The author of this admiring biography points out that the errors made by public figures have a high profile but a short half-life; the hostage crisis and other misjudgments cost Carter the presidency, but as time passes his competence and common sense are becoming more evident. This is a portrait of a self-starter (he was in business as a child) who transcended the limitations of an insular youth and a restricted education to rise, first in the Navy's most technically demanding service, then in local and, finally, national politics. Text is clear, calm, virtually free of hyperbole; Smith emphasizes Carter's ability to master details, his persistence and his earnest, informal style. She is also careful to note how close Carter is to his family and how much they have helped and influenced him. Carter has published plenty of self-analysis; he is quoted here with relative frequency. For its historical perspective, this is preferable to Poynter's Jimmy Carter Story, (Messner, 1978) or Mercer's Jimmy Carter (Putnam, 1977). Illustrations not seen.