Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked by Chris Matthews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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.
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