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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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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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (October 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400065283
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400065288
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.4 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: #1,216,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Phillips on June 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I watch Chris Matthews almost every evening and have come to respect him a great deal even if I don't always agree with him. The thing that I most respect about the man is that he asks the tough questions of both sides of the political aisle. Many conservative Republicans are upset with him now because he is so tough on the Bush administration but a scant eight years ago liberal Democrats were upset with him over his treatment of the Clinton administration. Basically Matthews seems to ask the tough questions of whoever is in power despite the fact that in his political career he always worked for Democrats.

The reader will find out a lot about the author in this book including the fact that Matthews' father was a Republican and that the first President Bush took great delight in reminding Matthews of that fact. Matthews has in fact come into fairly close contact with almost every major American leader in the last thirty years and has gleaned several worthwhile insights from these successful people. It is those very insights that this book is meant to share. Matthews has zoomed in on several traits that seem to be shared by most of the people who have reached the top of the political ladder and it is his contention that many of these traits can be applied to almost any field with the same positive results.

As Matthews passes along his hints for a successful career he shares some wonderful stories some of which are amusing and some of which are very moving. The story of Tip O'Neill's visit to the still sedated Ronald Reagan shortly the failed attempt on the president's life for example is a very moving story and Matthews does an excellent job of telling it.
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