Tag Archives: range cattle

“A Full Life – Reflections at Ninety” by Jimmy Carter

Published 2015 – 238 pages, indexed, with photos, poems and artwork.

I grabbed this book (off a give-away table) because I spotted a section on DIPLOMACY. And if there’s anything that might help our troubled world right now, that’s it.

I rapidly realized this book fits one of my favorite categories – accounts of times and events I lived through, but don’t really understand. I’ve investigated the Civil Rights movement, Kent State (does everyone recognize this reference?) and the Cuban missile crisis.

I read one of Carter’s earlier books, An Hour Before Daylight: Memories of a Rural Boyhood. It would be worth reading even if Carter had not risen to the Presidency.

By way of a refresher… Jimmy Carter was born in Georgia in 1924 and served as the 39thPresident of the United States from 1977 to 1981, losing the campaign for a second term to Ronald Reagan. At 93, he is the longest-retired President in US history. (Wikipedia)

The social/historical thread that runs through A Full Life is race. Carter grew up deep in the segregated South. The US Naval Academy at Annapolis, MD, was segregated when he entered in 1943. In 1948, the US military and Civil Service were integrated by order of President Harry Truman. By the time he returned to Plains, GA, Carter had little tolerance for racial discrimination. So many years have passed, and our country still struggles with racial issues!

A Full Life – Reflections at Ninety is studded with surprises. I had forgotten that it was Carter who pardoned all the draft resisters from the Vietman war, allowing many who had left the country the option of return.

Carter’s account of the peace talks that led to the Camp David Accords (1978) is fascinating. As Egyptian President Anwar Sadat began to favor some of Carter’s suggestions, Sadat’s contingent became so angry that Carter feared for Sadat’s life, worrying so much he lost a night’s sleep, a rare problem for Carter. What would have happened if Sadat had been murdered in the US? (Sadat was assassinated 1981, in Egypt.)

Carter often sent family members overseas to represent him. Rosalynn Carter traveled to Brazil as part of an effort to convince that country not to refine nuclear reactor waste for use in weapons. OMG! The mere thought of nuclear states in South American gives me cold chills! (Yes, I recognize the irony…)

I very much enjoyed seeing Carter’s paintings, ten of which are reproduced in this book. As far as I know, he is a self taught artist. I’m impressed that he painted portraits. That’s much harder than a landscape or a picture of a house. I only skimmed Carter’s poems…poetry is not my strong point.

For anyone interested in the US Presidency,  A Full Life is worth a careful read. Carter is an excellent, incisive writer and an accomplished politician in the best sense of the word. I wish he could have served longer, and I admire his undertakings in retirement.

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“The Log of a Cowboy – A Narrative of the Old Trail Days” by Andy Adams

Reading “Badluck Way” (see April 17) reminded me of this wonderful memoir of cowboy life in 1882. Like Bryce Andrews, Andy Adams worked with cattle. Unlike Andrews, he didn’t get to stay in one place. Adams drove cattle from Texas to Montana as part of a crew of about a dozen men. The work was so hard that each cowboy used a string of 10 or more horses. The cattle herd being driven numbered several thousand. The possibilities for things going wrong were numerous and complex. A stampede was one of the most dreaded types of mischance.

This book is old fashioned and straightforward. The teenaged Adams sought out the adventure of a cattle drive and he recounts it (after the fact – the book was originally published in 1903) with energy and precision. Much of it is charming. Consider his discussion of how to determine who got the ONE extra egg available on the unusual occasion when a nest of turkey eggs had been found. Adams having found the eggs, he said “I felt that the odd egg, by rights, ought to fall to me, but… I yielded. A number of ways were suggested to allot the odd egg, but the gambling fever in us being rabid, raffling or playing cards for it seemed to be the proper caper. Raffling had few advocates.” Said one of his co-workers, “Poker is a science…What have I spent 20 years learning the game for?” There follows ten pages of description of card playing, tale telling and singing… I felt like I knew each man on the crew.

If you enjoy Western literature, don’t miss this first class book! In addition to telling a gripping tale, it provides extensive information about geography, ecology, climate, agriculture and sociology.