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This Country

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In This Country, Chris Matthews offers a panoramic portrait of post-World War II America through the story of his remarkable life and career. It is a story of risk and adventure, of self-reliance and service, of loyalty and friendship. It is a story driven by an abiding faith in our country. Raised in a large Irish-Catholic family in Philadelphia at a time when kids hid und In This Country, Chris Matthews offers a panoramic portrait of post-World War II America through the story of his remarkable life and career. It is a story of risk and adventure, of self-reliance and service, of loyalty and friendship. It is a story driven by an abiding faith in our country. Raised in a large Irish-Catholic family in Philadelphia at a time when kids hid under their desks in atomic war drills, Chris's life etched a pattern: take a leap, live an adventure, then learn what it means. As a young Peace Corps graduate, Chris moved to DC and began knocking on doors on Capitol Hill. With dreams of becoming what Ted Sorensen had been for Jack Kennedy, Chris landed as a staffer to Utah Senator Frank Moss, where his eyes were opened to the game of big-league politics. In the 1970s, Matthews mounted a campaign for Congress as a Democratic maverick running against Philadelphia's old political machine. He didn't win the most votes, but his grit put him on the path to a top job in the White House. As a speechwriter for President Carter, Matthews witnessed the triumphs and tragedies of that administration; from the diplomatic brilliance of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty to the disaster of the Iran hostage crisis. After Carter's defeat, Chris became chief of staff to legendary Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill, a perch that gave him an on-the-job PhD in American politics during the Reagan years. Chris then leapt to the other side of the political matrix as a columnist and reporter. For the San Francisco Examiner, he covered the fall of the Berlin Wall, the first all-races election in South Africa, the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland, and every American presidency from Reagan to George W. Bush. Chris would go on to pioneer cable news with a fast-paced, no-nonsense television program. His show, Hardball with Chris Matthews, would become a political institution for twenty years. As Chris charts his political odyssey, he paints an energetic picture of a nation searching for its soul. He reflects with grace and wisdom, showcasing the grand arc of the American story through one life dedicated to its politics. A sweeping memoir of American politics and history from Chris Matthews, New York Times bestselling author and former host of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews.


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In This Country, Chris Matthews offers a panoramic portrait of post-World War II America through the story of his remarkable life and career. It is a story of risk and adventure, of self-reliance and service, of loyalty and friendship. It is a story driven by an abiding faith in our country. Raised in a large Irish-Catholic family in Philadelphia at a time when kids hid und In This Country, Chris Matthews offers a panoramic portrait of post-World War II America through the story of his remarkable life and career. It is a story of risk and adventure, of self-reliance and service, of loyalty and friendship. It is a story driven by an abiding faith in our country. Raised in a large Irish-Catholic family in Philadelphia at a time when kids hid under their desks in atomic war drills, Chris's life etched a pattern: take a leap, live an adventure, then learn what it means. As a young Peace Corps graduate, Chris moved to DC and began knocking on doors on Capitol Hill. With dreams of becoming what Ted Sorensen had been for Jack Kennedy, Chris landed as a staffer to Utah Senator Frank Moss, where his eyes were opened to the game of big-league politics. In the 1970s, Matthews mounted a campaign for Congress as a Democratic maverick running against Philadelphia's old political machine. He didn't win the most votes, but his grit put him on the path to a top job in the White House. As a speechwriter for President Carter, Matthews witnessed the triumphs and tragedies of that administration; from the diplomatic brilliance of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty to the disaster of the Iran hostage crisis. After Carter's defeat, Chris became chief of staff to legendary Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill, a perch that gave him an on-the-job PhD in American politics during the Reagan years. Chris then leapt to the other side of the political matrix as a columnist and reporter. For the San Francisco Examiner, he covered the fall of the Berlin Wall, the first all-races election in South Africa, the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland, and every American presidency from Reagan to George W. Bush. Chris would go on to pioneer cable news with a fast-paced, no-nonsense television program. His show, Hardball with Chris Matthews, would become a political institution for twenty years. As Chris charts his political odyssey, he paints an energetic picture of a nation searching for its soul. He reflects with grace and wisdom, showcasing the grand arc of the American story through one life dedicated to its politics. A sweeping memoir of American politics and history from Chris Matthews, New York Times bestselling author and former host of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews.

30 review for This Country

  1. 4 out of 5

    Donald Powell

    Chris Matthews displays his honesty and pugnacity in this pleasant memoir. Hs zeal to find the debate, the controversy, rings through each chapter. HIs ethical, ambitious drive is also apparent. He had a great upbringing and his sense of right and wrong, as always, seems to be a guiding beacon. American history from World War II to date is chronicled from the perspective of a journalist seeking the "gotcha". This was an interesting and entertaining view. His inquisitive but informed perspective h Chris Matthews displays his honesty and pugnacity in this pleasant memoir. Hs zeal to find the debate, the controversy, rings through each chapter. HIs ethical, ambitious drive is also apparent. He had a great upbringing and his sense of right and wrong, as always, seems to be a guiding beacon. American history from World War II to date is chronicled from the perspective of a journalist seeking the "gotcha". This was an interesting and entertaining view. His inquisitive but informed perspective has been a blessing to us all as readers/viewers of the political news.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Brian Willis

    Matthews, after writing bios of JFK and RFK, as well as a focus on the working partnership of Reagan and Tip O'Neill - his former boss, turns the spotlight on his own life as a political junkie. How does one discover they want to be in politics? How do they go about getting their foot in the door? What happens when they do and how do they continue to opine on their political passions in this day and age? Chris Matthews does keep a pretty tight focus on his own development as a political advisor a Matthews, after writing bios of JFK and RFK, as well as a focus on the working partnership of Reagan and Tip O'Neill - his former boss, turns the spotlight on his own life as a political junkie. How does one discover they want to be in politics? How do they go about getting their foot in the door? What happens when they do and how do they continue to opine on their political passions in this day and age? Chris Matthews does keep a pretty tight focus on his own development as a political advisor and later as a journalist. We see the pretty typical life of an Irish Catholic American growing up in Pennsylvania, who has loving parents and brothers. Matthews grew up in a Republican household and one enmeshed in deep Cold War politics. It was JFK who started to change Matthews into a Democrat, but one still hawkish on the spread of communism (as JFK was). He tells how he witnessed the chaos of the 1968 Democratic convention and the implosion of the Democratic Party in the 70s. He works for Jimmy Carter in the White House and then later for Tip O'Neill in the House leadership as an aide. Then he shifts into a journalist, writing for the San Francisco Examiner, as well as beginning to become a television personality, first on The McLaughlin Group, then on his own shows including Hard Ball. He also has a healthy dose of personal life stuff, and I found his account of working in Africa for the Peace Corps moving and honest. Despite some shots by the right wing media, Matthews is a fairly straightforward left of center political commentator and this is a breezy and fascinating read of his career. He believes straightforward in the progressivism of the Democratic Party in social issues but is still an old school "hawk" in foreign policy, not so much in waging war but being tough on wrong doing abroad. It's not very contentious at all, and should be read by his fans or even keel fans of political journalists and politics behind the scenes. The only venom is his brief chapter on - you guessed it - Trump. He criticizes some Democratic moves and he praises some Republicans personally (the George H.W. Bush story is personal and moving). He is also honest when Republicans had great moments of communication and/or politics, or criticizes any President when they made what he perceives as a bad move politically or morally. To his credit, Matthews also documents how he saw those moves at the time they were made and not with the benefit of hindsight, and addresses the moments where even he got it a little wrong. Really good overview of a very recognizable television political personality as he moves into more of an "emeritus" role on tv.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tony Siciliano

    I followed Chris Matthews for many years. I understood his Democratic leanings but always found him a treasure of political insight. I will still read any book he writes because of the wonderful history he provides. Matthews recalls a lecture given by the Washington Post's David Broder. The speaker urged journalism to keep its distance from government, to avoid the seduction it offered, that the "bed hopping" between the two roles threatened the cherished role of independent journalism. I wish M I followed Chris Matthews for many years. I understood his Democratic leanings but always found him a treasure of political insight. I will still read any book he writes because of the wonderful history he provides. Matthews recalls a lecture given by the Washington Post's David Broder. The speaker urged journalism to keep its distance from government, to avoid the seduction it offered, that the "bed hopping" between the two roles threatened the cherished role of independent journalism. I wish Matthews had followed that advice. "Hardball" often became an opportunity for Matthews to fire staccato questions at guests with whom he disagreed politically, never providing that guest an opportunity to respond. His treatment of of his political friends was breathtakingly different, asking the soft questions designed to provide a "halo" effect for the guest. My impression of him changed over some years and I could no longer take him seriously as an honest and objective observer of this nation's political discourse. Perhaps he deserves all the self-congratulations about "sensing" who would win this or that election, how he always knew the temperature of the body politic, even how he knew early on who would be elected Pope after John Paul II's death. Perhaps. The sad end of his career resembles that of so many men, trapped between periods of changing mores and the often careless disregard of women. He rightfully apologizes for his behavior and continues to praise and to damn all the people that most of his fellow journalists praise and damn. He sees a bright future for his country, even as we see journalism neutered as an open forum for conflicting ideas. Journalism is no longer sacred and unique in our society. It has merely taken one side of a nation at war with itself, where politics and journalism have the effrontery to take on the mantle of moral certitude, and is now merely part of the screaming, unreasoning mob.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mary Ann

    This is the most personal of Matthews's books, and I appreciated the story of how his politics developed and evolved since his boyhood; it closely mirrors my own. He is a talented and insightful writer as anyone knows who has read his previous works (my personal favorite is Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit) or followed his San Francisco Examiner columns which were widely syndicated throughout the country. It's an easy and enjoyable read. An excellent and comprehensive review by Brian Willis from Ju This is the most personal of Matthews's books, and I appreciated the story of how his politics developed and evolved since his boyhood; it closely mirrors my own. He is a talented and insightful writer as anyone knows who has read his previous works (my personal favorite is Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit) or followed his San Francisco Examiner columns which were widely syndicated throughout the country. It's an easy and enjoyable read. An excellent and comprehensive review by Brian Willis from June 16, 2021 https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    If you are a "Hardball" fan, (I am not) you may find this a piece of edifying literature; else it's little more than a work of left-leaning screed. Matthews allows that he was once a Barry Goldwater conservative, and he even admits that the "getting a thrill up his leg" comment about Obama was less than his finest hour. Vignettes that included being an Irish pol were explanatory. Over all pretty forgettable. If you are a "Hardball" fan, (I am not) you may find this a piece of edifying literature; else it's little more than a work of left-leaning screed. Matthews allows that he was once a Barry Goldwater conservative, and he even admits that the "getting a thrill up his leg" comment about Obama was less than his finest hour. Vignettes that included being an Irish pol were explanatory. Over all pretty forgettable.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Phil

    I really enjoyed Chris Matthew's walk through the major events of the baby boomer generation from the perspective of his seat in government and media. From Kennedy v Nixon to the debacle of Trump, along with personal memoir, he moves from moment to moment. Matthews has always come through as the voice of everyman. It's no different here. The narrative flows easily. I really enjoyed Chris Matthew's walk through the major events of the baby boomer generation from the perspective of his seat in government and media. From Kennedy v Nixon to the debacle of Trump, along with personal memoir, he moves from moment to moment. Matthews has always come through as the voice of everyman. It's no different here. The narrative flows easily.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Carole

    I have to admit that I really enjoy(ed) Chris Matthews ever since I first saw him on Hardball. He alleviated my homesickness for Philadelphia and most of the time shared similar viewpoints to my own. That Philly accent always kept me in touch with who I really am/was even after all these years in south Florida. It is also nice to read a memoir written by someone who has lived a completely different life, but experienced all of the same major world events, and hear his experience and feelings abou I have to admit that I really enjoy(ed) Chris Matthews ever since I first saw him on Hardball. He alleviated my homesickness for Philadelphia and most of the time shared similar viewpoints to my own. That Philly accent always kept me in touch with who I really am/was even after all these years in south Florida. It is also nice to read a memoir written by someone who has lived a completely different life, but experienced all of the same major world events, and hear his experience and feelings about those. I find Chris Matthews to be pretty refreshing, sort of still an innocent non-cynical person. Perhaps this is because he had a pretty normal family life with two parents and lots of sibs and married a normal person and has normal kids. I hope Chris knows what a great life he has, and I wish him the best that this life continues. This book was written in the chronological order of Chris's life. He has had so many interesting and exciting choices to make, and so many times his life could have turned out completely differently, but somehow he found his way to where he really wanted to go -- all the time -- and found the love of his life too! Anyone who likes/liked Chris Matthews on Hardball will enjoy reading this. It is fun and very readable and even informative. There are tales you probably and experiences with famous people that you probably never heard before. It really bothers me that he had to "retire" because of "inappropriate comments". That crap just drives me crazy. He may have been outdated, but he certainly had a loyal audience, and even though I am also an old person, I cringed sometimes at the things he said to female guests -- but I also cringed sometimes at the things he said to male guests. It's like when Biden referred to Obama as "articulate" -- that kind of cringing. I don't think Chris went beyond the making women cringe at things he said -- anyway, this cancel culture crap has got to stop. I thank Chris for sharing his life memories, and congratulate him on a terrific life. I also thank him for sharing those 20 years of Hardball with his audience.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Allen Stebbins

    I was a Hardball fan, so a Matthews fan too. I wasn’t to sure of how to characterize his book but in the end I came to feel it was his love letter to America.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Everydayreader1

    Like so many of us, I've watched Chris Matthews for years on television. Until a few years ago, I hadn't read any of his books. When I read "Bobby Kennedy: Raging Spirit," I was fascinated by his writing. In my view, he brought Bobby Kennedy to life. In "This Country," though autobiographical, he does the same thing for himself. His reflections, his forthrightness, his ability to capture and analyze moments, and his tenacious quest for the truth, make this book an excellent read, no matter ones p Like so many of us, I've watched Chris Matthews for years on television. Until a few years ago, I hadn't read any of his books. When I read "Bobby Kennedy: Raging Spirit," I was fascinated by his writing. In my view, he brought Bobby Kennedy to life. In "This Country," though autobiographical, he does the same thing for himself. His reflections, his forthrightness, his ability to capture and analyze moments, and his tenacious quest for the truth, make this book an excellent read, no matter ones political persuasion. One thing that struck me, several times over, as I read this book, is how the collective history he has witnessed can be of such benefit to us now, and generations to come. Without knowing and understanding where we've come from, we can't make the future better. I was struck by the idea, expressed multiple times, in many different phrases, that we need to fully know and appreciate where we've been to be able to move forward. That, to me, is the lesson of this book. One reason I love to read is, if a book is truly excellent, it is a lesson to me. The take aways from it don't end when I finish the last page. They stay in my mind and heart and percolate over time. I hope this book does that for you. I hope it causes you to think. I hope it causes you to imagine a better world. I hope it causes you to stay invested in this wonderful country of ours. I hope it causes you to participate in the political process—to vote or run for office, whatever that is for you. I hope it causes you to tear up when you think about the Statue of Liberty and other historical representations. Why? Because, they are part of America. They are part of who we are. In that same way, Chris Matthews and this book are part of who we are. Happy reading!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    4+ Chris Matthews writes well. He has been a professional speech writer, journalist, and TV commentator for more than 40 years. He has always been outspoken and sometimes brash. I often agree with him...but not always. I do believe that he tells it as he sees it, and takes responsibility for his mistakes. He is not a perfect man, but I believe he is a sincere and honest one. I am glad that I took this trip with him back over his career and the political and world events that surrounded it. It was 4+ Chris Matthews writes well. He has been a professional speech writer, journalist, and TV commentator for more than 40 years. He has always been outspoken and sometimes brash. I often agree with him...but not always. I do believe that he tells it as he sees it, and takes responsibility for his mistakes. He is not a perfect man, but I believe he is a sincere and honest one. I am glad that I took this trip with him back over his career and the political and world events that surrounded it. It was a reflection of the background of my own life over these years, from the perspective of one who was more involved and aware of the nuances that were not part of my daily existence. He was as passionate about his profession as I was about my very different one. Yet we were both a part of the same history, impacted by the personalities and events that determined our futures. This is a relatively short book, but it surveyed more than 50 years. It's an album of snapshots, each of which is worthy of its own detailed investigation. There is little deep analysis here, but that was not Matthews' purpose. This was instead one man's personal high altitude view of the second half of 20th century America and the opening decades of the 21st. The years themselves sped by as did the pages of this book. I recommend it either as a review of these times or an introduction to them.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Susan Tunis

    This is not a proper review. While I was listening to this audiobook, yes, there were a lot of things about Mr. Mathews' early life and career that I didn't know. His background was interesting. But mostly I couldn't get past a feeling that I didn't want to give this old, white man any more attention. There's something about him, and the generation and demographic he epitomizes that I'm just sick of listening to. His career went out with the ultimate whimper, and not a bang. I hear absolutely no This is not a proper review. While I was listening to this audiobook, yes, there were a lot of things about Mr. Mathews' early life and career that I didn't know. His background was interesting. But mostly I couldn't get past a feeling that I didn't want to give this old, white man any more attention. There's something about him, and the generation and demographic he epitomizes that I'm just sick of listening to. His career went out with the ultimate whimper, and not a bang. I hear absolutely no reflection or awareness in these pages. I'm done with him. Next!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Richard Walden

    I liked Chris's "Hardball" show very much, although he didn't always let others finish their remarks. I knew nothing about his upbringing or his truly remarkable, risk-taking career, and truly admire how he presents his life in this century. He confesses that he was a bit too harsh on Bernie Sanders (just because Bernie said whatever he thought was true, perhaps? Just like Chris?). In this memoir, he lets a few of Trump's Republican predecessors off the hook, although he correctly castigates Dub I liked Chris's "Hardball" show very much, although he didn't always let others finish their remarks. I knew nothing about his upbringing or his truly remarkable, risk-taking career, and truly admire how he presents his life in this century. He confesses that he was a bit too harsh on Bernie Sanders (just because Bernie said whatever he thought was true, perhaps? Just like Chris?). In this memoir, he lets a few of Trump's Republican predecessors off the hook, although he correctly castigates Dubya and the NeoCon warmongers.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Hasan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book was Chris Matthews' professional autobiography. It is narrated by the author, which really packs a punch in the audiobook format. The first two-thirds of the book is interesting with anecdotes and stories about his time in Africa, working for Congress, working in the Carter White House and then being a top side for House Speaker Tip O'Neill. The last third of the book, mostly during Matthews' time on television, is largely boring and abbreviated. This book was Chris Matthews' professional autobiography. It is narrated by the author, which really packs a punch in the audiobook format. The first two-thirds of the book is interesting with anecdotes and stories about his time in Africa, working for Congress, working in the Carter White House and then being a top side for House Speaker Tip O'Neill. The last third of the book, mostly during Matthews' time on television, is largely boring and abbreviated.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Evels

    A fascinating political life Chris Matthews, always asking the right questions of our elected officials, takes us on a journey of his experience with politics. Beginning with his stint in the Peace Corps, to his job as Capitol police, to speechwriter, newspaper columnist, and tv personality, he has searched for the truth. I enjoyed his honest perspectives of our history and our politicians.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Raafter

    hadn't heard of Chris Matthews prior to listening to this. At least from his perspective he seems a rational somewhat balanced person. From what I gather (haven't watched him on TV) he is one of those fast talkers who talks over people, but when he writes his book he sounds like he does see both sides.... hadn't heard of Chris Matthews prior to listening to this. At least from his perspective he seems a rational somewhat balanced person. From what I gather (haven't watched him on TV) he is one of those fast talkers who talks over people, but when he writes his book he sounds like he does see both sides....

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tc

    I challenge myself to read books by writers that I feel will have opposite opinions from me. I rarely watch TV news shows where the host ask questions nightly. I had no idea how intelligent and well prepared Chris Matthews was to hold his position. His background was perfect. I appreciate his journey and his opinions. This was well worth listening to as he narrated the book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Claudia A

    This was so cool! What was so.neat was I lived these same moments in history.I know exactly where I was when JFK was killed and how the country mourned and so many other things. Chris Matthews reminded me of where and what I was doing and made all of it fresh. It is a fun read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Meta

    I thought it was well written. I enjoyed reading about he got started on his career and the climb up. I have never watched any of his "Hardball" TV commentaries, but after reading his book I wish I had now. I thought it was well written. I enjoyed reading about he got started on his career and the climb up. I have never watched any of his "Hardball" TV commentaries, but after reading his book I wish I had now.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Fine book by one of the most respected commentators of our time, in my opinion. Like Tim Russett, he never backed down and was never afraid to ask the tough questions...and demand an answer!! This also goes into his personal like and what made him the professional was was and is.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Michael Asen

    Nothing new but a quick fun read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    John Bohnert

    I've been interested in politics since my freshman year in college. So, I enjoyed reading this book very much. I've been interested in politics since my freshman year in college. So, I enjoyed reading this book very much.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    Very good read. I miss "Hardball" on MSNBC. Chris got a raw deal. Very good read. I miss "Hardball" on MSNBC. Chris got a raw deal.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Abbie

    3.5 stars. This was good and interesting.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Susan Kosel

    You can hear the author’s voice.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mari

    Outstanding piece of writing. What a life this man has had. A great read if you’re a political “junkie.” I highly recommend.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Esteban

    I’m a fan but have been curious about his life and this gave me his story. The most enjoyable part for me was his service in the peace corps in Africa and his run for Congress.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alias Reader

    audio book read by author

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sherman

    Another great book by Chris Matthews and I have read them all but this one was the best. Hope he keeps up the excellent writing and telling it like it is.

  29. 4 out of 5

    MorganJac

    Interesting view of the political culture.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Leanne

    A truly living history of an incredible life to report on our monumental moments and that history repeats itself.

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