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Article Article June 16th, 2017

Reading corner: Shattered

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Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign

By Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes

Crown Publishing

“I don't understand what's happening with the country. I can't get my arms around it.”

Of the many juicy lines and nuggets in this chronicle and autopsy of Hillary Clinton's losing presidential run, it is perhaps this one - from Clinton herself  - which enjoys the most pertinence. It sums up why hers was a campaign destined to founder.

Make no mistake, this is no easy read for anyone who supported her effort to become the first female US President. It spares no detail, no error, no opportunity to rake over what went wrong.  And boy, did things go wrong.

Let's start with the candidate. There are abundant reasons to admire Hillary Clinton. Her intellect, her stamina, her lifelong commitment to public service, to name but three. But as someone able to concisely distil exactly why she wanted to be president in a way that would appeal to a broad range of voters? That's where headwinds abounded. But maybe this is actually a strong point. Her passion is policy - a Public Impact Fundamental, don't forget - but unfortunately, this was not easily conveyed on the trail.

And then there's her campaign, involving what seemed to be a cast of thousands, a billion dollar budget (yes, really) and the deployment of supposedly state of the art data analytics which proved badly off track. Behind the scenes of the campaign - at both the Brooklyn headquarters and on the road with the candidate - the authors paint a picture of woe and confusion, where "a bonfire of the vanities raged" and effective order and messaging came there none.

Ever since Theodore White's seminal The Making of the President 1960 there has been a huge appetite for this type of behind the scenes campaign account. More recent first class efforts include David Axelrod's Believer (which covered his career in journalism and politics) and Race of a Lifetime, by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin.

This is not quite in their league. By focusing purely on Team Hillary, the reader is left wondering what was happening in Trump Tower, which surely had more than its share of behind the scenes travails. And let's not forget that despite everything, Hillary did win more than 3 million votes than her opponent, more than any presidential candidate in history, apart from Obama.

Nonetheless, Shattered - which is the first of many 2016 campaign chronicles poised to hit the bookstores - is surely destined for many a bookshelf. And deservedly so.

Written by:

Matthew Mercer Senior Editor
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