Are all campaign books awful? Clinton's certainly doesn't buck the trend
'Stronger Together,' like most campaign books, is so poorly produced, it serves no one – reader, publisher, political party, nor candidate.
Campaign books are typically dreadful. The Washington Post has called them "autohagiography," The Wall Street Journal has called them "dull" and "embarrassingly self-serving," and The Christian Science Monitor has labeled them "god-awful, ghostwritten, self-aggrandizing publicity contraptions masquerading as books."
By most accounts, it seems Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine's campaign book is no exception.
"Stronger Together," is a 256-page campaign book that details the Democratic Party candidates' policy proposals for almost everything under the sun, from fighting the Islamic State, the Zika virus, and campus sexual assault, to creating better internships and suicide prevention programs.
The book, not surprisingly, sold just 2,912 copies in its first week on sale, according to Nielsen BookScan. By contrast, Mrs. Clinton’s 2014 memoir, “Hard Choices,” sold more than 85,000 copies in its first week, and her 2003 memoir, “Living History,” about her years in the White House, sold about six times as many copies in its first week as “Hard Choices.”
Which is why many news outlets have already branded "Stronger Together" "a flop."
The book has an average rating of just 1.5 stars on Amazon.
It "is an embarrassment, sloppy, repetitive, dutiful and boring," concludes The Washington Post, which calls it "a cut-and-paste job of campaign fact sheets, speeches and op-eds."
"You don’t need to wade through this book. No one does. No one should. The only people I imagine reading it are future fact-checkers, masochistic book critics and the most strung out of political junkies."
That's because "Stronger Together" appears to be a quickly-compiled policy book rushed to the market just before the final rundown to the election. And apart from a brief first-person introduction and conclusion written by the candidates about specific experiences in their lives, it's a wonky, bullet-point-filled tome better suited for a policy nerd than a general audience.
Just reading about its structure is tiring. The book is divided into three sections, “Growing Together,” on the economy; “Safer Together,” on national security; and “Standing Together,” on domestic policy. "Each section is divided into six bullet points outlining policy goals; each bullet point into three to six sub-points, and each of those sub-points in turn is divided into further bullet points," explains the Post. "It’s a PowerPoint approach that makes for absolutely brutal reading."
The fact that entire sentences appear to be repeated, verbatim, multiple points throughout the book, makes for uninspired reading and suggests rushed writing and sloppy editing.
And the book leaves no stone unturned, addressing every perceivable voting bloc and every issue, however small, with policy proposals.
It's tiresome, but there may be a point to Clinton and Kaine's exhaustiveness.
"[T]he minutiae is the point," the LA Times writes. "The political aim of the book is less to be a gripping page turner than to make the case that Donald Trump doesn't even have the material to publish such a book if he were so inclined. Policy is not his campaign's strong point. It offers a comparatively thin agenda."
"We have an old-fashioned idea about politics: People who are running to lead the United States of America should tell you what they’re going to do, why they’re going to do it, and how they’re going to get it done," Clinton and Kaine wrote in the preface.
Indeed, the policy page on Trump's website has just 9,000 words. The Clinton policy page is 112,735 words, the Associated Press once pointed out.
Nonetheless, there is perhaps a louder message here. "Stronger Together," like most campaign books, is so poorly produced, it serves no one – reader, publisher, political party, nor candidate.
Which is why, The Washington Post concludes, "It provides damning evidence that presidential candidates’ campaign books are almost always unnecessary, uninteresting and unenlightening. This is a genre that has reached its term limit."