Thoughts on Hacks

For thanksgiving, I found myself on a 6 or so hour bus ride. Over the course of that ride, I did something I didn’t quite expect to do. I finished an entire book, start to finish. And as the title of this post suggests, it was Hacks: The Inside Story of the Breaks-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House. From here, I’m just going to call it Hacks, for brevity’s sake. Now, I didn’t really approach this like I usually do. A little peek behind the curtain, I annotate the heck out of my books. Now, this was on my e-reader, and I can’t exactly go at that with a pencil. Also, I realized that this book doesn’t really have enough new information to warrant a chapter by chapter discussion. So, I think I’ll just talk about my thoughts on the book as a whole. I may do this in the future with shorter nonfiction titles, but it’s not set in stone yet.

Now, the book flows from chapter to chapter really well. Yes, each chapter is about a different event, but it’s very organic. Also, Donna Brazile’s writing style is phenomenal, to be frank. It’s blunt, it’s unfiltered, it’s honest. Brazile minces no words, and she provides a valuable insight into the circus that the DNC seemed to be at some points. It doesn’t feel like a report on the events. It feels like she’s in front of me telling me what happened. While there’s nothing wrong with someone working with a professional writer to help them get their message across, I find that the style is a little different. It’s a style that is appropriate for Brazile’s story. She’s not trying to tell a completely objective story, and she never claims to. She simply wanted to share her experience. And I don’t think that it could really be told any other way.

My main criticism of the book isn’t really on Brazile’s part. I don’t know whose decision it was to select the excerpt from the book that got published ahead of time. A lot of the hype around the book seemed to paint it as focusing much more heavily on Clinton’s actions. While I’m not discounting the gravity of some of Brazile’s claims, the campaign is far from the focus of the book. But for now, I’ll just summarize Brazile’s claims:

1: Barak Obama put the DNC in a difficult financial place, and they ended up about $2 million in debt.
2: Debbie Wasserman Shultz was not transparent and didn’t make the board aware of the financial trouble.
3: Hillary Clinton’s campaign bailed out the DNC and had a deal that essentially let her campaign control the DNC’s pursestrings.

So, does any of this put me on the “lock her up” side? No. Do I think it was right? No. And while the Clinton Campaign’s actions are certainly in the background of the book, they’re not the focus. As the title suggests, it’s the hackers.

Honestly, the book reads like a spy thriller. Brazile discusses a group of young software engineers that volunteered to help her fight off the Russian attack. She’s got a lot of humility. She had some slightly self depracating remarks when she was describing her reasoning for recruiting these engineers. She seemed to suggest that she was passing the torch to the next generation, and doing so with nothing but respect. It’s refreshing to see her look at the young 20-somethings that she worked with with admiration and respect that she grants to any other colleague. It’s something that I unfortunately don’t see as much as I should from people in her age group.

Overall, I would highly reccomend this book to anyone thinking about picking it up. It doesn’t just tell the reader what happened, it transports them to the very moment it happened. It’s real, it’s honest, and I couldn’t put it down for a moment.

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