October 25, 2021

Rebirth of Book by Aide to Carter

He spent the final years of his life on a quieter pursuit: writing a memoir of nearly 300 pages that was not quite finished at the time of his death in 2008.

Now his daughter, Kathleen, a 24-year-old television producer, is rushing to polish the manuscript in the hope of getting it published and cementing the legacy of one of the most notable members of the Carter administration.

The memoir, Mr. Jordan’s third book, is an account of his life growing up in the South. According to his daughter, it describes how he witnessed the cruelty of segregation and began to feel conflicted about systematic injustices. It also recounts how he later discovered the hidden history of his family.

Raised a Baptist, Mr. Jordan was told when he was in college that his maternal grandmother was Jewish, a closely held family secret up to then. (The book’s proposed title, “Meet the Gottheimers,” came from his startled observation at her funeral that she was buried in a plot between two members of a family with the last name Gottheimer.)

Mr. Jordan, who pronounced his last name JER-dun, in the Southern fashion, began working on the book around 2005, his daughter said, and was nearly completed when he died of cancer at 63.

“He had always been thinking about writing about his past, writing about his childhood,” Ms. Jordan said in an interview. “I’m becoming intimately familiar with big parts of my dad’s life that he never talked about.”

To observers of Washington politics in the late 1970s, Mr. Jordan was a larger-than-life presence: a member of the so-called Georgia Mafia who had worked for Mr. Carter while he was a little-known Southern politician, then designed the strategy for his successful bid for the governor’s office and his campaign for the 1976 presidential election.

When Mr. Carter was elected to the White House, he appointed Mr. Jordan, then 34, his chief of staff.

“He transformed ‘Jimmy Who?’ to the president of the United States,” said Charles S. Bullock, a professor of political science at the University of Georgia. “That was the high point of his career — getting his boss elected as president. The reviews that Jordan got as presidential chief of staff were much more critical.”

The stories about Mr. Jordan’s after-hours behavior were legendary. According to one published account, he once spat a mouthful of an amaretto-and-cream cocktail down the cleavage of a woman in a bar. (The White House released a statement denying it.) He was accused of using cocaine at Studio 54 during a jaunt to Manhattan — a charge that was investigated by a special counsel and found to be unsubstantiated.

Another story, told by Sally Quinn in a 5,000-word article in 1977 in The Washington Post, went like this: Mr. Jordan, a guest at a dinner party given by Barbara Walters, gazed at the “ample front” of the wife of the Egyptian ambassador and then drunkenly declared, “I’ve always wanted to see the pyramids.” (“Slur to Envoy’s Wife Tied to Carter Aide,” a New York Times headline blared the next day.)

In his book “No Such Thing as a Bad Day,” in which Mr. Jordan chronicled his previous bouts with cancer, he denied unequivocally that any incident had taken place.

His fame was briefly revived last year when his character was featured in the film “Argo,” the Oscar-winning account of the Iran hostage crisis. The role was played by Kyle Chandler, the star of “Friday Night Lights.”

The unfinished memoir reaches back to Mr. Jordan’s childhood in Albany, Ga., in the 1950s, a time when the South was in the middle of tumultuous changes on attitudes about social mores and race.

Jerry Rafshoon, a television and film producer who was Mr. Carter’s communications director and one of Mr. Jordan’s closest friends, has helped Ms. Jordan with the editing of the memoir.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/27/business/media/rebirth-of-book-by-aide-to-carter.html?partner=rss&emc=rss