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Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged

4.1 out of 5 stars 234 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

As a top aide to House Speaker Tip O’Neill, Matthews was an eyewitness to the accord that O’Neill and President Ronald Reagan managed to forge in the 1980s, despite their polar-opposite political convictions. Reagan, the conservative former California governor, was a Washington outsider, while O’Neill was a consummate insider, with 28 years on the hill by the time Reagan took office in 1980. The California conservative and the Boston liberal were iconic figures with strong convictions, political savvy, and Irish charm that helped them bridge the gap to deliver on issues including welfare, taxes, covert military operations, and Social Security. Following the assassination attempt on Reagan, O’Neill was the first person to be admitted to the president’s bedside for a private visit, and it was O’Neill whom Reagan tapped to hand-deliver a letter asking Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev for a meeting that led to the end of the Cold War. Political commentator Matthews details their different backgrounds and the stumbles and ultimate successes that brought both men to Washington, where they were able to put aside their differences to govern the nation. --Vanessa Bush --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“A superb tribute to the neglected art of compromise.” (Stanley Crouch New York Daily News)

"[A] gripping, behind-the-scenes, first-person account. . . . Though he was a front-row participant in the story, he admirably adopts an even-handed approach (not shying away from pointing out O'Neill's missteps) to serve up his big point: political combat is necessary and important for the nation, but it need not be self-destructive and nuclear. . . . Matthews is providing a public service by recounting an era when even the most ardent partisan gladiators could bend toward pragmatism." (David Corn Mother Jones)

“A fortuitous pairing of subject and author. . . Matthews’s account is pleasant reading, both useful and entertaining. . . The book succeeds in making Boehner’s, or the tea party’s, House look like a confederacy of dunces, addicted to 'government by tantrum.' Praise for Reagan’s skill at reaching across party lines also contrasts with President Obama’s stand-offish image. Their clashes looked feverish at the time, but this book is an invitation to join Tip and the Gipper in tall tales about how grand it was in the old country." (Howell Raines Washington Post)

"Chris Matthews draws on his 30-year-old journals for [a] rich new book on Ronald Reagan, Tip O'Neill" (Mike Allen Politico.com)

"Matthews gives us an engaging, inside perspective (with creditable modesty about his own important role) of the mighty struggle between Ronald Reagan and Speaker Tip O'Neill, and how they bent, when they had to, to the national interest. There are many books written by Reagan's White House staffers, but this is the only account (aside from O'Neill's charming memoir) from inside the Speaker's office, and a valuable addition to American political history." (John Farrell author of Tip O'Neill and the Democratic Century)

"Amiable but tough-minded. . . . a solid book." (Kirkus) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Audio CD: 10 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio; Unabridged edition (October 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442368667
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442368668
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 5.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (234 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #929,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wow, could the timing be any better for this book from TV personality and "Hardball" host Chris Matthews? His book hit the store shelves on the first day of the 2013 "Government Shutdown", with our domestic politics dominated by the political impasse between our terminally dysfunctional Congress and White House. It offers us the stark contrast of a detailed look at how politics worked back in the 1980's, when the House of Representatives was led by Speaker Tip O'Neill (D-Mass), Ronald Reagan ("The Gipper" **) was our President, and the two parties could actually work together to get things done despite the vast differences in their views.

Tip O'Neill's service in the U.S. House of Representatives began in 1953 (he had been elected in 1952) representing Massachusetts's 11th district (succeeding John F. Kennedy who was newly Senator-elect). He became Majority Whip in 1971, was House Majority Leader from 1973 to 1977, and was Speaker of the House from 1977 until his retirement in 1987. To those of us who still remember those days, he is one of the most colorful and prominent leaders from late 20th century U.S. politics. Ideologically, he was strongly Liberal, with strong views against the war in Vietnam, and he favored Democratic proposed programs such as universal health care and jobs programs.

After serving in the House beginning with the Eisenhower administration, continuing through Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon, and having held leadership positions in the House during the administrations of Nixon, Ford and Carter, Tip O'Neill was at the apex of his career, the most senior Congressional leader in Washington D.C., leading the Democrat-controlled House as Republican Ronald Reagan took office following the 1980 election.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book was a disappointment. It only scratches the surface - just bullet points. Seems this was a rush job (no pun intended) to take advantage of the dynamics of the current political situation for book sales.

Also, I am left wondering whether this should be titled CHRIS MATTHEWS and Tip and the Gipper. This tendency for the writer to insert themselves in the writing of their subject(s) is disturbing. You are left wondering whether he is documenting a relationship or superimposing an analysis. Would this have been the same if the current political situation displayed a different manner of discourse among politicians.

His Kennedy was much better and very informative.
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Format: Paperback
At its best, this is less a political history than an opportunistic self-promotion piece for Chris Matthews, who seems intent on inserting himself into a decades-old narrative in which he was, at most, a marginalized bit-player.

Reagan and O'Neill were far from the best buddies portrayed in Matthews' fan fiction. O’Neill called Reagan's election “sinful,” said Reagan would have made a better “king” than a president and that Reagan was the “worst president" of his lifetime. He attacked Reagan's characterization of Soviets as "godless" and “evil” (never mind the USSR's brutality toward religion and genocide of millions). In 1984, O’Neill told Senator Mondale that he must prevail in that year's Presidential election to “remove the evil in the White House.” It is instructive that, for his part, Reagan did not attend O'Neill's funeral in 1994 - although later that year he did attend the funeral of President Nixon. Neither of these men was the amiable, back-slapping Paddy in Matthews' caricature: Peers characterized O'Neill as a bare-knuckles brawler, and Reagan confidantes saw a resilient, stubborn man who was "amiably ruthless" in his dealings.

"Hardball" Chris Matthews is a pixie poseur by comparison. Matthews didn't broker compromises or serve as any sort of go-between between the President and the Speaker as far as contemporaneous news archives disclose. His name isn't even mentioned in "Man of the House," nor in Reagan's diaries from the period, nor in any other important books about the 1980s. Matthews clearly wishes his readers to believe he was a crucial part of the politics of those years, but the history simply does not bear him out.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm both amused and saddened when delving into American politics lately. It happened again due to Chris Matthews' "Tip and the Gipper," but not because of the book. It was some of the reviewers on Amazon who no doubt, simply saw that the "Hardball" host wrote a book. They assumed it was more shock-jock drivel, gave it one star, and advised me not to waste my time.

Here's my bias: I was born in 1957, and I think Ronald Reagan is by far, the best president of my lifetime. Matthews' treatment of him in this book was fair. In fact, Matthews' fairness, even admiration of the Gipper (if grudging, as he'd easily admit) helps Matthews to come off as a pretty good historian here. The last 1/3 of the book consists of end-notes that tie his recounting of facts back to primary and secondary sources, including the personal diaries of both men. I remember the '80s well. I think Matthews gets the history (mostly) right.

Matthews' success at conveying the complex personal dynamic between Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan, makes the book memorable. Brotherly one moment, they could tear each other to shreds in the next. From Matthews' perspective, the brotherly impulse, and the lofty principles each man held that propelled them into public service, trumped most often in both these men's hearts.

Here's one of many passages from the book that make it worth reading and reflecting on. Matthews, at the time Tip O'Neill's media advisor, writes about Reagan's televised speech to America the day after the space shuttle Challenger disaster in January, 1986:

"I watched the president's speech, sitting next to the Speaker. He was as moved as anyone could have been... 'As I listened to him,' Tip would write, "I had a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat.
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