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Book review: "Love & War"

By: Will Lester The Associated Press
April 6, 2014
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photo - This book cover image released by Blue Rider Press shows "Love & War: Twenty Years, Three Presidents, Two Daughters and One Louisiana Home," by James Carville and Mary Matalin. (AP Photo/Blue Rider Press)
This book cover image released by Blue Rider Press shows "Love & War: Twenty Years, Three Presidents, Two Daughters and One Louisiana Home," by James Carville and Mary Matalin. (AP Photo/Blue Rider Press) 

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

The subtitle of the book by Mary Matalin and James Carville is "Twenty Years, Three Presidents, Two Daughters and One Louisiana Home." That offers a hint of the pressures and rewards faced by the couple with a quirky charisma and two of the nation's better political minds.

They were married in New Orleans in 1993, but they were living much of the year in the fiercely partisan atmosphere of Washington, D.C. They served presidents on both sides of the political divide. 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 difficult and incredibly close election and recount of 2000, working as a top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney for a couple of years.

Events such as the election recount and the Iraq War created tensions in their marriage, but their determination to preserve the union, willingness to avoid debating politics and mutual dedication to raising daughters Matty and Emerson helped sustain them.

After almost two decades of living at the eye of the political hurricane, Matalin and Carville were ready by late 2006 to consider other options. They decided to move their family to New Orleans, which had a rich mix of offbeat culture, delicious food and fascinating history. It was in Carville's native Louisiana and far from the increasingly partisan political atmosphere of Washington.

The book is told in alternating passages by Matalin and Carville. The alternating technique works well, feeling like an extended conversation in their living room.

Much of the book is a charming love letter from both about their adopted hometown of New Orleans, its recovery from Hurricane Katrina, its unique character, rediscovery of extended family and the joy of raising two daughters there.

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