News & Politics

No Such Thing as a Bad Day

“Cancer memoir in which the cancer sections are the least compelling.”

Jimmy Carter's former chief of staff has written a cancer memoir in which the cancer sections are the least compelling. That's not to say his stories of battling non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, skin cancer, and prostate cancer aren't well-meaning and informative, but they offer little insight or surprise. Instead they serve as TV-movie-style lead-ins to more interesting, and marginally livelier, flashbacks—including Jordan's civilian volunteer work in Vietnam; right-wing lawyer Roy Cohn's alleged smear in the 1970s leading to charges that Jordan used cocaine; and a genuinely inspirational character, for both author and reader: his father's cousin Clarence, who founded an interracial commune in rural Georgia in the 1940s.

Hampered by cliché (the first words are "I remember it like it was yesterday") and bland prose, the book is a nevertheless a useful reference for those fighting cancer—appendices offer tips for patients, a guide to prostate cancer, and general information—as well as an unpretentious account of a well-known man's life lived decently and mostly out of the spotlight.

Hamilton Jordan

Longstreet Press


Senior Managing Editor

Bill O’Sullivan is senior managing editor; from 1999 to 2007, he was a features editor. In another lifetime, he was assistant managing editor. Somewhere in the middle, he was managing editor of Common Boundary magazine and senior editor at the Center for Public Integrity. His personal essays have been cited three times among the notable essays of the year in The Best American Essays. He teaches at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda.