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Hardball: How Politics Is Played Told By One Who Knows The Game

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How politics is played by one who knows the game...host of MSNBC's Hardball, Chris Matthews. Chris Matthews has spent a quarter century on the playing field of American politics - from right-hand man of Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill to host of NBC's highest rated cable talk show Hardball. In this revised and updated edition of his political classic, he offers fascinating How politics is played by one who knows the game...host of MSNBC's Hardball, Chris Matthews. Chris Matthews has spent a quarter century on the playing field of American politics - from right-hand man of Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill to host of NBC's highest rated cable talk show Hardball. In this revised and updated edition of his political classic, he offers fascinating new stories of raw ambition, brutal rivalry, and exquisite seduction and reveals the inside rules that govern the game of power.


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How politics is played by one who knows the game...host of MSNBC's Hardball, Chris Matthews. Chris Matthews has spent a quarter century on the playing field of American politics - from right-hand man of Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill to host of NBC's highest rated cable talk show Hardball. In this revised and updated edition of his political classic, he offers fascinating How politics is played by one who knows the game...host of MSNBC's Hardball, Chris Matthews. Chris Matthews has spent a quarter century on the playing field of American politics - from right-hand man of Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill to host of NBC's highest rated cable talk show Hardball. In this revised and updated edition of his political classic, he offers fascinating new stories of raw ambition, brutal rivalry, and exquisite seduction and reveals the inside rules that govern the game of power.

30 review for Hardball: How Politics Is Played Told By One Who Knows The Game

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Kirkhoff

    I'd seen Chris Matthews' show Hardball and was really looking forward to reading his book. The title alone got me interested. The inner workings of Washington. Maybe now I'll understand why things are the way they are. I read almost half of the book and came away with only two basic premises that were repeated and exampled ad nauseum. 1. Get to know everyone you can. They could help you in the future. 2. Be nice to your enemies. They could help you in the future. This would have been a good book if I'd seen Chris Matthews' show Hardball and was really looking forward to reading his book. The title alone got me interested. The inner workings of Washington. Maybe now I'll understand why things are the way they are. I read almost half of the book and came away with only two basic premises that were repeated and exampled ad nauseum. 1. Get to know everyone you can. They could help you in the future. 2. Be nice to your enemies. They could help you in the future. This would have been a good book if Matthews made a point and backed it up with a pertinent story or two. Unfortunately, it was a story or ten. I found myself reading the first paragraph or two of a topic, then skipping to the next subject. Ok, Chris, I get your point. We've beaten the horse. Let's move on. Maybe it was his writing style that couldn't hold my interest. Who knows. After a while I got tired of it all.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Hugh

    It was what I expected. The game is about who you know. Oh yeah, and money.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    This book was given to me at Christmas as sort of a joke gift, because I like watching Chris Matthews and his irrepressible hosting of Hardball on MSNBC. I love his two-minute bellowed commentaries posing as questions, and I enjoy wondering whether Matthews will, in fact, let his guests have a turn to speak. So I was surprised to enjoy this book as much as I did--as Matthews describes it in his introduction, "This is not a civics book. It is not about pristine procedures, but about imperfect peop This book was given to me at Christmas as sort of a joke gift, because I like watching Chris Matthews and his irrepressible hosting of Hardball on MSNBC. I love his two-minute bellowed commentaries posing as questions, and I enjoy wondering whether Matthews will, in fact, let his guests have a turn to speak. So I was surprised to enjoy this book as much as I did--as Matthews describes it in his introduction, "This is not a civics book. It is not about pristine procedures, but about imperfect people. It is not an aerial judgment of how leaders of this or any country ought to behave, but an insider's view of the sometimes outrageous way they actually do. Its subject is not the grand sweep of history, but the round-the-clock scramble for position, power and survival in the city of Washington." In reading this book, I was somewhat surprised to see that the man who gleefully steamrollers over his guests--interrupting them, arguing with them, at times dismissing them--is in reality a very thoughtful, insightful, and careful observer. The book is full of funny and interesting anecdotes--but here's what I found pretty fascinating. Each chapter discusses, more or less, a principle by which successful politicians operate (e.g., "Keep Your Enemies in Front of You" or "Don't Get Mad; Don't Get Even; Get Ahead") And as I was reading this book, it struck me again and again how very closely the whole thing meshes with Barack Obama's political style in general and his presidential campaign in particular. For all the talk about Obama emulating Lincoln, it sounds very much as if he'd read this book (first written in 1988--since updated) and used it as his personal playbook. That, or else it's just a big ol' coincidence. If you are at all interested in U.S. politics, this is a fun and easy read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chrisiant

    I read this while I was in Burundi with three other Americans and a Canadian, one of whom was a 16 year-old for whom this was summer homework, otherwise I never would have picked it up. It was relatively engaging reading. Chris Matthews seems inordinately proud of himself and does everything possible to portray himself as a political insider (which he may be, but I really don't give a shit). Nevertheless, some of the "insider" anecdotes he uses are pretty fascinating, and I like the premises he I read this while I was in Burundi with three other Americans and a Canadian, one of whom was a 16 year-old for whom this was summer homework, otherwise I never would have picked it up. It was relatively engaging reading. Chris Matthews seems inordinately proud of himself and does everything possible to portray himself as a political insider (which he may be, but I really don't give a shit). Nevertheless, some of the "insider" anecdotes he uses are pretty fascinating, and I like the premises he uses to organize the book. It gets a solid "meh".

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kealii Ballao

    It's really erratic in his writing style. In his anecdotes he refers to other anecdotes that refer to other anecdotes. It's really confusing, however his layout of 11 chapter or so of detailed examples of being a Stealth politician reads like a manual for a stereo. No need to read this book from 1 to infinity, start in the middle, or open up to any page. There's something you'll learn. It's really erratic in his writing style. In his anecdotes he refers to other anecdotes that refer to other anecdotes. It's really confusing, however his layout of 11 chapter or so of detailed examples of being a Stealth politician reads like a manual for a stereo. No need to read this book from 1 to infinity, start in the middle, or open up to any page. There's something you'll learn.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Breanna Haney

    In Hardball, Chris Matthews discusses the strategies and tactics that are effective in modern day politics and a deeper look into how things roll out. He describes four ways to get people are your side and how to make alliances. -It’s not who you know; It’s who you get to know (Matthews describes how to one to one conversations and relationships are useful in politics) -All politics are local (Matthews describes how people will support you if you represent the common man) -It’s better to receive In Hardball, Chris Matthews discusses the strategies and tactics that are effective in modern day politics and a deeper look into how things roll out. He describes four ways to get people are your side and how to make alliances. -It’s not who you know; It’s who you get to know (Matthews describes how to one to one conversations and relationships are useful in politics) -All politics are local (Matthews describes how people will support you if you represent the common man) -It’s better to receive than to give (Matthews describes how politicians should let people do favors for them) -Dance with the one that brought you (Matthews describes how politicians have to be loyal and build up their reputation) I really enjoyed this book. Not only does it describe strategies in the political world but, the tactics are also very useful in everyday life. We all can relate to benefitting from something if you know someone. It is also very interesting to read the stories about past presidents and what they did to get people on their side. Lyndon B. Johnson would brush his teeth and shower several times a day just to meet as many people as he could. When discussing “It’s better to receive than to give”, Jimmy Carter would hire people who had failed on campaigns and were looking for work because he knew in the end they would do him a favor. I would definitely recommend this book to someone who is interested in the political world.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    read this for AP Gov and it was much better than I thought it would be, though the only thing that disappointed me was that because it focused so much on congress/the presidency I'm not sure how much any of these "rules" would work for women (I think they would have to be adjusted), but nevertheless, it had a lot of interesting insight. read this for AP Gov and it was much better than I thought it would be, though the only thing that disappointed me was that because it focused so much on congress/the presidency I'm not sure how much any of these "rules" would work for women (I think they would have to be adjusted), but nevertheless, it had a lot of interesting insight.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Seth

    Hardball provides a great insight into how to become a great strategy maker to achieve your goals. Mathew's chapter organization is well thought out focusing on individual topics such as "It's not who you know, but who you get to know". He uses many interesting examples and analogies to get his message across along with many stories. The book itself could have been interesting, but he likes to beat a dead horse and rambles on and on about the topic almost as if he is trying to convince himself t Hardball provides a great insight into how to become a great strategy maker to achieve your goals. Mathew's chapter organization is well thought out focusing on individual topics such as "It's not who you know, but who you get to know". He uses many interesting examples and analogies to get his message across along with many stories. The book itself could have been interesting, but he likes to beat a dead horse and rambles on and on about the topic almost as if he is trying to convince himself that he is a political insider. Surprisingly with Chris Mathew's background, it is fairly bipartisan. He talked about politicians from Lyndon B. Johnson to Ronald Reagan. I would not have read this book if I were not assigned it for a civics class and tested on it's message.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Koren

    A bit dated, but fun to look back on the political scene in the early 2000's and how it compares today. This guy has an inside track to some of our most well-known politicians. Published in 1988. I think he needs to publish an updated version. Would love to see his thoughts on GWB, Obama and Trump. A bit dated, but fun to look back on the political scene in the early 2000's and how it compares today. This guy has an inside track to some of our most well-known politicians. Published in 1988. I think he needs to publish an updated version. Would love to see his thoughts on GWB, Obama and Trump.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chris Waters

    Chris Matthews book Hardball gives you insight about the way politics work. He lets you know how recent or past presidents used different techniques to win their campaign and the hearts of their supporters. He gives example on how presidents such as Ronald Reagan was know as the great communicator. The way Ronald Reagan appealed to people he down play and try to connect with his community.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    I know: my first posting on this site is a liberal tome - what is the world coming to? But I had to read it because someone at my boys' school decided to require all my AP Government kids to read it over the summer so... Interesting political advice, easy to read and somewhat insightful. But Chris Matthews seems to think he was the President himself, and now he's deigning to share with us some of the wisdom he learned on the way up the political ladder. It's a slightly annoying tone. And it's a I know: my first posting on this site is a liberal tome - what is the world coming to? But I had to read it because someone at my boys' school decided to require all my AP Government kids to read it over the summer so... Interesting political advice, easy to read and somewhat insightful. But Chris Matthews seems to think he was the President himself, and now he's deigning to share with us some of the wisdom he learned on the way up the political ladder. It's a slightly annoying tone. And it's a little like a political self-help book. Because I don't like regular self-help books, I'm not totally captivated by this one. But someone just getting into the political world might find it entertaining and informative.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    I read this in 1990 before Chris got that bout of Malaria few years back that obviously fried his brain. This is Chris before the, he (Obama) sends shivers up my leg or the verbal diarrhea commentary at the 2012 DNC that Clinton would know how to do it, reproduce with Martians on Mars . . . Chris was sharp political mind in his earlier years and this book reflects that. This book like Chris's program Hardball way back in the day, is worth the time. If you like political books this is must read. I read this in 1990 before Chris got that bout of Malaria few years back that obviously fried his brain. This is Chris before the, he (Obama) sends shivers up my leg or the verbal diarrhea commentary at the 2012 DNC that Clinton would know how to do it, reproduce with Martians on Mars . . . Chris was sharp political mind in his earlier years and this book reflects that. This book like Chris's program Hardball way back in the day, is worth the time. If you like political books this is must read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Varmint

    my thumb kept twitching through the whole book. I was subconsciously trying to change the channel. Matthews is barely tolerable for a five minute segment. This is like being trapped on a plane with him for ten hours. There are some funny inside stories. And His political insight made me think, though I disagreed with most. Only the most hardcore of political junkies will appreciate this.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    I had to read it for AP Gov. I tolerated it. But I don't really like Chris Matthews from what I've seen of him on his show, so that created a bit of bias for me. Plus, he's a lib, and as a rock solid conservative, I feel he needs to take his opinions elsewhere. I had to read it for AP Gov. I tolerated it. But I don't really like Chris Matthews from what I've seen of him on his show, so that created a bit of bias for me. Plus, he's a lib, and as a rock solid conservative, I feel he needs to take his opinions elsewhere.

  15. 4 out of 5

    loni

    Dnf- this was a summer assignment for school that I didn’t even finished completing reading the book

  16. 4 out of 5

    Brian O'Connor

    I simultaneously had high and low hopes for this book. On the one hand, I was unaware that Chris Matthews actually worked on Capitol Hill before getting his own show on MSNBC, and I was even more surprised that he worked for none other than Tip O'Neill, the famous Democratic Speaker of the House who was Reagan's main political adversary throughout the 1980's. I was excited to learn about his personal experience on the ground in the 1970's and 1980's, around the time that the Democratic Party was I simultaneously had high and low hopes for this book. On the one hand, I was unaware that Chris Matthews actually worked on Capitol Hill before getting his own show on MSNBC, and I was even more surprised that he worked for none other than Tip O'Neill, the famous Democratic Speaker of the House who was Reagan's main political adversary throughout the 1980's. I was excited to learn about his personal experience on the ground in the 1970's and 1980's, around the time that the Democratic Party was dabbling in neoliberalism and abandoning the New Deal. Plus Matthews is a purely political guy, lacking real policy experience but good at the behind the scenes game, so I figured there would be some interesting tidbits about famous standoffs and media manipulations. While well known in political lore, Reagan is praised throughout much of the book as an excellent communicator, brander, and overall for his political savvy. Interesting to see how Reagan was over the years able to brand his extreme and harmful politics into something bland and All-American. The LBJ stories were of course hilarious and pretty insightful into how Congress worked during the hey day of New Deal politics. On the other hand, as the cheesy title of the book gives away, I was worried that a lot of this book would be filled with hackneyed advice which would be given a single anecdote of evidence and then called a golden rule. This book did not disappoint, as many of the stories that were granted star status also probably had no impact on people outside of D.C. and would have been completely forgotten except for this book. Many of the books tales are classic cases of "the winner gets to write history", where successful politicians obviously did something write in this moment, while the ones that lost their race or primary obviously messed up in that debate. Another concern I had going in was that Matthews would celebrate moderation, centrism, and "Triangulation", the (in)famous political strategy popularized by Clinton that would see him to pass Republican policies in order to claim credit for their popular ideas and also distant himself from his own party, putting himself above the political fray. What this actually resulted in was a Democratic president passing Republican policies with Republican votes. While it probably did win him a solid reelection, it also helped to push the Democratic party so far to the right that many Democrats are now afraid to stand up for their own belief and policies. It also failed to stop Republicans from winning elections in the 21st century, as evidence by Bush, the Tea Party, and Trump. This was featured in the book towards the end, which confirmed my skepticism about listening to any white middle age Democrat currently working as a lobbyist in D.C. Overall, this book is interesting more so for the political trivia and to watch a young politics wonk learn about how people in power interact with different players and institutions. It was an interesting perspective from a staffer on the front lines of the day to day political fights of the 1980's. Much of this advice is really outdated for the social media age and the age of extreme party polarization. anyone looking for a relive the glory days of retail politics in the 1980's would feel great at home here.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Janak Joshi

    Man, I thought it was going to be a book *about* Washington politics, not a “how-to” guide for being a ruthless politician. I might’ve liked it more if it was presented as a satirical 1980’s take on Machiavelli’s “Prince” with examples from Reagan and LBJ, but it appears to take itself very seriously and not be satirical at all. It seems like the book is about to tell a cool story about a politician using some cold, heartless strategy to get ahead, and then before ya know it the story’s over and Man, I thought it was going to be a book *about* Washington politics, not a “how-to” guide for being a ruthless politician. I might’ve liked it more if it was presented as a satirical 1980’s take on Machiavelli’s “Prince” with examples from Reagan and LBJ, but it appears to take itself very seriously and not be satirical at all. It seems like the book is about to tell a cool story about a politician using some cold, heartless strategy to get ahead, and then before ya know it the story’s over and the book is literally offering you, the reader, advice (In the 2nd person) on how to conduct this political maneuver... in conclusion, I was certainly NOT expecting a self-help book on how to manipulate people, and please don’t follow any of the strategies in this book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Brandon Samuels

    Overall I really enjoyed reading this book and I think it’s a great introduction into politics. I learned a lot from Matthew’s experiences in politics and I enjoyed his perspective. I didn’t give this five stars because I didn’t always enjoy the structure of the writing. There are SO MANY stories in this book and at times I feel like some of them end short or are too small to be left in this book. With all the different stories I felt that sometimes it was hard to comprehend everything Chris was Overall I really enjoyed reading this book and I think it’s a great introduction into politics. I learned a lot from Matthew’s experiences in politics and I enjoyed his perspective. I didn’t give this five stars because I didn’t always enjoy the structure of the writing. There are SO MANY stories in this book and at times I feel like some of them end short or are too small to be left in this book. With all the different stories I felt that sometimes it was hard to comprehend everything Chris was saying. In the end, this book felt dense and it took me longer than expected to get through. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mark Comia

    Never knew who Chris Matthews was til I read this book. Being my first book about politics, Chris did a thorough job describing what political campaigns are like from inside out, like how a sports journalist would talk about how baseball works. Sportsmanship is a pertinent principle. Know it and live by it so that we can be at our best, even if we lose, to reach best outcomes. One thing different now that I read from the book, women are also politicians and probably fiercer than others

  20. 4 out of 5

    Brennon

    An okay book. I was assigned this book as part of a Political Science course in college. I found Matthews to be a bit a pretentious jackass, trying to be some sort of modern Machiavelli. Matthews spent to much time humble bragging and name-dropping about all the people he "knew" while working in politics. It got tiresome to read, and a bit repetitive. An okay book. I was assigned this book as part of a Political Science course in college. I found Matthews to be a bit a pretentious jackass, trying to be some sort of modern Machiavelli. Matthews spent to much time humble bragging and name-dropping about all the people he "knew" while working in politics. It got tiresome to read, and a bit repetitive.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Olivia Moffa

    SO. MANY. ANECDOTES. Long after Matthews has proved his point, the anecdotes go on and on, somewhat unnecessarily, which detracts from his excellent political insight.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

    Matthews does an extremely good job of not only displaying the rules of politics in action, but also showing the reader how applicable these rules are to gaining power in any facet of society.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Taylor Manookian

    Awful. One star. Hideously boring. Read in 4 days (Had to read for AP gov)

  24. 4 out of 5

    the.ravenry

    Read for summer work. Honestly 10/10. I loved the storytelling aspect of the book and the chance to learn about how Matthews got to where he is.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    Chris Matthews provides a glimpse into the toolbox of Washington's most gifted pols. A revelation. These work in business, too. Chris Matthews provides a glimpse into the toolbox of Washington's most gifted pols. A revelation. These work in business, too.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    Interesting book about some of the inter workings of politics.

  27. 4 out of 5

    John Waldrip

    I am not a fan of his politics, but I am an admirer of this great little book. No one has any business thinking himself politically astute who has not read this book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jaafer Ahmed

    Boring History class in a 224 paged book

  29. 5 out of 5

    Pamela Reband

    A fascinating insight into a world so few of us understand. AND entertaining.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Iscritto Iscritti

    Very good book for people like me who didn't know anything about Washington... . Very good book for people like me who didn't know anything about Washington... .

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