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Publisher's Summary

"I have learned that the story of a nation's success, and the success of each one of us, is a slow awakening to the timeless value of the long game."

In October 1984, a hard-charging Kentucky politician waited excitedly for President Ronald Reagan to arrive at a presidential rally in Louisville. In the midst of a tough Senate campaign, the young Republican hoped Reagan's endorsement would give a much-needed boost to his campaign. Alas, when Reagan finally stepped to the microphone, he smiled for the crowd and declared, "I'm happy to be here with my good friend, Mitch O'Donnell."

That was hardly Mitch McConnell's first setback - and far from his last. But as he learned while running his very first campaign for high school student body president, you don't have to be the most popular, most athletic, or even luckiest kid to win. You just need to run the best campaign. So he swallowed hard, put his head down, and kept going. Four weeks later he won his Senate seat, beginning a storied career that would eventually lead to his becoming the Senate majority leader.

The Long Game is the candid, behind-the-scenes memoir of a man famous for his discretion. He tells how his mother helped him beat polio by leading him through long, aching exercises every day for two years. He explains how his father taught him the importance of standing up to bullies, even if it meant taking the occasional punch. And he reveals what he really thinks about the rivalry between the Senate and the House; about the players and the stakes involved when a group of political opportunists tried to hijack the Tea Party movement; and about key figures such as Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Harry Reid. He tells the inside story of the battle against Obamacare and explains the real causes of the chronic gridlock, his ongoing efforts to restore the US Senate, and what ordinary citizens have a right to expect from Washington.

In today's atmosphere of impatience and instant gratification, McConnell still believes the founders knew best when they instituted a government with checks and balances. As he writes, "In the end, the goal isn't a perfectly running congressional machine or a party without blemish or inner turmoil. The goal is to allow the country to work out its differences freely and energetically, confident that the institutions the founders left us are capable of accommodating the disputes and disagreements that arise in a nation as big and diverse and open as ours."

©2016 Mitch McConnell (P)2016 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"From Alabama country boy bedridden for two years with polio to Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate is a remarkable journey. Mitch McConnell tells this quintessentially American story with lucid prose and refreshing candor. A most valuable historical contribution to the politics of our time." (Charles Krauthammer, author of Things That Matter

"Mitch McConnell’s The Long Game is a warm, candid, and captivating story of a young boy who conquered polio, loved the Brooklyn Dodgers, and set his sights on becoming a ballplayer before finding his life’s calling in politics. The steady upward climb from high school president to office boy in the Senate mailroom, from county judge to majority leader, is told with insight, humor, and telling detail." (Doris Kearns Goodwin, presidential historian) 

"With candor and a sure sense of history - both of the nation's and of the Senate - Mitch McConnell has written an engaging and compelling memoir of a life spent in the arena. Readers seeking to understand where we are, how we got here, and what might come next will find this book at once entertaining and essential." (Jon Meacham, author of Destiny and Power

What listeners say about The Long Game

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Painfully Hypocritical

Picked this up in an attempt to understand the outlook of someone who's policies I don't agree with. Whenever I've found myself angry and confused by political headlines, listening to the individual voices and perspectives of the people behind policies I disagree with has been generally therapeutic and helpful for me in at least understanding, if not maybe fully agreeing with, the other side. After the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for instance, I found it extremely reassuring to read Neil Gorsuch's book on conservative judicial outlooks such as textualism and originalism - no, maybe I don't fully agree with it or am 100% converted to his perspective, but I can at least where he's coming from and why. e.g. They're not the monsters with no morals they're often made out to be within our own echo chambers, assuming I take the time to listen to what they're saying.

Anyways - that was my motivation for picking this up. What I got instead, was example after example of how his patience and political foresight allowed him to consistently win, without any real discussion or thought into the motivation behind his views and ideals. As far as I can tell, his ultimate ideal is to win against people he generally doesn't like? I guess? Furthermore, as others have mentioned, his recounting of instances of political hypocrisy by the left haven't withstood the time... at all. Among many examples, his criticism of how Al Gore handled the 2000 election results, Clinton's pardoning history, or political tactics from the left in blocking/stalling votes over campaign finance, all these stories fell a little flat in our current time, and felt intolerably hypocritical after McConnells own tactics and responses to ironically similar situations during the last four years of the Trump administration, eight years of Obama before that. By the end of the book, I found myself pretty incredulous.

Last bit I just couldn't get over - the only thing he had to say about his divorce from his first wife: 'I knew this would damage my political image'. To me, this just drove home the fact that nothing I can do is going to allow me to understand this man, his ideals or vision for this country.

12 people found this helpful

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Pity It Doesn't Carry Through to 2019

Remarkably to me, this is a compelling & informative autobiography.
I have been as skeptical as anybody about politicians in general, &, perhaps, Senate Majority Leader McConnell, in particular.
Read this - it may not change your views or your votes, but there are valuable things to learn here, about American government, & about the principles & history of decent government, if there is any to be found, elsewhere.
Put it this way: not just how government works, but why - & what makes decent government fail.
Highly recommended.

6 people found this helpful

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A Look at a Career Politician

McConnell writes in his memoir he wanted to be a career politician at an early age. I have read a number of political memoirs and he is the first person to say they always wanted to be a politician. I read memoirs from politicians of both parties in an attempt to understand them and their viewpoints. I am always interested in how a person becomes who they are.

In the first part of the book McConnell tells of his early life. I was most interested in his fight with polio as a child. He gives the credit of his recovery to his mother who daily led him through exercises and encouraged him. He states he and his mother grew very close. He said that from his father he learned to stand up to bullies even if he had to take a punch. The middle and end of the book deals with McConnell’s political career. He says he graduated from the University of Louisville with a B.A. in history/political science and from the University of Kentucky School of Law. He tells about his beginnings in running for elected office to becoming leader of the Senate. McConnell goes into his political philosophy and goals for himself and the nation.

The book is well written and moves at an even pace. My main criticism of the book is his one sided view of issues and government. Overall I found learning about McConnell’s life and his view of government interesting. Mitch McConnell narrated his own book.

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The best Senatorial book of the cycle

The book is an even handed, readable and enjoyable romp through the last thirty, but particularly the last few, years of Senate history, accompanied by a large dose of all American personal story. I'd particularly recommend this book to students as it provides an excellent framework from which to judge future political claims.

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boring

I am a life long Democrat but still I wanted to listen to what senator McConnell had to say, his life and times are what many of us have done and seen, I do applaud his grit and determination to be what he wanted to be. I found this book boring and tedious to listen to, his narration is as dry as a desert.

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I respect him, but I disagree heartily

Listened to this to get some perspective on the man who has stonewalled Democrats for 2 decades. While I agree with him very little on the kinda of policies government should have at least I understand the why.

Good oration, and does an interesting job of selling his points. Though for all his grandstanding about civility, his tacit approval of Trump for policy means it's really all about power.

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Love it!

I have to say that coming in I did not expect to come out of this listen with the amount of respect and admiration I’ve since developed. His respect for the stance Senator Cooper took in support of the civil rights legislation and his willingness to put aside party first mentality to vote against President Reagan for vetoing sanctions against apartheid South Africa were inspiring. And to boot, he’s funny. Wonderful listen!

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Great Book!!

Where does The Long Game rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of the best books i have ever listened to. Really enjoyed the Senator telling his life story. Would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys politics.

1 person found this helpful

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Interesting and informative

Like him better as a person after listening to his life story. Felt more informed on some issues like term limits on others I would have liked to have had more evidence for his beliefs. I thought his comment that immigrants came here for opportunity and not security a unproven generalization. Also that we have had less incidents of terrorism here because of our foreign wars seems like wishful speculation. I understand that he does not like government programs in some areas but he provided no facts to me at least that Obamacare is such a big failure. I read otherwise. It was reassuring that he appears not to be a racist. I like his patience and reported work ethic. He seems very appreciative. I thought he was a good narrator. I did think he repeated himself more than necessary on how he overcame his various problems . I think he was lucky to have a mild form of polio many of us had it worse. I feel like I understand his view of the conservative postion but imagine I will continue to general vote Democratic!

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Good read (listen) but many half truths

It's a well written book and I really enjoyed the fact that McConnell narrated but, not surprised, he leaves out details that are inconvenient to his political narratives and includes many half-truths that are vehicles for demagoguery.
Say what you will about his politics, but McConnell's tactical abilities throughout the years has made him HIGHLY effective for the Republican party....for better or for worse.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-16-21

Exceptional

Interesting insight into a man it turns out we don’t know at all. It’s a warts and all portrayal, infinitely more honest than the media caricature.

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  • yash
  • 07-12-21

Great book by an great man

Have always admired his patience and this book was worth reading. As someone from centre right.

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  • F Daw
  • 04-12-20

Good, but too short

The reading and story are fine. However, for a memoir of a long political career, it felt like an overview. He could have used some more confidence in his story.