A strangely compelling dueling memoir by the improbably matched political couple.
Chicago-native Republican strategist Matalin (Letters to My Daughters, 2004) and New Orleans–born Bill Clinton campaign manager Carville (co-author: It’s the Middle Class, Stupid!, 2012) alternate relentless takes on the events of the last 20 years—both public news stories, such as the 2000 presidential election recount that deeply shook their marriage, and private milestones like moving with their two then-tween-age daughters to New Orleans from Washington, D.C., in 2008. Matalin garners the lion’s share of space, as she discourses on events and personalities in more leisurely, mannered detail, especially the two years she worked as assistant to Vice President Dick Cheney (dispensing the standard talking points for the media meant, “it was up to you to make processed canned food taste garden fresh”). In his pithy style, Carville gets in some good digs of his own. For example, he recounts his simmering resentment at his wife for taking that same VP job in the first place, suppressing an uncivil urge to wish her “good luck on cutting taxes for rich people on her way out the door.” Both are funny in their fashions and respectful of and loving toward the other—rather incredibly, considering their vast ideological divides. In one illuminating tale, Carville tells of the post-9/11 Christmas holiday the family had to spend near the Cheneys in Wyoming, which he made the best of despite the fact that “we were surrounded by Republicans.” In spite of Matalin’s gushing praise of “Poppy” Bush, Lee Atwater, Rush Limbaugh and others, and despite Carville’s merciless jabs at their “boneheaded positions,” the couple’s revelatory account of Carville’s late-life diagnosis of ADHD and their work to rebuild their hometown prove miraculously touching.
A solid memoir of political lives from both sides of the spectrum.