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Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked Hardcover – October 1, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (October 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451695993
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451695991
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (224 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #241,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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


“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)

Customer Reviews

I am a hugh fan of Chris Matthews' books.
With today's politics it was great to read how politics can work when politicians use common sense..
John H. Bisbocci
Very informative, well written and entertaining - substance, style and message.
Nadia Ivanova

Most Helpful 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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Gary Young on December 2, 2013
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Ries on October 7, 2014
Format: Paperback
The political give and take between “Tip and The Gipper” is the subject of Chris Matthews’ best-selling book. The host of MSNBC’s Hardball is gives a first-hand account of how the Democratic Speaker of the House worked with and fought against the iconic Republican President for six years.

Although Matthews writes about both men, his majority point-of-view is from Speaker Tip O’Neill who he served as chief of staff. However this doesn't make the book a tale of the heroic O’Neill facing off with the villainous Reagan, instead it was of two men from opposite points on the American political spectrum who held true to their convictions while still finding room to compromise with one another. Matthews’ give insightful biographies of both men to hints about how both men thought when dealing with the domestic and foreign policy issues they faced.

Throughout the book Matthews does insert himself into narrative of events, since he was a part of the Speaker’s staff and author of the book this should is not an overall negative aspect of the book. The path Matthews took in his career leading to his position on the Speaker’s staff and many of his earlier exploits are interesting, but in the latter half of the book some of his own biographical items are just filler that didn’t need to be included. Unfortunately most of the second half of the book seems Matthews is trying to extend his book with examples between the end of 1983 to the beginning of 1986.

Overall, “Tip and The Gipper” is a fun, informative read especially when focused from 1981 to 1983. Matthew’s writing is engaging and keeps the book moving, even though the rough patches in the latter half of the book.

I received this book free via Goodreads First Reads program.
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19 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Mr. T.W. Hughes on October 24, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Actually disappointing read. I finished the book but the lack of details, of interesting stories, etc. left me sorry I had purchased it. Too much about the author and too little in the details and/or interesting stories.
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44 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Patrick L Metcalf on October 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The concept of this book is fantastic. Never have we been more in need of dynamic political leaders who could reach across the aisle to compromise and find solutions in the best interest of the nation, and Reagan and O'Neil did just that. But this book is a guerilla autobiography about Chris Matthews. There are a few interesting points, some really long dull sections, lots of Matthew's partisan rhetoric, and some pretty scant research. The bulk of the info on Reagan came from Reagan's diaries, which are obviously available to the public. The title should be "Chris Matthew's talking about how awesome he thinks he is, and how much he likes Tip O'Neil and dislikes Reagan". It's fairly absurd that someone so partisan and so willing to say stuff that is utterly unfounded is trying to lecture anyone on how both sides need to come to the middle. Frankly, Matthews should take his own advice. Maybe his ratings would improve. In a word, I would describe this book as "disappointing".
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Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked
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