Gates Notes Terms of Use / Privacy Policy.
Account Settings
VIEW & EDIT PROFILE
Your Information
First name
Last name
Save
Cancel
Email address
This email is already registered
Save
Cancel
Please verify email address. Click verification link sent to this email address or resend verification email.
Password
Save
Cancel
Send me updates from Bill Gates
You must provide an email
Your Interests
Saving Lives
Energy Innovation
Improving Education
Philanthropy
Book Reviews
About Bill Gates
Deactivate Account
Click the link below to begin the account deactivation process. Deactivate account If you want to permanently delete your account and remove its content, please send us a request here.
Ok
Gates Notes Insider Sign Up FAQ

Q. How do I create a Gates Notes account?

A. There are three ways you can create a Gates Notes account:

  • Sign up with Facebook. We’ll never post to your Facebook account without your permission.
  • Sign up with Twitter. We’ll never post to your Twitter account without your permission.
  • Sign up with your email. Enter your email address during sign up. We’ll email you a link for verification.

Q. Will you ever post to my Facebook or Twitter accounts without my permission?

A. No, never.

Q. How do I sign up to receive email communications from my Gates Notes account?

A. In Account Settings, click the toggle switch next to “Send me updates from Bill Gates.”

Q. How will you use the Interests I select in Account Settings?

A. We will use them to choose the Suggested Reads that appear on your profile page.

Forgot your password?
This email is already registered. Enter a new email, try signing in or retrieve your password
Reset Password
Change your header photo
your image
 
Change
your image
Uh Oh!

The image you are trying to upload is either too big or is an unacceptable format. Please upload a .jpg or .png image that is under 25MB.

Ok
First name
Last name
Enter a first and last name. For example, "Richard Feynman"
Bio
0/160 characters
Edit Profile
Account Settings
Save
Cancel
Suggested Reads
Reset your password.
Set New Password
Your password has been reset. You will now be redirected to the sign in page, or you can click here
Ok
Get emails from Bill Gates
Send me updates from Bill
You must provide an email
This email is already registered
Continue
We will never share or spam your email address. For more information see our Sign Up FAQ. By clicking "Continue" you agree to the Gates Notes Terms of Use / Privacy Policy.
 
your image
Uh Oh!
The image you are trying to upload is either too big or is an unacceptable format. Please upload a .jpg or .png image that is under 25MB.
Ok
Welcome FirstName!
You are now a Gates Notes Insider
Update Your Profile Information
First name
Last name
Save
Cancel
Email address
This email is already registered
Save
Cancel
Please verify email address. Click verification link sent to this email address or resend verification email.
Send me updates from Bill Gates
You must provide an email
Select Your Interests
Saving Lives
Energy Innovation
Improving Education
Philanthropy
Book Reviews
About Bill Gates
Continue
Confirm
Are you sure you want to
deactivate your account?
Deactivating your account will unsubscribe you from Gates Notes emails, and will remove your profile and account information from public view on the Gates Notes. Please allow for 24 hours for the deactivation to fully process. You can sign back in at any time to reactivate your account and restore its content.
Deactivate My Acccount
Go Back
Your Gates Notes account has been deactivated.
Come back anytime.
Welcome back
In order to unsubscribe you will need to sign-in to your Gates Notes Insider account
Once signed in just go to your Account Settings page and set your subscription options as desired.
Sign In
Request account deletion
We’re sorry to see you go. Your request may take a few days to process; we want to double check things before hitting the big red button. Requesting an account deletion will permanently remove all of your profile content. If you’ve changed your mind about deleting your account, you can always hit cancel and deactivate instead.
Submit
Cancel
Thank You! Your request has been sent
Become a Gates Notes Insider for access to exclusive content and personalized reading suggestions
Sign up to receive occasional updates from the Gates Notes
Sign Up
Privacy Policy
Please complete your account verification. Resend verification email.
This verification token has expired.
Your email address has been verified. Update my profile.
Your account has been deactivated. Sign up to re-activate your account.
View all newsletters in the newsletter archive
You are now unsubscribed from receiving emails.
Sorry, we were unable to unsubscribe you at this time.
The blog of Bill Gates
Jimmy Carter’s Full Life
 
Hello, . . My Profile & Settings
Log out
FOLLOW ME
It looks like you're using an older version of Internet Explorer which may not display all the features on this site. Upgrade Now » close
Good Book, Great Man

Jimmy Carter’s Full Life

Last week, Jimmy Carter made a surprise appearance at our foundation’s annual employee meeting. His visit was a huge honor for all of us. I think he was an even bigger hit with our colleagues than Bono, who stopped by a few years ago. They particularly loved hearing him talk about Rosalynn, his wife of over 70 years. According to the former President, the secret to their incredible love story is simple: give each other space, and never go to bed angry. Our team soaked up all the insights he had to offer on love, global health, and many other topics. 

A Full Life book review

For years our foundation has worked closely with the Carter Center in the fight against Guinea worm disease, onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, and many other diseases. Melinda and I recently had a chance to spend an evening with Jimmy and Rosalynn at their home, in Plains, Georgia. At age 92, and after a scary battle with malignant melanoma, President Carter is as sharp as ever. Mrs. Carter, who is also super smart, is still her husband’s closest friend and advisor.

“Carter’s storytelling is simple and elegant, just like the wood furniture he has made by hand all his life.”

In preparation for our trip to Plains, I read President Carter’s newest book, A Full Life. The book would have been a worthwhile read under any circumstances. At less than 250 pages, it’s a quick, condensed tour of Carter’s fascinating life. His storytelling is simple and elegant, just like the wood furniture Carter has made by hand all his life.

Although most of the stories come from previous decades, A Full Life feels timely in an era when the public’s confidence in national political figures and institutions is low. It is true that President Carter made unforced errors during his time in office. But when you read this book and have a chance to meet him in person, you can’t help but conclude that Carter is a brave, thoughtful, disciplined leader who understands the world at a remarkable level and who has improved the lives of billions of people through his advocacy for human rights and global health.

I loved reading about Carter’s improbable rise to the world’s highest office. He spent his early years in rural Georgia, in a small Sears Roebuck house without running water, electricity, or insulation. His highest aspiration was to become a plowman on his family’s farm.

His first exposure to the wider world came through his service in the U.S. Navy. He earned a student appointment at the U.S. Naval Academy during World War II, served as an officer on submarines during the Korean War, and went on to develop advanced nuclear subs. Despite being on a fast track in the Navy, Carter decided to return home to Georgia to run the family farm after his father’s passing—a move that made Rosalynn furious.

In retrospect, it makes sense that Carter would want to follow in his dad’s footsteps. James Earl Carter was a strict man who rarely gave his son praise, but Jimmy revered him. This close father-son relationship shaped Jimmy’s whole life.

To earn his father’s approval, Jimmy became a Jack of all trades and a master of most. He became skilled at everything from farming to forestry, firefighting to furniture making, differential calculus to nuclear physics. (Being a master of so many things can also have a downside. As president, he was often criticized for micromanaging, to the point of wanting to oversee the schedule for the White House tennis court.)

Perhaps more than anything else, James modeled for his son a commitment to service. While running his farm and doing significant manual labor himself, James served in the Georgia legislature, on the local board of education, on the local hospital authority, and in many other volunteer posts. These civic values are what led the younger Carter to run for the Georgia Senate in 1962. He’s lucky he had Rosalynn by his side in that race. She had great political instincts and helped him rise all the way to the White House over the subsequent 14 years.

Even though Carter had already written more than two dozen books before this one, he somehow managed to save some great anecdotes for this book. I’ll share two of my favorites:

Carter salvaged the Camp David Accords with a small human gesture. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin was furious with Carter, and the negotiations were just about to get called off, when Carter went to Begin’s cabin and gave him photographs with personal inscriptions for each of Begin’s eight grandchildren. After reading the notes, Begin “had a choked voice, and tears were running down his cheeks. I was also emotional, and he asked me to have a seat. After a few minutes, we agreed to try once more.” The rest, as they say, is history.

During the Iran Hostage Crisis, the CIA managed to sneak agents into Tehran with false German passports. One agent was caught by customs officials. “Something is wrong with your passport,” the official said. “This is the first time I’ve seen a German document that used a middle initial instead of a full name. Your name is given as Josef H. Schmidt.” The agent saved his skin with a brilliant response: “Well, when I was born my given middle name was Hitler, and I have received special permission not to use it.”

A Full Life is a good read about a great man. It made me think of David Brooks’s book The Road to Character and its insights about the values that give life purpose. As Brooks explains, the Book of Genesis contains two very different versions of Adam. “Adam I is the career-oriented, ambitious side of our nature,” Brooks writes. “He wants to have high status and win victories.” Adam II, in contrast, “wants to have a serene inner character, a quiet but solid sense of right and wrong—not only to do good, but to be good.” Jimmy Carter brought Adam II to the fore. 

Become a Gates Notes Insider for access to exclusive content and personalized reading suggestions

Read previous versions of the Annual Letter

Filed Under

Discussion
comments powered by Disqus