...the blow-by-blow details in Shattered — and the observations made here by campaign and Democratic Party insiders — are nothing less than devastating, sure to dismay not just her supporters but also everyone who cares about the outcome and momentous consequences of the election. 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 that turned 'a winnable race' into 'another iceberg-seeking campaign ship' ... In chronicling these missteps, Shattered creates a picture of a shockingly inept campaign hobbled by hubris and unforced errors, and haunted by a sense of self-pity and doom, summed up in one Clinton aide’s mantra throughout the campaign: 'We’re not allowed to have nice things.'
...as revealing as those moments are, they inexplicably come in the book’s final pages and largely stand apart from the rest, which is mostly a dutiful recitation of every to and fro of the so-very-long, joyless, ugh-filled Clinton campaign. Who wants to relive the Democratic primary debates? Or read 20 pages each about the Iowa caucuses (she won, barely) and the New Hampshire primary (she lost, bigly)? ... Going first has its advantages — perhaps in sales and attention — but in this case the quick-fire version proves too limiting ... The world does not often clamor for a book about the losing presidential candidate, though Clinton may be the exception, given her celebrity and all the weighty questions for Democrats that still shroud her devastating loss. Those who have been fascinated with Hillary Clinton for the past quarter-century may want to add Shattered to their libraries. But those looking for some of those answers will want to look elsewhere.
It is by no means the last word on 2016, but Allen and Parnes must be regarded as early front-runners in the race to make sense of it all ... There is no Big Reveal, no shocking secret answer. Instead we get a slow-building case against the concept and execution of the Clinton campaign, with plenty of fault falling squarely on the candidate herself ... The tone of the Allen-Parnes narrative is unsparing but not unsympathetic, noting campaign flaws and missteps without rue or recrimination ... Ultimately, Allen and Parnes get inside the campaign but not inside the mind of Hillary Clinton. Much the same seems to have been true for most of her staff and, ultimately, the voters.
...a standard campaign machine story, in which the reason for the loss can always be divined from within the loser’s staff ... Allen and Parnes have nothing particular to say about the afflictions America that faced in 2016. They’re just here for the facts, ma’am, and if the facts happen to make for entertaining anecdotes, so be it ... The Trump campaign was shambolic, the chaos on full display. And with that in mind, one wonders how Allen and Parnes expected readers to take their loose argument, that the campaign was doomed from the start, at face value. Competence doesn’t seem to correlate with electoral victory.
The juicy quotes would mean more if they were on the record, but mostly it works: You can’t pinpoint the identity of any one 'top aide' or 'close Hillary ally,' but the authors’ language leads you to believe they include the most senior Clinton advisers—Mr. Podesta, longtime Clinton confidante Huma Abedin, campaign manager Robby Mook, speechwriter Dan Schwerin, policy adviser Jake Sullivan —and probably the candidate herself ... Such insights aside, Shattered is not a pleasure to read. The authors seem incapable of conveying a thought without the use of some tired metaphor or idiom, often two or three within the same sentence. Mrs. Clinton’s 'clear, dead aim was to box Biden out.' Bernie Sanders 'had flown in from off the political radar screen.' The book is also too long: 400 pages of Clintonian self-aggrandizement, campaign malpractice and passive-aggressive blame-shifting are more than any ordinary reader can bear.