A Boy From Georgia
Coming of Age in the Segregated South

Hamilton Jordan
Edited by Kathleen Jordan
Foreword by President Jimmy Carter

A coming-of-age memoir by one of our great political strategists


“Hamilton Jordan was a whip-smart advisor, a great writer, and someone with whom I shared a warm and candid friendship. He witnessed the formation of the civil rights agenda in real time and made it a personal mission to break down racial barriers in hiring staff in the governor’s office and the White House. Hamilton’s reflections on his southern heritage are honest, witty, and as important now as ever before.”
—Dr. Andrew Young, former Georgia congressman and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations

“This is a delightful and inspiring coming-of-age story brimming with funny anecdotes, family mysteries, and political intrigue, but it is much more than one raconteur’s personal report of how the scales fell from his eyes. Through Hamilton’s stories of his maturation, it is possible, finally, to trace the evolution of a species—the white, southern male—from the muck of Jim Crowism to the embrace of the progressive spirit that is the South’s salvation.”
—Hank Klibanoff, coauthor of The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation

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When Hamilton Jordan died of peritoneal mesothelioma in 2008, he left behind a mostly finished memoir, a book on which he had been working for the last decade. Jordan’s daughter, Kathleen—with the help of her brothers and mother—took up the task of editing and completing the book. A Boy from Georgia—the result of this posthumous father-daughter collaboration—chronicles Hamilton Jordan’s childhood in Albany, Georgia, charting his moral and intellectual development as he gradually discovers the complicated legacies of racism, religious intolerance, and southern politics, and affords his readers an intimate view of the state’s wheelers and dealers.

Jordan’s middle-class childhood was bucolic in some ways and traumatizing in others. As Georgia politicians battled civil rights leaders, a young Hamilton straddled the uncomfortable line between the southern establishment to which he belonged and the movement in which he believed. Fortunate enough to grow up in a family that had considerable political clout within Georgia, Jordan went into politics to put his ideals to work. Eventually he became a key aide to Jimmy Carter and was the architect of Carter’s stunning victory in the presidential campaign of 1976; Jordan later served as Carter’s chief of staff. Clear eyed about the triumphs and tragedies of Jordan’s beloved home state and region, A Boy from Georgia tells the story of a remarkable life in a voice that is witty, vivid, and honest.

A Bradley Hale Fund for Southern Studies Publication

Page count: 232
36 b&w photos
Trim size: 6 x 9

Read more about Hamilton Jordan at the New Georgia Encyclopedia.


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Hamilton Jordan (1944–2008) was chief of staff under President Jimmy Carter from 1979 to 1980. He was key advisor and strategist for Carter’s successful presidential campaign in 1976, and—at the age of twenty-six—Jordan designed and spearheaded Carter’s successful gubernatorial campaign in 1970.

Kathleen Jordan is Hamilton Jordan’s daughter and a television producer and writer living in Los Angeles.