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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Political strategists Carville and Begala, the team behind the highly efficacious War Room that helped Bill Clinton win his first presidential bid, have distilled their campaign experiences and observations into this collection of 12 essential principles that will help you best your competition in almost any endeavor. The authors introduce their work with a surprisingly modest claim -- "This book won't change your life." They are right, of course: In the grand scheme of thing, instructions on how to beat the other guy aren't exactly what we think of as inspirational, life-altering literature. But, if you really want advice on winning (and many of us do at some point), this book, with its savvy techniques and battle-tested tactics, is a great place to start. Written with more than a touch of Carville's alternately self-depreciating and self-promoting rhetoric, this is a book that manages to be simultaneously funny, cutthroat, highly practical, and very honest about the ways in which success is usually achieved.
If you'd like an example, consider the second principle that Carville and Begala advance in the book -- the importance of what less-direct business books often call building a relationship with your boss. "Ass-kissing," our authors note, "is both an art and a science. No one gets to the top without leaning how to deal with people you can't stand. And usually the best way to deal with them is to pretend you can stand them. With all due respect, we think our background in politics has given us a Ph.D. in ass-kissing." Although this probably isn't the kind of advice taught in business school, it does have a from-the-trenches ring of truth that a lot of corporate survivors will probably appreciate. Lest you think that the authors only extol the virtues of sucking up, their next chapter, "Kick Ass," discusses the importance of aggression, counterpunches, and negative attacks. In fact, both the kissing and the kicking emerge in the book as "tactical weapons," nothing more or less than strategic choices made along the road to victory. While some readers may have difficulty with this openly Machiavellian approach, Carville and Begala do have a lesson to impart, as their own political successes certainly attest to. (Sunil Sharma)