ATLANTA -- The crafty ''rube'' who earned a reputation for enjoying himself too much in Georgetown bars while he was Jimmy Carter's White House chief of staff details his personal struggles with cancer in his latest book.
Hamilton Jordan's ''No Such Thing as a Bad Day'' (Longstreet, $22) is an inspirational memoir, a vivid portrayal of his shock, denial, fear, depression and determination to beat cancer -- not once, but three times before age 50.
''I tell people I've had one of each,'' Jordan said.
In 1985, he was diagnosed with near-fatal lymphoma, which was treated with experimental chemotherapy. Six years later, his doctor removed an early form of skin cancer. Then, in 1995, he underwent major surgery for prostate cancer.
''I don't feel cursed or put upon by my cancers. Instead, I feel very blessed and just plain lucky to be alive.''
''No Such Thing'' is Jordan's second book. His first, ''Crisis,'' published in 1982, detailed the secret negotiations for the release of the American hostages in Iran. It became the basis for a TV miniseries.
Jordan was known as a shrewd political infighter. His mother once said he had been a ''political animal'' since childhood. ''If he didn't run himself, he'd run his cousin,'' she told Kandy Stroud, author of the 1977 book ''How Jimmy Won.''
He showed up for White House press briefings in tennis clothes, once called national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski ''Woody Woodpecker'' because of his spiky hair, and was accused of appreciating too openly the bosom of the Egyptian ambassador's wife.
Then there was the rumor that Jordan had used cocaine at Studio 54 in New York. After an investigation, a federal grand jury voted unanimously against bringing an indictment.
''I never wanted to be a public figure, and I certainly never dreamed that I would become a controversial figure and, ultimately, a political liability for the man that I served,'' writes Jordan.
''Despite the perception that developed of my being a playboy and a rube, I spent most of my first year physically at the White House, working 14 and 16 hours, seven days a week. I never went out socially and had no desire to be part of the Washington 'scene.'''
Jay Beck, who worked in the Carter White House, recalled that world affairs touched Jordan even during his boyhood in Albany, Ga.
''They were the kind of family that, when you went over and had dinner, they talked about politics, books, the world,'' he said.
After leaving the White House, Jordan made an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate in Georgia, worked for Whittle Communications in Knoxville, Tenn., and was executive director of the Association of Tennis Professionals.
Two years before Jordan learned he had lymphoma, he and his wife founded Camp Sunshine, a program for children with cancer. They are currently organizing a camp for children with juvenile diabetes.
Now 55, Jordan lives with his wife and three children in Atlanta, where he is involved with several start-up companies that focus on health, education and the media.
Jordan said politics don't come up much in conversation these days. Although he stays informed, he would prefer that others do the analyzing. He's disillusioned by politics and underwhelmed by the prospect of voting for Al Gore or George W. Bush.
''As I've gotten older, I've gotten more conservative, more cynical about what government can and cannot do,'' he said.
Although he's been cancer-free since 1995, ''you don't ever know for sure,'' he said. ''You kind of live from checkup to checkup.''
Every day means more to him now, Beck said. ''He goes to every school play, every soccer game, every baseball game.''
''I don't ever want to forget the raw fear of death,'' Jordan said. ''Today I lead a life I don't take for granted.''
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