Carter graduated from Ithaca High School in 1972, and his essay "The Best Black" is based in part on his experiences there. At Ithaca High School, he was the editor-in-chief of The Tattler and pushed hard for student representation on the local school board.
Carter earned his BA in history from Stanford University in 1976. At Stanford he served as managing editor for The Stanford Daily. Carter received a JD from Yale Law School in 1979. At Yale, he won the prize for best oralist in the Thurmond Arnold Moot Court Competition and served as a note editor on the Yale Law Journal.
Carter is currently the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale Law School, where he has taught since 1982. At Yale he teaches courses on contracts, professional responsibility, ethics in literature, intellectual property, and the law and ethics of war.
Carter's non-fiction books have received praise from voices across the political spectrum, from Marion Wright Edelman to John Joseph O'Connor. Carter's first novel, The Emperor of Ocean Park, spent 11 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list in 2002. His fourth novel, Jericho's Fall, was published in July 2009. His latest book is The Violence of Peace: America's Wars in the Age of Obama (2011).
Carter's work is seen frequently on the op-ed pages of major newspapers. In addition to his policy writings and novels, Carter for several years wrote a feature column in Christianity Today magazine. He is currently a Bloomberg View columist at Bloomberg.com.
Carter was raised in Harlem, in Washington, D.C., and in Ithaca, New York. He and his wife, Enola Aird, have two children, and currently reside in Connecticut. They attend one of the oldest predominantly black Episcopal churches in the country. 
Reflections of an Affirmative Action Baby. New York: Basic Books, 1991 ISBN 0-465-06871-5.
New England White (2007) is a thriller in which the wife of the president of an Ivy League university suspects that her husband is covering up a murder committed thirty years ago by one of his two roommates, who are running against each other for President of the United States.
Palace Council (2008) involves a two-decade conspiracy to gain control of the Oval Office. The story is set in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, and the major characters include Eddie Wesley, a Harlem writer; Aurelia, the woman Eddie loves, who becomes a professor at Cornell University; and a number of real-life historical figures, including Richard Nixon and Langston Hughes.
Jericho's Fall (2009) recounts the last days of a "Former Everything" (including Secretary of Defense and CIA Director) who is determined to reveal secrets and the struggles that result, all on a Colorado mountaintop and in a small Colorado town.
The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln (2012) is a legal drama turned thriller whose plot revolves around the speculation of what would have happened had Abraham Lincoln survived his assassination and gone on to be impeached for exceeding his constitutional authority during the American Civil war. The protagonist Abigail, a young, female, black law graduate experiences various misadventures in post-War Washington, D.C. as she assists on the President's legal defense team.
Back Channel (2014) is a thriller set against the background of the Cuban Missile Crisis. a second negotiation -- the "back channel" -- kept secret even from most of Kennedy's closest advisers. The protagonist, Margo Jensen, a 19-year-old black college student, finds both her courage and her intellect tested constantly as she is thrust unwillingly into the center of great events. She must risk her life as Kennedy's envoy and risk her reputation as (supposedly) Kennedy's lover, all the while seeking to uncover the hidden connection between her own family's past and the crisis unfolding around her. Real people here include Bobby Fischer, the 19-year-old chess champion of the United States and Aleksandr Fomin, head of the KGB's Washington station. Fictional characters from previous works include Jericho Ainsley (Jericho's Fall), Tori Elden (Palace Council), and Kimmer Madison (The Emperor of Ocean Park; New England White) as a toddler.