January 20, 2007, marked the 30th anniversary of the inauguration of Jimmy Carter as president of the United States. To mark the occasion, the University of Georgia sponsored an outstanding three-day conference on the lessons of the Carter presidency. The conference reunited the former president with most of the important actors in his administration and included academic perspectives. We started with a simple conference paper but quickly realized that we had a book’s worth of data. This book is a heavily revised and expanded version of our original paper for that conference. We owe many thanks to John Maltese for including us in the conference, which we both consider among the highlights of our professional careers.
One of the many benefits of our participation in the conference was the opportunity to hear the comments of former administration officials on our interpretation of the political dynamics of the “water wars.”