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All's Fair: Love, War and Running for President Paperback – August 31, 1995

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Editorial Reviews Review

He's a little bit country, she's a little bit rock and roll. He's a lot Democrat, she's a lot Republican. The Donny and Marie of politics display a revealing x-ray of the presidential campaign. James Carville and Mary Matalin, themselves key players at the center of the political battles and election headlines that gripped America, tell in candid, stunning detail the day-by-day pressures, near disasters, and triumphs of campaign life.

From Library Journal

The economy, stupid. Bimbo eruptions. Chicken George. These and other highlights of the 1993 presidential campaign are recounted here by those who crafted these buzzwords, or at least gave them the most "spin." Bush campaign director Matalin and Clinton strategist Carville intrigued the world with their cross-party-and some say heretical-dating during the campaign, but upon reading this book, you understand the sparks. Both are colorful and ambitious, and both love the rather arcane world of top-level political campaigning. However, there's little of their romance here (they married after the election). Their memoir is more a juicy compendium of political insider info. We learn how both campaigns felt about Ross Perot; whether Clinton is really as testy as Bob Woodward says (Carville briefly describes Clinton's habit of SMO, or Standard Morning Outburst); and what Barbara Bush is really like (she's the only one who could stop the Bush campaign team from its ingrained swearing). Still, it's hard not to suspect most of the testimony here-after all, these people are paid to "stay on the message," even if it's untrue. An ominous testament to the rise of "handler" style over substance, this book is for all political collections.
--Judy Quinn, formerly with "Library Journal"
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (August 31, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684801337
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684801339
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #410,456 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Paul Hickey on December 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
For anyone interested in how opposites attract and presidential campaigns are won or lost, "All's Fair" is one of those "must-read" books well worth the time spent in its somewhat long 478 pages.
With able assistance from Peter Knobler, America's favorite political odd couple of James Carville and Mary Matalin explain how they kept their relationship together while simultaneously working against each other's professional goals.
As you may recall, the Democratic Carville helped manage President Clinton's successful bid for the White House in 1992, while Republican Matalin was a major figure in the reelection campaign of President Bush. The two have since appeared frequently as commentators on NBC's "Meet the Press," and even in an antacid commercial
In this account, however, Carville and Matalin avoid most of the pitfalls of the typical partisan memoir by using an even-handed "he said/she said" approach that usually provides equal time for these two very different people. Although the subtitle is "Love, War, and Running for President," those looking for intimate, melodramatic details of their weird alliance will be disappointed. Both Carville and Matalin do an admirable job of maintaining their individual dignity and conjugal privacy. Indeed, 80 percent of "All's Fair" is about the difficult business of public life. Only 20 percent concerns their personal feelings. And yet, that 20 percent gives this story a human dimension often lacking in more conventional election histories.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Karlis Streips on June 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
James Carville and Mary Matalin are always entertaining to watch on television, no matter what they're talking about, so there was no way this book could have been anything less than massively entertaining. It works outstandingly on two different levels -- first of all, it's a blow by blow of the 1992 presidential election, with a lot of the background scuttlebutt and the inside information. You get a real sense of how disarrayed the Bush campaign was, how amazingly the Clintonistas got over some of their hassles. Secondly, though, it's a profoundly in-depth look at the way in which two people who supposedly could have nothing in common develop love, and in that sense it's very touching. James Carville's puppy-dog slavishness to Bill Clinton reads a little off-key now that Big Bill is coming to the end of his eight controversial years (Monica was still in the future when this book was written), but all in all this is a wonderful book.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By C. Collins on July 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Even though the Clinton vs. Bush campaign was 12 years ago, this book is well worth a re-visit. The book is relatively long but I found every page of high interest.

Mary Matalin's sections on the Bush re-election were wonderful reading and I am an avowed liberal. She perfectly captured the patrician nobility of Bush Senior and the campaign that destroyed itself. From the disasterous reign of John Sununu as Chief of Staff, the tragic death of Lee Atwater, the paralysis of Margaret Tutwiler, the insanity of Ross Perot, the mean-spiritedness of Patrick Buchanan, the shrill defeatism of Rich Bonds, and the often confused and muddled voice of an out of touch President, George Bush, the characters are vividly drawn and almost sympathetic.

Carville on the other hand is masterful in his analysis of the consciousness of the American Everyman. The strength of Carville's strategy is common sense played offensively. He respects the middle class American sense of irony and skepticism trying to move toward optimism and problem solving.

Even though the book is 478 pages long, it is really a fast read. Both Matalin and Carville are witty, strategic professionals with years of experience. I didn't get the book to read a sappy love story and I was glad the book focused on the considerable professional experiences of this couple rather than on their fledgling romance.

Carville's desciptions of Bill Clinton do the man justice as a flawed but brilliant leader. Matalin's desciptions of George Bush do the man justice as a man who believes his class, gender, and race was destined for leadership but he just can't navigate the reality of the average American experience.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 29, 2003
Format: Audio Cassette
Even though this book is almost 500 pages, I really sped right through it. If you are a political nut like I am, you will absolutely love this book. It mainly focuses on the 1992 presidential election (if you are looking for intense details of Matalin and Carville's relationship, you are looking at the wrong book) But it offers so much. It really is a he said/she said blow-by-blow account of the entire election. The format for this book is the best possible one. It keeps in interesting, entertaining, easy-to-follow and enjoyable. I could hardly believe that at certain points Matalin caused me, an avowed liberal, to feel sorry for Bush over his loss for reelection. I could hardly put this book down, and loved it throughout. Read this book if you are into politics, election campaigns, or stategies. You will not be disappointed.
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