Book review: “Love & War”

Associated PressApril 12, 2014 

  • Nonfiction

    Love & War

    Mary Matalin and James Carville

    Blue Rider Press, 352 pages

“Love & War” is the unlikely love story of one of America’s best-known power couples and how their marriage has survived despite their sharply different political views.

The subtitle, “Twenty years, three presidents, two daughters and one Louisiana home,” offers a hint of the pressures and rewards faced by Mary Matalin and James Carville. .

They were married in New Orleans in 1993, but lived much of the year in the fiercely partisan atmosphere of Washington, D.C. Matalin advised President George H.W. Bush, Carville helped Democrat Bill Clinton oust Bush in 1992, and Matalin returned to White House duty after the 2000 election, as a top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Events like the 2000 election recount and the Iraq War created tensions in their marriage, but their determination to preserve it, willingness to avoid debating politics and mutual dedication to raising two daughters helped sustain them.

After almost two decades of living at the eye of the political hurricane, the couple was ready by late 2006 to move to New Orleans.

Carville writes: “I never was going to be that guy in his seventies, living out his last days in some apartment building on Connecticut Ave. I was coming home.”

Carville said he wasn’t mad at anybody when he left, “I was just losing interest in the conversation.” He shifted in recent years to advising political campaigns overseas.

Matalin recalled how she was in the Washington area buying school supplies with her daughter when a woman in line said: “You were such a bitch on ‘Meet the Press’ yesterday.” She came home and said to Carville: “I don’t think I can raise my kids here.”

The book is told in alternating passages by Matalin and Carville, a technique that’s like an extended conversation in their living room.

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