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

3.44 of 5 stars 3.44  ·  rating details  ·  917 ratings  ·  84 reviews
How politics is played by one who knows the game...

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, bru...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published November 2nd 1999 by Free Press (first published 1988)
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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...more
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...more
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...more
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.
Kate Brennan
It was what I expected. The game is about who you know. Oh yeah, and money.
May 20, 2008 Bethany rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: aspiring Machiavellis
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...more
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 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.
Politics is useless. Wouldn't have read it if I had not been forced against my will by my government teacher.
Juergen John Roscher
The non-fiction book Hardball by Chris Matthews confirmed many of my fears about politicians and the culture of power and corruption in the U.S. House and Senate. The three star rating was not so much a reflection of Matthew’s writing but the content of the book. Mathews is a fine writer and provided many great examples of the tools that politicians use. The book confirmed that the longer a politician is in Washington D.C. the more he doesn’t represent his constituents but get caught up in the g...more
Loyola University Chicago Libraries
Hardball is like a big bag of popcorn for fans of American political theater. Originally written in 1988, the book has been 'revised and updated' (dates unspecific) to now loosely cover the Kennedy era through Bill Clinton’s second term, offering funny, stunning, smart, and cruel political anecdotes from both the Legislative and Executive branches. Rather than come at you chronologically, Hardball is organized under chapter headings that, while maybe novel in '88, seem like second nature now, pe...more
Hardball is, without a doubt, an informative and entertaining book. It offers insight into, as he puts it, how politics is really played. However, what it turned into was a guidebook. Like Matthews remarks in the first paragraph of his introduction, "I had no idea this book would become a classic, that many hard-nosed politicians would employ it as their bible, that CEOs would be caught carrying it in their briefcases, that young people set on bright careers would cherish their copies as if the...more
Hardball is like a big bag of popcorn for fans of American political theater. Originally written in 1988, the book has been ‘revised and updated’ (dates unspecific) to now loosely cover the Kennedy era through Bill Clinton’s second term, offering funny, stunning, smart, and cruel political anecdotes from both the Legislative and Executive branches. Rather than come at you chronologically, Hardball is organized under chapter headings that, while maybe novel in ‘88, seem like second nature now, pe...more
Charlie Ramirez
Hardball is one of those books that is able to cross the political realm and apply to all aspects of your life. His use of a quote before every chapter teaches me how to utilize quotations from credible sources to enhance the overall meaning, but not necessarily using them within the text or conversationally. His voice is clear and aggressive, almost as if he has taken the role of teacher. By using excessive punctuation, he has been able to add personality to his voice. (Things like italicizing...more
I had to read this in high school and even at the time I thought it was pretty good, but looking back the strategies of politicians he talks about in this book are incredibly accurate. What's more interesting is that there are several lessons you can learn about how to utilize political strategies in your regular social life and ways you can be efficient in achieving your goals. He also uses several examples of situations he saw first-hand and writes about the strategy behind the situations that...more
There was some good advice in this book that I feel that I can apply to my life as long as I take the advice with my own way of viewing life. The latter chapters were a bit harder to understand than the earlier ones.
This is a very popular book about the working of politics and is perhaps not the best written/researched book, but it is very engaging for a political read (not always an easy feat). The book offers keen and controversial analyses on the operating of our modern political system. It is a good read for government AP students. We just used a sections of it in class pertaining to media because Matthews offers some really scathing analyses that sparks student interest and discussion. Matthews does wr...more
Rosa Gaerlan
Nov 30, 2011 Rosa Gaerlan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Rosa by: Tom Huff
Shelves: politics
This was a great book to read to learn about politics in general. I appreciated how he used political situations to cast light in everyday situations as well. However, it does leave you feeling that there is a lot of contrived activity in Washington and in order to survive, only those smart enough in playing Hard Ball survives. It makes me think that politicians do start out wanting to be public servants but to stay on, will need to learn how to play the game to keep their position of power. sad...more
Sean McBride
I read this one for the election season because I wanted to get a better understanding of why the pols were doing what they were doing. At first I was a little ambivalent, I was enjoying his style, but it seemed a little too anecdotal for me, but as I delved deeper into the book I came to have a greater feeling not just for positioning, but for the past 50 years of politics and how people perceive their elected officials. Honestly I feel that anyone who votes should read this book, if only to ha...more
Jim Blessing
Although outdated, this was an interesting read from Chris Matthews.
Hunter Hamilton
As a conservative, I was skeptical going into this book, suspecting that it would be some sort of assault on the political right. To my very pleasant surprise, I found Matthews's book to be a fascinating expose on the great sport of politics which played it straight, highlighting master practitioners of the sport from both the left and the right. And I was especially surprised that Matthews seemed to paint a much more positive portrait of the great Ronald Reagan than he did his former boss Jimmy...more
Aug 12, 2014 Andy added it
Great book... political classic
Sean Pfile
Must read political handbook.
I had to read this book for my AP Gov class. At first, just looking at the cover I had an immediate reaction to yawn. It looks like one of those books that preaches and drones about politics in fancy and riddling words that make you go, huh? But I was strangely surprised. I felt like this book made me think in a new light about the game of politics. I liked that the author actually made learning about politics easier with his simplified descriptions and understandable jargon.
There was a lot to like about Hardball: it was interesting and incredibly detailed. My main issue with it, however, was how disjointed it was. Sure, the chapters had themes, but when writing about them, Matthews jumped from one anecdote to the next with almost no transitions. Despite the fact that each story was supposedly about the same sort of concept, they felt barely linked. It was jarring at the very least, and made reading the book a chore.
I read this for AP Gov and it was a great book to get a little background info on the US Government system. I learned so much about it. It was not boring, but full of hilarious content (historical events). If you want to freshen up on a little on the US Government, it is a must read.

My favorite part was when LBH (our president) took four to five showers a day to meet and converse with other officals. Genius!!!!
Luisa Arias
Excellent book packed with anecdotes and examples to illustrate the rules of the political game. Though there are many comments on the narcissism of Chris Matthews, I don't find any evidence of it in his best selling book. He's simply writing what he knows, and he knows politics. Greatly recommended.
Innovative when it was published, Hardball has become so central to the teachings of political science that its tenets seem to most contemporary readers like givens. Still, it was worth it for all the political anecdotes and illustrations Matthews uses throughout the book. His first-hand experience with the Carter administration and with Speaker Tip O'Neil make for interesting behind the scenes reading.
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.
Aug 28, 2012 Liz rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Liz by: CRM 6100
I was surprised that I liked this book at all and really liked it a lot. It was required for my introductory class in Coastal Resources Managment, taught by a political scientist / program director. The book was a disturbing eye-opening account of how it actually works in D.C. behind closed doors. I shudder. But I guess it's better to know than not.
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Christopher "Chris" Matthews is an American news anchor and political commentator, known for his nightly hour-long talk show, Hardball with Chris Matthews, which is televised on the American cable television channel MSNBC. On weekends he hosts the syndicated NBC News-produced panel discussion program, The Chris Matthews Show. Matthews makes frequent appearances on many NBC and MSNBC programs. On M...more
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