Redeemer, Second Edition

The Life of Jimmy Carter

Second edition, revised and expanded

By Randall Balmer

With a new afterword by the author

312 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, appends., notes, index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-8021-7
    Published: May 2024
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-8022-4
    Published: April 2024

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This illuminating biography of our thirty-ninth president by an acclaimed historian of American religion presents Jimmy Carter as the last great standard-bearer of progressive evangelical politics. Evangelical Christianity and conservative politics are commonly viewed today as inseparable. But when Carter, a Democrat and unabashed born-again Christian, won the presidency in 1976, he owed his victory in part to American evangelicals. Yet four years later, those very same voters abandoned Carter for Ronald Reagan and the Republican Party, signaling the eclipse of Christian progressivism by the Religious Right.

Balmer briskly narrates Carter's religious and political development, his stunning rise from peanut farmer to Georgia governor to president of the United States, his accomplishments and missteps, and his swift fall from political grace. With a keen eye for the dynamic politics of the 1970s and '80s and the inner workings of right-wing religious organizing, Balmer provides a compelling account of an often-misunderstood moment in American political history, full of insight into the character and motivations of the nation's longest-lived president. Now in paperback for the first time, this edition includes a new afterword on the forces that led to Carter's 1980 defeat and the ways his policy priorities and values extended to his long career as a humanitarian and activist after leaving the White House.

About the Author

Randall Balmer is a prize-winning historian, a leading public commentator on religion, and the author of more than a dozen books, including Passion Plays: How Religion Shaped Sports in North America. He holds the John Phillips Chair in Religion at Dartmouth College.
For more information about Randall Balmer, visit the Author Page.


"Balmer narrates the surprising rise of a Georgia peanut farmer with the ease of a natural storyteller."β€”Wall Street Journal

"Refreshingly concise.... Balmer presents Carter as an icon of progressive evangelicalism."β€”New York Times Book Review

"Randall Balmer's slim profile seeks to remind us there was once, and could be again, a 'Christian left' in American politics."―Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"Balmer's big contribution to our understanding of the man from Plains is in showing how his evangelical convictions both helped put him in office and helped precipitate his landslide loss to Ronald Reagan in 1980."β€”Seattle Times

A compelling, wistful tale, briskly rendered."β€”Jon Butler, Yale University