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Buck Up, Suck Up . . . and Come Back When You Foul Up: 12 Winning Secrets from the War Room

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  316 ratings  ·  19 reviews
The political strategists who directed the Clinton campaign's War Room reveal the lessons and secrets from their hard-fought battles -- and how to use these highly effective strategies for success in business and everyday life.

James Carville and Paul Begala have waged political war all across America and on three continents. They've won some of the most spectacular
Paperback, 224 pages
Published December 5th 2003 by Simon Schuster (first published 2002)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  316 ratings  ·  19 reviews

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Feb 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
I've read a lot of business books over the years - this is one of the few that is reality-based, not psychobabble. Good lessons, good advice.
Mar 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Great book for stragety and entertaining reading. Full of anecdotes.
Erik Rostad
Feb 18, 2017 rated it liked it
A few really good chapters in this book. One chapter dealt with understanding the difference between objectives, strategies, and tactics - a very useful tool to think about life goals and specific projects. Another chapter on communication was interesting. They used two key biblical passages to show the effectiveness of short sound-byte statements.

Interesting to read this book 15 years after it was written to see how well some of these "rules" have held up in the recent election season.
Gordon Kwok
Oct 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Mr. Begala and Mr. Carville teamed up and hit a home run on this one. Short, funny and informative -- what more can you ask for from a book? Different bits of advice on how to win elections. If you're a political junkie, this is your kind of book.
Oct 15, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: inspiration
Caught my eye when I was looking for stuff on overcoming fear. Winning secrets from the War Room, yes! But seriously, the title?! Just say "fuck up," people. I know you can't because your publisher said so, but "foul up?" :P


Mostly obvious stuff, but had some interesting backstory on politics.


p. 38--the start of the chapter on kissing ass.
"Early in his career William Faulkner had a secure job at a local post office in Mississippi. He resign abruptly despite having no other employment
Jun 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. It was not highbrow reading and maybe that is why I enjoyed it. The authors, two notable vocal left wing campaign gurus, were clear, concise and hilariously irreverent. More important, the book was non-partisan. There was as much in it for the conservative and independent as the liberal.

I may run for office one day and if or when I do, I will pick this one back up again. I have not read any of Carville and Begala's other stuff, but if this is any indication, maybe I should.
Beth Haynes
Sep 30, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is by campaign strategists for Bill Clinton and other liberal politicians. In spite of that fatal flaw, I actually learned somethings about how to promote my ideas more effectively.
Some key points:
Know your objective and don't set it too low.
People learn and remember best through stories.
Be brief, relevant and unique.
Repeat relentlessly.
Taking risks leads to success. Avoiding risk leads to stagnation.

There's more. If you want to have an effect in this world, check it out.
Sep 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
It has been quite some time since I read this book and my review may not be fair since I have lost respect for Carville due to his poor speech at the Speaker Series. Yet, my impression now is that the book was simplistic with few insights. Except for a reinforcement of common sense there is little need to read this book.
Sep 10, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, I didn't actually vote for Clinton, but seriously, who doesn't love James Carville? He's hilarious, and he's hardcore. I can take Paul Begala or leave him, but I've kind of got a crush on Carville. Note the rest of his books on this list.
David Nelson
Dec 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I am not a Democrat but found the book had many useful insights for successful campaigning (marketing). There is a lot of rough language so be warned those who have aversion to such things. Worth the time to read.
Rebecca King
Apr 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Great book by the 2 guys who ran Bill Clinton's "war room" during both presidential campaigns. These seem to be straight-talking, down-to-earth, genuine folks who can impart solid advice for politics, business, real life.
Aug 02, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: political junkies
Shelves: read-non-fiction
Carville is one of the brightest minds of the Democratic Party, and this is his ethos. His co-author, Begala, isn't dull either. It's funny, instructive, relatively fast reading that engrosses regardless of your political inclination.
Melissa Grayce
Nov 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good advice and amusing anecdotes

I have long maintained the importance of missing up. This book is a wonderful read if only for that chapter.
Paul Jensen
Feb 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Hate their political views, but the book has a good message if you can get past all of the the Clinton kow towing.
Nov 13, 2008 rated it liked it
Of all the leadership books I have read this one is at the bottom of the list. Struggling to get through it.
Kirk Bower
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Insightful.... and yes bias
Kalma Piponius
May 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Pretty good. Think it works best in politics and in workplaces, but has a little bit of american flavor to it (well, not just a little bit).
J.C. Paulk
Mar 30, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: have-read
Although it's a bit dated now, some of this is never dated. The question remains, do the authors actually believe what they wrote? If so, why can't they get other people to believe them?
Dec 24, 2011 rated it liked it
simple and great maxims to work by. loved the stories but at times too Bubba lovin'.
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James Carville is an former U.S. Marine, political consultant, commentator, actor, media personality and pundit. Known as "the Ragin' Cajun," Carville gained national attention for his work as the lead strategist of the successful presidential campaign of then-Arkansas governor Bill Clinton. Carville was the co-host of CNN's Crossfire until its final broadcast in June 2005. Since its cancellation, ...more

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“I eat babies, shit them out and use the feces that contains their mangled remains for bullet casings. Which I use to kill Republicans.

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