From the author of the New York Times best seller Jack Kennedy - and Tip O'Neill’s former chief-of-staff - comes the firsthand, one-of-a-kind story of the friendship between President Reagan and the Speaker of the House.
They were the political odd couple - the two most powerful men in the country, a pair who, in author Chris Matthews' words, "couldn't be more different or more the same." For six years, Matthews was on the inside, watching the evolving relationship between President Ronald Reagan and Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill. Their philosophies were miles apart - Reagan intent on scaling back government, O'Neill fervent in defending it. Yet there was common ground too: long lunches shared on St. Patrick’s Day and a mutual respect - political and personal. Three days after Reagan’s shooting, Tip was the first outsider at the president’s bedside.
Drawing not only on his own remarkable knowledge but on extensive interviews with those closest to his subjects, Matthews brings this unlikely friendship to life in his unique voice, rendering as lively and novelistic a listen as Jack Kennedy and a timely object lesson in how bipartisan cooperation can work.
©2013 Chris Matthews (P)2013 Simon & Schuster Audio
Chris is not the greatest narrator. He makes no effort to change his voice as the characters change, which made it difficult - at times - to determine who was speaking. His voice is not crisp, which was annoying at times as I tried to distinguish certain words.
Great story about how politics used to work. This is particularly relevant given the ugly condition that we have in Washington now. Chris had a great perspective in his role with Tip which adds significant credibility to the story.
It's up there.
This is the first book by Chris Matthew's I've read. I am an avid watcher of Hardball and have followed Chris for more years than I care to remember. His constant interruption of his guest just irks me to no end. I have to admit he has improved his manners.
I was reluctant to purchase this audiobook because it was read by the author. However, listening to the sample changed my mind and I purchased it. What a treat. Chris didn't miss a beat and kept me up for hours listening. I listening to the book in two settings.
I found myself envious of Chris' life. From Africa to the halls of power and sometimes the man behind the man. I kind of understand why he interrupts his guest so often. He just doesn't have the time nor the patience for the bullshit.
I found myself at times emotionally drained. Like I was there in the room when it all went down. A fly on the wall so to speak. I was totally drawn into the story. I found myself comparing the past with the present situation going on now in the congress. This book should be required reading for all of congress.
Just like you, I spend my money here and am not on any author's payroll :)
Matthews proves that two guys from the opposite side of the aisle CAN work TOGETHER and solve our nations' issues. I am a huge fan of Ronnie (in face he was the greatest President in my life to date), but I gathered new respect and admiration for Tip O'Neill and more so, the way the two worked together and compromised on the major issues of the day.
Perhaps Obama and Boehner ought to get a copy and learn something from these two outstanding patriots and Americans. These two iconic pols proved that there IS A WAY to SOLVE what faces the American people, and its definitely not the path both have chosen.
My only complaint, if you could call it one, is that I'm not a fan of Chris Matthews voice, either on MSNBC or this audiobook...he always gives the impression that he is shouting at you. However, this fine work that he produced is critical and worthwhile that I dealt with his voice and listened intently - now more than ever!
We need leaders like Tip and Ronnie now more than ever - where are they?
I am an avid eclectic reader.
This book provided a great amount of information into the background of Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan’s rise to power. Matthews worked as a speech writer for President Jimmy Carter and was an aid to Speaker Tip O’Neill so he is writing as an insider. Matthews’s eyewitness account of the collapsing Carter campaign in 1980 is one of the strongest sections in the book.
The 1980 election made Ronald Reagan, who was the most conservative Republican to date, President. The Republicans got control of the Senate but the Democrats controlled the House. Matthews paints Reagan and O’Neill as mirror images of Irish American politicians. O’Neill fits the type but Reagan was a product of a protestant small Midwest town and southern California and down played his Irish heritage. Matthews misread Reagan as affable when his election depended on his very public meanness, his zest for the punitive ---the vow to crackdown on “welfare Queen’s” and domestic spending. Reagan began his political career working for Barry Goldwater. Reagan launched his campaign for presidency in the heart of KKK country to counter Jimmy Carter.
Matthews portrayed O’Neill as a blustering, tough Irish Bostonian who came up through the ranks of Congress, a consummate political insider. Reagan by contrast likes to portray himself as an outsider somehow innocent of the machine. His politics are still being played out today in the suspicion of all government programs and the conviction that all taxes are bad. Reagan the actor was head of the Actor’s Union and former Governor of California.
The book is instructive with lessons on legislative flexibility and budget protocols that are now often ignored. Political scholars will profit from Matthew’s emphasis on documentation in his recounting of the pivotal role played by James A. Baker III, Reagan’s chief of staff, in the Reagan-O’Neill deal. Baker was not too proud to trek to O’Neill’s home at night to craft the compromise. Tip was able to rescue a tottering Social Security system and keep it going a good long time to come with the help of Reagan and Bob Dole. Tip’s support was crucial to Reagan achieving a historic nuclear arms reduction treaty with the Soviet Union whom Reagan called the “evil empire”. On the other hand, the 1981 fight over the budget O’Neill failed to stop the slashing of taxes on the rich. O’Neill supported Reagan on deploying Marines to Beirut and tried unsuccessfully to thwart the President’s domino fixation on Nicaragua and the Contras.
I am a middle of the road independent and I was wondering how a democrat was going to portray a republic president. I must say for the most part Matthews just laid out the facts and did not add political commentary. The book is interesting and entertaining. Chris Matthews did a good job narrating the book.
Ann T. O'Toole
I couldn't wait to get this book the first time I heard it was being published. The day it was released, I downloaded it and started listening. It did not disappoint, in fact ~ It was a shear delight. This will remain at the TOP of My Listening List ... for a long time to come. I am sure I will listen to it again.
The behind the curtain stories that revealed the real people at work, at play and just being human. Real Life is so much more interesting than fiction!
Tip was my favorite. The Gipper was somehow surprisingly dynamic. I thought Chris came in a solid third as an interesting character.
I wanted to but I had to "give-up-the-ghost" and go to bed. It took about 3 days to finish and I was sad when I reached the end.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who lived the times, remembers the people and wants to refresh their memory as to the events that happened ~ with the insight that can only come first-hand ~ as only Chris Matthews can reveal ~ from behind the curtain.
Chris Matthews clearly admired and loved Tip O'Neill. This book was a great walk balk in time to the Reagan years. I think he sped through the latter part. It's also clear that the author longs for the good old days of. tough but productive politicians that put Country First. Great tribute to two great leaders!
Chris Matthews captivated me from the beginning through the end of this wonderfully entertaining book. Many times I felt that I was right there in the room the way he vividly recalled certain events.
After listening to this book, I have new found respect for many of the politicians of that era.
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