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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 November, 2003, 11:42 GMT
Ex-President Carter pens novel
Jimmy Carter
When not writing novels, Jimmy Carter is a tireless campaigner
Jimmy Carter has become the first US president to write a novel.

The 79-year-old Nobel prize winner has released The Hornet's Nest based on the 18th Century revolutionary war in America's south.

It tells the tale of the war through the eyes of farmers, British spies and American Indians.

Mr Carter said he was interested in writing the novel after finding very little reliable information about the 1775-1784 war in one place.

"Since my ancestors were involved in it, and I had some reports on what they had done and their experiences, I decided to put it together as a combination of historical figures and fictional characters," he said.

The story follows the lives of Georgia militia leader Elijah Clarke, British commander Thomas Brown and independent frontiersman Ethan Pratt.

Set in Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas, the novel paints a picture of deadly battlegrounds, changing allegiances, Indian massacres, political dissent and undecided colonists.

Peanut farm

Mr Carter apparently read more than 35 books on the war in preparation, and spent seven years writing The Hornet's Nest.

He is also said to have consulted several professors to learn about creative writing, and painted the book jacket himself.

"Historians will find the book to be quite accurate, as far as what actually happened," he said.

"It will be good for us to remember the original concept of our country, that we have to relate intimately with other nations."

Raised on a peanut farm in Georgia, Mr Carter became the 39th president of the United States in 1977.

He served one term in office, and has since become one of the most influential mediators in world crises.

He has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to keep the Middle East peace process on track, and successfully persuaded North Korea to open dialogue with South Korea.

His Atlanta-based Carter Center has also established health programmes which have all but eradicated guinea-worm disease, and is successfully tackling river blindness.

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