AN OUTDOOR JOURNAL by Jimmy Carter
Kirkus Star

AN OUTDOOR JOURNAL

Adventures and Reflections
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A perfectly charming memoir of a lifetime of rural outings by the man from Plains, Georgia. There's scarcely a breath of politicking in this highly personal, eager account of fishing, hunting, and trekking the world over. Only a few gentle environmental asides--e.g., gratitude that the once near-extinct wild turkey (a favorite quarry of Carter's) now flocks in abundance--intrude upon the pure backwoods focus of these benign tales of childhood bird-dogging and fishing and adult days spent in pursuit of grouse, quail, those turkeys, and--above all--whatever the ex-President can hook with tied flies. If, at times, Carter's enthusiasm froths (on hunting turkeys: "Then, not more than a hundred yards away, there was an explosive gobble. I was electrified with excitement. . ."), for the most part he tidily channels his lust for nature and its sports into neat, homespun narratives that provide welcome glimpses of life in rural, depression Georgia ("On these excursions we took meal, lard, grits, sweet potatoes, and coffee or sassafras roots with us. . ."); of the thrills of fishing in Alaska, England, and New Zealand; of hours stolen from Oval Office duties. Two standout chapters: "Dangers in the Woods"--including the time that Carter picked off a water moccasin slithering right for Rosalynn, and the time, also fluting the mid-60's and deep in a swamp, that he realized he was lost: "My body was almost instantly saturated with cold sweat. . .This was one of the worst moments of my life"; and "A Visit to Nepal"--including a dangerous ascent of Kala Pattar peak, after which Carter found that "my fingernails were split, my hands were bleeding, both shins were skinned, and I had bruises inside my thighs and on my buttocks." The faith underpinning Carter's reverence for nature takes final stage, with a note on attending Baptist meetings at a small church near his country cabin, and with a brief meditation on Ecclesiastes. Worlds apart from the other current book by a former Chief of State (Nixon's 1999, p. 435), this refreshing reminiscence, low-keyed yet heartfelt, akin in spirit to Winston Churchill's Painting as a Pastime, is, while by no means classic nature writing, one of the most delightful and offbeat Presidential memoirs ever.
Pub Date: June 1st, 1988
ISBN: 1557283540
Page count: 340pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1988




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