ROD TROESTER, (Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 1996), 181 pp. $55.00 cloth (ISBN 0-275-95444-7).
There is no doubt that Jimmy Carter has been a more popular ex-president than president. His humanitarian work since he left the presidency in January 1981 has earned him numerous awards as well as the plaudits of many who condemned him as ineffectual in the White House.
In this slender volume, Rod Troester, an associate professor at Behrend College, Pennsylvania State University at Erie, provides the first scholarly monograph published on Carter's post-presidency. Troester argues that while recent Republican ex-presidents--Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Bush--joined corporate boards, gave expensive lectures, played golf, or, in Nixon's case, assumed the role of elder statesman, Carter plunged into peacemaking and humanitarian causes at home and abroad. Troester's thesis is that Carter has shown that a former president, even one rejected by the voters, can make significant contributions to a more just, humane, and peaceful world through careful investment of post-presidential credibility and political capital.
The book is organized into topical chapters, each emphasizing Carter's role as peacemaker. Under international peacekeeping, the author recounts Carter's attempts to mediate an end to civil wars in Ethiopia/Eritrea, Liberia, and the Sudan. There is a special chapter on Carter's diplomacy without portfolio in 1994 in North Korea, Haiti, and Bosnia. This is followed by a chapter on his election monitoring in Panama, Haiti, Paraguay, Guyana, Ghana, and Zambia, and in his supervising of the 1990 elections in Nicaragua and his mediating the peaceful transfer of power from the Sandinista regime to the newly elected government.
The second half of the book stretches the definition of peacemaker. A chapter on peacemaking through humanitarian development abroad includes the work of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter in overcoming human rights abuses and protecting human rights. The chapter also outlines their and the Carter Center's projects for increased agricultural yields to combat famine in sub-Sahara Africa and to encourage better health care programs in Third World countries. The latter includes expanded immunization programs and reduction of polio, measles, yaws, rabies, "river blindness," and the Guinea worm disease.
Another chapter on the Carters' projects within the United States is entitled "Peacemaking through Humanitarian Development at Home." It...