First Lady from Plains, first published in 1984, is Rosalynn’s Carter’s autobiography, covering her life from her childhood in Plains, Georgia, through her time as First Lady. It is “a readable, lively and revealing account of the Carters and their remarkable journey from rural Georgia to the White House in a span of ten years” (The New York Times).
First Lady from Plains
Rosalynn Carter, with a new preface by the author
“First Lady From Plains is a readable, lively and revealing account of the Carters and their remarkable journey from rural Georgia to the White House in a span of 10 years. After her husband lost the 1980 election, Mrs. Carter admitted being ”bitter enough for both of us,” but fortunately she does not allow her spleen to overwhelm her book. She simply avoids some of the more painful personal moments of the Carter Presidency – the Bert Lance affair and Billy Carter’s embarrassing fling with the Libyans. Privately, she has said their friends and family have suffered enough, and she is not about to reopen their cases.
Mrs. Carter, who describes herself as her husband’s ”political partner,” does not accept defeat easily. Never has, never will. After he narrowly lost his first gubernatorial campaign to Lester Maddox in 1966, the Carters drove to the Georgia coast for a vacation. ”When we went through the town of Waycross,” she writes, ”where I had campaigned especially hard, once standing all night at a gospel singing, only to have the town vote solidly for Maddox, I put my head in my arms and refused to look out the window.” But Mrs. Carter no longer reacts that way when passing through politically hostile territory, and it’s a good thing, considering the number of states Jimmy Carter lost in 1980.
Mrs. Carter is tough, emotional, ambitious, strong- willed and fiercely dedicated to her husband. Her childhood, she says, ended on the day her father, a farmer and auto mechanic, died of leukemia. At 13, she had to help her mother support the family by taking in sewing and selling eggs and butter. She lived through the kind of hard times that Jimmy Carter, son of one of Plains’s better-off families, wanted voters to believe he had experienced. After her father’s death, Mrs. Carter had two goals – to live up to her father’s high expectations and to escape from Plains. In a way, her marriage to Jimmy Carter was a twofer; it allowed her to accomplish both.”
—The New York Times on the original edition, April 1984
“What makes Rosalynn Carter so interesting and her memoir so compelling is her awareness that she is part of a long and distinguished historical tradition: the southern lady in politics . . . What ought to be a continuing legacy is Rosalynn’s success in breaking new ground as a First Lady, without uprooting the traditions of the past.”
The seven works in the Carter Collection from the University of Arkansas Press showcase President Jimmy Carter’s lifelong relationship with writing and scholarship. These books range from commentary on Middle East politics to tales of outdoor adventure and, with First Lady Rosalynn Carter, reflections on life post-presidency. A longtime supporter of university presses, President Carter’s emphasis on high academic standards and critical thought are evident throughout these pages.