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Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 18, 2017
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“[A] compelling new book... It’s the story of a wildly dysfunctional and ‘spirit-crushing’ campaign that embraced a flawed strategy (based on flawed data) that failed, repeatedly, to correct course... The blow-by-blow details in Shattered are nothing less than devastating... In fact, the portrait of the Clinton campaign that emerges from these pages is that of a Titanic-like disaster: an epic fail made up of a series of perverse and often avoidable missteps by an out-of-touch candidate and her strife-ridden staff.”
—New York Times
“How did she lose? Providing that answer is the mission accepted by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes in Shattered… They saw and heard far more than most of us, exploring deep inside ‘Clintonworld’ in search of the real story. And in these pages, they share enough of what they witnessed to enable us to reach our own conclusions… Allen and Parnes offer a first bridge beyond the journalism of the campaign year to the scholarship of the historians and other scholars who will process all this material for generations to come.”
“Told largely through background interviews with campaign staff and a tangle [of] Clinton insiders, the book is a comprehensive chronicle of how her quest for the White House lurched and sputtered toward ignominious defeat… [Shattered is] richly reported.”
"What Allen and Parnes captured in Shattered was a far more revealing portrait of the Democratic Party intelligentsia than, say, the WikiLeaks dumps. And while the book is profoundly unflattering to Hillary Clinton, the problem it describes really has nothing to do with Secretary Clinton. The real protagonist of this book is a Washington political establishment that has lost the ability to explain itself or its motives to people outside the Beltway... If the ending to this story were anything other than Donald Trump being elected president, Shattered would be an awesome comedy, like a Kafka novel—a lunatic bureaucracy devouring itself. But since the ending is the opposite of funny, it will likely be consumed as a cautionary tale."
—Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
“Just like Game Change and Double Down, Shattered comes filled with plenty of juicy behind-the-scenes stories about the 2016 election… Compiled from anonymous interviews with more than 100 sources 'up and down the ranks of the campaign,' Shattered provides a detailed timeline of how a 'winnable race' was lost.”
“For those who like political autopsies, I recommend the new book by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, Shattered.”
—Niall Ferguson, The Boston Globe
“This highly entertaining and fast-moving book provides an extensive analysis of what caused the failure of Hillary Clinton’s unwieldy and hugely expensive campaign to carry its highly favored candidate across the finish line.”
—The Washington Times
"This withering account of Hillary Clinton's Presidential campaign... yields a great deal of backroom color... the Clinton campaign never had a clear picture of its own candidate or of what was coming."
—The New Yorker
“Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes' exegesis of how Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 US Presidential Election to—do I even have to say his name?—is a thorough and, at points, dishy behind-the-scenes look at what went so horribly wrong in a campaign that clearly thought they had it right.”
“A riveting account of the final, dreadful hours of Clinton’s long pursuit of the presidency… Thanks to Allen and Parnes, we now know how Clinton reacted, at the moment she was supposed to become the first female president.”
“[Shattered] sheds particular light on the painful turn of events on election night, as Clinton watched the returns deviate dramatically from the path her campaign had so confidently predicted… As the first take on Clinton’s doomed campaign, [Allen and Parnes] offer a behind-the-scenes view of the obstacles in her way—some familiar and others a consequence of the shifting American electorate.”
“Hillary Clinton’s loss at the hands of Donald Trump last November is the single biggest upset in modern presidential politics. I’ve spent the intervening months trying to understand what Clinton’s defeat said about the electorate, about Clinton and about the campaign she ran. Now, there’s a book that does all of that for me!”
“In the last weeks before the election, the Hillary Clinton campaign did no polling… This is one of the thousand revelations in Shattered, the new book by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes that, for political junkies, redefines the word ‘juicy’ for our time… Allen and Parnes pile up headshaking detail after headshaking detail from the very beginning of her campaign to its end.”
—New York Post
“We’ve waited five months but we finally have the first thorough dissection of the mangled road kill that is the Hillary for president campaign. It’s called Shattered… It’s full of revelations about Clinton’s failed campaign.”
—Tucker Carlson, host of Fox’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight”
—ABC’s “Good Morning America”
“Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign, the new book by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, is absolutely gripping reading, chock full of juicy reporting about the Democratic nominee’s campaign that you really wish you had read during the actual campaign.”
—The National Review
“Writing in a lively and fast-paced narrative, Allen and Parnes use their unparalleled access… to richly document what it felt like to be aboard the Clinton Hindenburg…”
“Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign should be required reading for anyone planning to run a political campaign.”
“An in-depth dissection of Hillary Clinton's second campaign for the presidency, a failure on many counts… this readable, endlessly fascinating autopsy by Roll Call columnist Allen and The Hill White House correspondent Parnes, who co-authored HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton (2014)… A top-notch campaign examination. If, like so many others, you wonder what on earth happened in November 2016, this is all the explanation you need.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“Shattered provides a sharp behind-the-news and behind-the-scenes palatte of details for a campaign that, in retrospect, seemed preordained to fail, and fail miserably.”
—The Globe and Mail
About the Author
JONATHAN ALLEN is a national political reporter with NBC News. A winner of the Dirksen and Hume awards for his reporting on Congress, he was previously the Washington bureau chief for Bloomberg and the White House bureau chief for Politico.
AMIE PARNES is the senior political correspondent for The Hill newspaper in Washington. She covered Hillary Clinton during the campaign and will cover the Trump administration.
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To be fair to the authors, they lay the blame for her loss squarely on her. They sort of feel bad about it but their close access makes it obvious to them and they are objective enough to report it. The other main person held responsible is campaign manager Robby Mooks, who is so enamored with 'analytics' that he can't see the forest for the trees. The canary in the coal mine is Bill Clinton, who senses that his wife and her campaign are not connecting with the white working class, but is ignored by the team who consider him washed-up and out of date.
It would have been nice to have a book that also gave the story from the Trump side, but as these reporters didn't have that sort of access there, I am glad that they didn't try to shoehorn it in. That would have to be the subject of a different book.
I do notice a number of one star reviewers who seem to be Trump supporters. I really don't understand why as this book does not present a flattering view of Hillary Clinton at all and Trump himself is only seen through the eyes of the Clinton campaign and of course they don't think highly of him.
Overall, it's a book about entitlement, hubris and ambition for the sake of ambition. I very much enjoyed it.
Book detail about the inner workings of the campaign are interesting, but I find what the book omits equally intriguing. There are no references to any of the dirty tricks the Clinton campaign and its supporters employed in winning the primary. There's no mention of inappropriate Clinton campaigning (or at least voter-influencing) at polling places in Massachusetts. There's no mention of the media shut-out of Sanders during the primary, no acknowledgement that the large crowds he drew were anything more than a cheap trick.
While the book definitely presents information from the Clinton perspective, there is enough information to allow discerning readers to reach their own conclusions--the repeating issues of emails are dealt with extensively, and while the prevailing tone is that they were simply a tool for destroying the Clinton candidacy, the authors do note that to a degree they were a tool that Clinton herself handed her opponents.
The Wikileaks releases are interpreted as Russian interference in an American election. I would tend to agree--but again, those emails were a self-inflicted wound; had the DNC and the emails on the Podesta account not revealed what there's some justification to call corruption and inappropriate party bias, they would have been ineffective. The authors remind us that the Clinton campaign and the DNC was the victim of a cyber attack, and that's very true, and it needs to be addressed. However, the effectiveness of that attack was directly related to the corruption and mean-spiritedness of the correspondents--those emails paint a very different picture of who was "victimized" in the campaign.
Perhaps the biggest question I'm left with after reading this is one that the campaign repeatedly asks itself, and never really manages to answer--perhaps because the principal characters in this book seem to lack any ability to see themselves from any perspective but their own--is the central question that lies of the heart of any discussion of the Clinton political machine, and the Clintons themselves: Why is it that so many people see HRC as corrupt, dishonest, and untrustworthy? I've omitted some of the other accusations that seem more rooted in misogyny than in behavior, but perhaps this book casts some light on those three, at least.
The authors note that HRC's speeches to Wall Street for large sums of money, given at a time when a presidential run and the issue of purchased influence were both strong possibilities, led many to see her as corrupt. While she responded angrily to the question, angry responses are not proof--and it's very possible to find enough political stances she's taken to offer substance to the question. While Politifact ranks her as one of the more honest politicians, it was hard to watch her sometimes-flippant, evolving, and contradictory versions surrounding her email server without seeing her as duplicitous. The book notes this--and goes on to point out that the results of the initial investigation revealed a number of her statements to be falsehoods. The above-cited example from the Michigan debate, where she falsely characterized a Sanders position in a way calculated to destroy his credibility provides another example. The Clintons may not be more dishonest than other politicians, but that's not to say that the perception of dishonesty is unearned. Again, the authors note this, but then shy away from the implications of it.
At the end, the authors speculate that perhaps a quarter of a century in public life had so firmly set the Clintons' images in the electorate's minds that no amount of "reintroducing" and "rebranding" was going to change the way people saw them. While we may not know HRC the person--and to a great degree this book doesn't really change that--we have good reason to know HRC as a public figure. Her public life is real and discoverable, for good or ill. This book adds a great deal of context to that public figure. In the context of the book, HRC's back story is quite possibly the elephant in the room, and the reason the authors describe her campaign as "doomed." I find that a mischaracterization. "Doom" implies that some overwhelming external force acted against her to deprive her of the presidency. If the authors are correct, and her campaign failed not because the candidate couldn't find an effective "brand" but because of actions that grew out of who she was as a person, perhaps the election result was not a failure of the system, but the system working. (I really hate to write that, because I'm finding TrumpWorld to be a confusing and sometimes frightening place.)
In short--while there's definitely bias both in what information is included and how it's interpreted, the book nevertheless offers a fascinating glimpse into an organization that wanted to be secretive, but couldn't quite pull it off. It's a reminder that public lives are led in the public eye, and that a huge part of the Sanders appeal was his lifelong commitment to the same principles on which he campaigned, and that our deepest wounds are those for which we have ourselves provided the weapons. I'd recommend this book be read with an open, analytical mind, as a part of a broader reading program that offers other perspectives.
Here's a sample of the kind of insight you'll find in the book:
"By ceding the reformer mantle to Sanders -- and to Trump -- Hillary was dismissing a whole world's worth of evidence that she was running into the headwinds of history.... Instead of shifting, she was locking in a general-election strategy based on the assumption that the 2016 electorate would look a lot like those of the previous two elections. Having defeated Bernie's surge, Hillary was reassured that the national political firmament would hold.
--Interestingly, both Bill and Hillary were paying attention to British politics. In 2015, when conservatives thrashed the liberal Labour Party, Hillary confided in aides that former prime minister Tony Blair had predicted to her that the left would lose if it ran a 'base' election. She appeared to worry about being drawn too far to the left, rather than seeing the conservative takeover as an affirmation of nationalistic populism. Bill believed the push for Brexit - and its eventual approval by voters -- showed a strong contempt for existing power structures that reflected the mood of the American electorate. You guys are underestimating the significance of Brexit, he told Brooklyn and his own advisers over and over. He'd come to power by tapping into similar frustrations in 1992, convincing voters that a reasonably good economy was swirling down the drain - and that he was the only guy who could fish it out and revive it. Bill had a better feel for the working stiff, whether American or British, than anyone else in Hilary's orbit. He knew that, and he felt like he was being heard. But he couldn't figure out why Hillary and her team weren't executing.
--...Throughout the primary, he'd report back from the field on what he was hearing at campaign events and from friends across the country. Mook's response was always a variation on the same analysis: the data run counter to your anecdotes. Bill liked data, but he believed it was insufficient To him, politics wasn't just about finding people who agreed with you and getting them to the polls. He felt that it was important to talk to voters individually and get a real sense for what they were feeling. He also believed that a candidate could persuade voters with the right argument. And in pursuit of that, the on-the-ground feel for how hopes and fears were motivating voters was invaluable.
--For Mook and the Brooklyn number crunchers, it held little value. Hillary, the policy wonk, leaned heavily toward hard evidence too. And, because she didn't want to expose herself to unscripted interactions with voters, she wasn't getting much retail political information. From the very beginning of the campaign, Hillary had met with preselected groups but tried to avoid chance encounters with voters who might heckle her. She took the same approach to members of the media, who sometimes relayed the concerns of voters to candidates. She was running a variation on a 'Rose Garden' strategy -- the term for an incumbent president who stays at home and uses the trappings of the office to campaign rather than getting out on the hustings. For years, she'd been in the bubble of elite circles in Washington, New York, and foreign capitals. Whether or not she understood their concerns, she was literally out of touch with voters.... they weren't talking to and hearing from actual people at events."
Highly, highly recommended.
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