Jimmy Carter is often derided as the peanut farmer whose weak one-term presidency was marred by inflation, recession and the Iran hostage crisis. Yet he is also a highly-regarded statesman, honoured with a Nobel prize for his humanitarian work and efforts to bring peace to the Middle East.
This two-part profile from the acclaimed Presidents series opens Carter's career and character to view, with input from many who know him best. Carter's promising career in the Navy was cut short when he had to take over the family farm after his father died. He entered local politics, becoming a senator and governor of Georgia, yet, as the first episode, Jimmy Who?, shows, he was almost unknown when he won the US presidency in 1976 as a moral alternative after Vietnam and Watergate.
He promoted human rights, education and foreign affairs but was seen as a soft touch and seemed to get the blame for everything from returning the Panama Canal or the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to the eruption of Mount St Helens. Carter's faltering presidency is examined in the second part, Hostage. When Iranian students stormed the US embassy in 1979, taking 52 members of staff hostage, a failed rescue operation sealed Carter's fate. In a final insult, Iran held the hostages for 444 days during negotiations, only releasing them as Ronald Reagan took office.