In This Review

Working in the World: Jimmy Carter and the Making of American Foreign Policy
Working in the World: Jimmy Carter and the Making of American Foreign Policy
By Robert A. Strong
Louisiana State University Press, 2000, 294 pp
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A self-described "revisionist," Strong uses nine case studies to refute the view that Carter bungled his foreign policy. Although acknowledging some serious problems in the handling of U.S.-Soviet relations, the author argues that Carter was neither weak nor indecisive; more often he was conscientious and consistent. Tapping into recently opened archives and valuable oral histories, Strong offers a rigorous and nuanced analysis with nary a breath of polemic. The result is the best book on Carter's foreign policy to date. Strong also persuades about the need to reappraise Carter's record. Reevaluating Carter recalls the problem in comparing Herbert Hoover with Franklin Roosevelt: historians increasingly notice Hoover's strengths as they uncover F.D.R.'s failings. As with Hoover, the comparison hints at questions about Carter's weakness as a politician and the relation of politics to presidential success. For those questions, Strong's case studies do not knit together well enough to provide the answers.