Tip and the Gipper

When Politics Worked

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About The Book

The New York Times bestseller about the historic dealings between Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill—“A superb tribute to the neglected art of compromise” (Daily News (New York)).

Tip and the Gipper is an “entertaining and insightful” (The Wall Street Journal) history of a time when two great political opponents served together for the benefit of the country. Chris Matthews was an eyewitness to this story as top aide to Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, who waged a principled war of political ideals with President Ronald Reagan from 1980 to 1986. Together, the two men became one of history’s most celebrated political pairings—the epitome of how ideological opposites can get things done.

When Reagan was elected to the presidency in a landslide victory over Jimmy Carter, Speaker O’Neill was thrust into the national spotlight as the highest-ranking leader of the Democratic Party—the most visible and respected challenger to President Reagan’s agenda of cutting the size of government programs and lowering tax rates. Together, the two leaders fought over the major issues of the day—welfare, taxes, covert military operations, and social security—but found their way to agreements that reformed taxes, saved Social Security, and, their common cause, set a course toward peace in Northern Ireland. Through it all they maintained respect for each other’s positions and worked to advance the country rather than obstruct progress.

At the time of congressional gridlock, Tip and the Gipper stands as model behavior worthy of study by journalists, academics, and students of the political process for years to come. “This book is an invitation to join Tip and the Gipper in tall tales about how grand it was in the old country” (The Washington Post).

About The Author
Tony Powell

Chris Matthews is the host of MSNBC’s Hardball. He is the author of Jack Kennedy—Elusive Hero; Tip and the Gipper—When Politics Worked; Kennedy and Nixon; Hardball; and now Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit.

Product Details
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (October 2014)
  • Length: 448 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781451696004

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Raves and Reviews

“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

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