Jimmy Carter: Man from Plains

15th August 2008 at 01:00


It must be strange being christened one of the least American of US presidents. But Jimmy Carter has earned that dubious tag.

A fervent defender of the Palestinians, who once asked why the US needed so many nuclear weapons when they could wipe out Russia with a couple of hundred, Jimmy Carter's beliefs have never sat easily with those of his countryfolk, and when he was ousted in 1980, he was about as popular with his fellow Americans as Marmite.

Now Jimmy Carter is back, in a new documentary, Man From Plains, by Jonathan Demme, which charts the book tour for his latest tome, Palestine: Peace not apartheid. It seeks to portray the former leader - a Nobel Peace Prize winner - as a misunderstood diplomat, more at ease in the knotty world of international relations than the blundering dolts of the Bush administration.

But it has not universally convinced. The New York Times called it a "friendly, at times fawning" portrayal and criticised it for depicting Jimmy Carter as a saint. Writing in online magazine Slate, Christopher Hitchens slammed Jimmy Carter's criticisms of the Bush administration as "the worst in history" for foreign affairs, countering that it was, "a title for which he himself has been actively contending since 1976".

Whatever your view on one of America's most controversial pensioners, Man From Plains is a thought-provoking watch.

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