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Life's a Campaign: What Politics Has Taught Me About Friendship, Rivalry, Reputation, and Success Hardcover – October 2, 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (October 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400065283
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400065288
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #883,941 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

During his decades in Washington, MSNBC newsmagazine host Matthews has collected plenty of insight into the "fine art" of "getting people to do what you want them to." While fondly recounting his climb from Capitol Hill police officer to presidential speechwriter for Jimmy Carter to Washington bureau chief for the San Francisco Examiner and beyond, Matthews presents a ladder-climbing narrative meant to inform and inspire. Admonishing readers that no one wants to hear your ideas unless you force them to, Matthews shows readers how to get into the game (any game) and face the risks involved: "The more failure you can accept, the greater your chance of success." Examining political figures from Bill Clinton ("the best politician I've ever seen) to Zell Miller (who famously challenged Matthews to a duel on national television), Matthews reveals how "the ability to deal with people" is paramount. Divided (without explanation) into the sections indicated in his subtitle, Matthews provides anecdotes and analysis, as well as a useful (if not exactly surprising) "Bottom Line" at the end of each chapter ("To win the contest, you first have to be a contestant," "rivalry is as normal as friendship," etc.). Fans will find Matthews's honest approach and hard-nosed rhetoric intact, and those turned off by the Hardball host's loudmouth on-air style may find his print incarnation an insightful, erudite alternative.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Chris Matthews is the star of MSNBC’s Hardball and NBC’s The Chris Matthews Show. He contributes frequently to NBC’s Today and is a familiar guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He was a longtime Washington bureau chief for the San Francisco Examiner and later a national columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. He holds the David Brinkley Award for Excellence in Communications, eighteen honorary doctorates from American colleges and universities, and was a visiting fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He lives with his wife, Kathleen, an executive vice president with Marriott International, in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

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Customer Reviews

This book flows well, is easy to read and is interesting from cover to cover.
Dennis Phillips
The book is Matthews' take on how successful people (primarily politicians) became true leaders and what it takes to play well with others.
M. E. Mccaffrey
He also attributes the "Truth Gets its Boots On" quote to Churchill and not Mark Twain and gets wrong the number of Henry VIII's wives.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Erica on January 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be very enjoyable. It is a short collection of political anecdotes and 'life lessons.' It really isn't about being manipulative - I hate to say it, but having read the negative reviews here - those people really didn't read the book. Ok, so you associate 'politics' with being manipulative and then assume that a book that talks about lessons from politics must advocate a selfish sort of manipulativeness. Or else you watch Hardball and don't like it, so you then, by necessity, hate the book.

So here's an example: "Don't just call when you need something." Manipulative? Uh. How about just good manners and an appropriate way of building relationships? "Keep good company." Confucious pointed that one out. Perhaps by stating these more obvious examples, I may give the impression that the book is a bit bland. The advice might not be totally revelatory or new, but the book is written in an engaging manner and the anecdotes are enjoyable. And truthfully, organizing them around the 'what I've learned' or 'advice' premise makes it all the more entertaining.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Bill Emblom on October 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a quick read, but does have some practical advice for anyone who interacts with people which would include most of us. Chris Matthews passes on wisdom that others have passed on to him which can be of benefit to young people trying to get started in a career. Matthews quotes Winston Churchill, Bill Clinton, and others who have provided wisdom in dealing with other people. Clinton on the importance of being a good listener. Most people can't wait until the other person finishes speaking so they can spout their own thoughts. Each chapter begins with catchy lines that teach a lesson such as Harvey Mackay stating, "Dig your well before you're thirsty." Each chapter is summed up to reiterate what Matthews wants to emphasize to you. Reading biographies, Matthews asserts, are beneficial to show us how others got where they wanted to go, and to study the routes others have taken. Of special importance, I feel, is the chapter on counting to ten, one hundred if you are really angry, before spouting a snappy or clever response at someone because all your hard work can be undone in a nanosecond. I rate the book three stars which isn't bad, and I'm sure Chris Matthews doesn't expect it to be rated five stars on the same level as some classic works, but the book does provide pracical advice for people. My copy is going to our local high school where I hope students will benefit from the wisdom Chris Matthews has provided.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Dave Carpenter on October 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
What happens when one attempts to write about creating a winning life strategy using political stories? Well, judging by the diversity of the other reviews of this book, like politics in America, one ends up pleasing - at best - only half the people.

Probably because I set aside my political views in reading this book, I just plain enjoyed Chris Mathew's latest book. Sure, there are more informative books on achieving better personal results in life. And, there are better books on politics. But, I found the combination to be innovative and entertaining. Simply, a good read for a medium length plane ride or an evening by a nice fire.

Few readers are likely to discover great new insights into life in the pages of this book. But, I dare say that many of us can benefit by reading entertaining reminders of the basics.

An example of one of these basics, that I have already used in some of my classes on relationship building is this Chapter "bottom line" from the author, "Don't just call when you need something. If you plan to someday make withdrawals, it is good policy to start putting something in the bank." Surely, not an innovative thought. But, a reminder that is helpful.

Mere mortals who can benefit from such reminders, presented with quick illustrations from the world of politics, will enjoy this book. Political aficionados will probably be better served elsewhere.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By N. Connors on November 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Having read Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" a few years back, I felt Matthews' book does nothing more than rehash the same exact points. The advantage of the current book is that it uses some up-to-date examples as opposed to some of the quaint, dated examples from Carnegie, but if you've read one of these books, you've read them both.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Robert W. Smith VINE VOICE on March 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
i like chris matthews. while his voice can be somewhat grating on TV, he asks super questions and has excellent insight. he's someone for whom i have great admiration. the book, as its title suggests, is about stories (his own and famous politicians), how they dealt with difficult circumstances, in-fighting, obstacles to progress ... matthews offers within each chapter (e.g., listen) a number of stories, usually success although some failures, that demonstrate the given principle. the points that he discusses are based on, it would seem, his own values as opposed to something like precedent or scientific findings ... there's no discussion of scientific background. matthews talks about political stories, the thing for which he has become a master. in that regard, the book is excellent. coherence, valid conclusions based on material he presents, completeness of suggestions, and provision of recommendations on how to attain the chapter's objective were lacking. in my opinion, if you're looking for a self-help or self-actualization book, there are 300 books better than this one. if you're interested in stories about successful politicians (and matthews), then this is one of the more mezmerizing reads!
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