Review: Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

9780857526137Curtis Sittenfeld’s new novel is more than a dazzling and seductive alternate history about a world in which Hillary Rodham decided not to marry Bill Clinton to maintain her independence. It’s a searing commentary on the unjust compromises and aspersions faced by female politicians compared to their male counterparts, and how much harder it is for women to make their way in politics, or any facet of public life; any walk of life, in fact.

Hillary is merely the vehicle Sittenfeld uses to showcase this inequality; but saturating her fiction in the texture of Hillary’s reality, with one major twist, adds a brilliant vitality to the work, and a layer of verisimilitude that using a totally fabricated character would not have allowed. This narrative decision is utterly seductive, and Sittenfeld clearly had great fun contemplating the seismic ramifications that one different decision might’ve produced. Where is Donald Trump in this new world? Barrack Obama? Indeed, what actually happened to Bill Clinton; did he achieve his political ambitions without Hillary as his first lady? Sittenfeld answers all of these questions, and more. I was addicted to learning more, and incredibly impressed by her ability to humanise Hillary, and turn her into a sympathetic character rather than a caricature. I’ve no doubt it’ll be one of my favourite books of the year.

ISBN: 9780857526137
Format: Paperback
Number Of Pages: 400
Available: 19th May 2020
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd

Review: Shattered – Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign by Jonathan Allen & Amie Parnes

9780553447088Why did Hillary Clinton — arguably one of the most capable presidential candidates in history — not take the White House in 2016? Were the lessons of her failed Democratic nomination for the 2008 presidency disregarded? Was her campaign derailed by Russian meddling? Did she underestimate Bernie Sanders’s attempted political revolution? The screw-it populism of Donald Trump? Jonathan Allen & Amie Parnes enthralling autopsy of Clinton’s campaign, Shattered, suggests these reasons, and more — uh, remember that whole email debacle? —  combined in a perfect  storm to deny the former First Lady and Secretary of State.

Shattered is a superbly comprehensible and truly page-turning examination of Clinton’s campaign. There’s no sugarcoating the fact that her campaign wasn’t adequate, no where near up to the task of securing her place in the White House. Parnes and Allen spend a lot of time on the campaign’s inability to articulate Hillary’s message: Why was she running? What did she stand for? While Sanders and Donald Trump dished out soundbites, resonant and memorable to the ears of voters, Clinton struggled for traction. Which made the bullishness of her campaign staff even more perplexing, particularly when you consider their obsession with analytics over polling, the models of which were erroneous. Clinton’s campaign was cancerous, corrupted within, which only exacerbated the influence of the exterior hammer-blows that included her email scandal, coincidentally flagged again by the director of the FBI mere days before the election, and many more.

With only a baseline understanding of US politics, Shattered provided precisely the kind of campaign analysis I was after. Both insightful and captivating, and as these books go, fairly balanced in its presentation of all candidates. Great reading for the armchair politico.

ISBN: 9780553447088
ISBN-10: 0553447084
Format: Hardback (234mm x 157mm x 41mm)
Pages: 448
Imprint: Crown Publishing Group, Division of Random House Inc
Publisher: Random House USA Inc
Publish Date: 6-Apr-2017
Country of Publication: United States