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How the Hell Did This Happen?: The Election of 2016

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This election cycle was so absurd that celebrated political satirist, journalist, and die-hard Republican P. J. O’Rourke endorsed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. As P.J. put it, “America is experiencing the most severe outbreak of mass psychosis since the Salem witch trials of 1692. So why not put Hillary on the dunking stool?” In How the Hell Did This Happen?, P.J. b This election cycle was so absurd that celebrated political satirist, journalist, and die-hard Republican P. J. O’Rourke endorsed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. As P.J. put it, “America is experiencing the most severe outbreak of mass psychosis since the Salem witch trials of 1692. So why not put Hillary on the dunking stool?” In How the Hell Did This Happen?, P.J. brings his critical eye and inimitable voice to some seriously risky business. Starting in June 2015, he asks, “Who are these jacklegs, high-binders, wire-pullers, mountebanks, swellheads, buncombe spigots, four-flushers and animated spittoons offering themselves as worthy of America’s highest office?” and surveys the full cast of presidential candidates including everyone you’ve already forgotten and everyone you wish you could forget. P.J. offers a brief history of how our insane process for picking who will run for president evolved, from the very first nominating convention (thanks, Anti-Masonic Party) through the reforms of the Progressive era (because there’s nothing that can’t be worsened by reform) to the present. He takes us through the debates and key primaries and analyzes everything from the campaign platforms (or lack thereof) to presidential style (“Trump’s appearance—indeed, Trump’s existence—is a little guy’s idea of living large. A private plane! A swell joint in Florida! Gold-plated toilet handles!”). And he rises from the depths of despair to come up with a better way to choose a president. Following his come-to-Satan moment with Hillary and the Beginning of End Times in November, P.J. reckons with a new age: “America is experiencing a change in the nature of leadership. We’re getting rid of our leaders. And we’re starting at the top.”


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This election cycle was so absurd that celebrated political satirist, journalist, and die-hard Republican P. J. O’Rourke endorsed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. As P.J. put it, “America is experiencing the most severe outbreak of mass psychosis since the Salem witch trials of 1692. So why not put Hillary on the dunking stool?” In How the Hell Did This Happen?, P.J. b This election cycle was so absurd that celebrated political satirist, journalist, and die-hard Republican P. J. O’Rourke endorsed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. As P.J. put it, “America is experiencing the most severe outbreak of mass psychosis since the Salem witch trials of 1692. So why not put Hillary on the dunking stool?” In How the Hell Did This Happen?, P.J. brings his critical eye and inimitable voice to some seriously risky business. Starting in June 2015, he asks, “Who are these jacklegs, high-binders, wire-pullers, mountebanks, swellheads, buncombe spigots, four-flushers and animated spittoons offering themselves as worthy of America’s highest office?” and surveys the full cast of presidential candidates including everyone you’ve already forgotten and everyone you wish you could forget. P.J. offers a brief history of how our insane process for picking who will run for president evolved, from the very first nominating convention (thanks, Anti-Masonic Party) through the reforms of the Progressive era (because there’s nothing that can’t be worsened by reform) to the present. He takes us through the debates and key primaries and analyzes everything from the campaign platforms (or lack thereof) to presidential style (“Trump’s appearance—indeed, Trump’s existence—is a little guy’s idea of living large. A private plane! A swell joint in Florida! Gold-plated toilet handles!”). And he rises from the depths of despair to come up with a better way to choose a president. Following his come-to-Satan moment with Hillary and the Beginning of End Times in November, P.J. reckons with a new age: “America is experiencing a change in the nature of leadership. We’re getting rid of our leaders. And we’re starting at the top.”

30 review for How the Hell Did This Happen?: The Election of 2016

  1. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    3.5 P. J. O'Rourke is a political satirist and journalist, so I knew this would ne somewhat amusing and well, the title is definitely a draw. Although there wasn't too much in this that I didn't know, I did enjoy reading his take on the presidential hopefuls, their platforms, even their clothing. It seems he only has respect for three, and one wasn't running. Have to agree with him there. He has a keen mind, a wonderful and amusing turn of phrase. Yet, as amusing as this was, there was an alarm, 3.5 P. J. O'Rourke is a political satirist and journalist, so I knew this would ne somewhat amusing and well, the title is definitely a draw. Although there wasn't too much in this that I didn't know, I did enjoy reading his take on the presidential hopefuls, their platforms, even their clothing. It seems he only has respect for three, and one wasn't running. Have to agree with him there. He has a keen mind, a wonderful and amusing turn of phrase. Yet, as amusing as this was, there was an alarm, a seriousness behind the comments. So while I am glad I read this, I also, wish my country would not have come to this. His views on why Trump was elected are I believe spot on, but not much consolation. Still feel, as if I am, stuck in a nightmare, one that will last form the next four years. I just hope I, we can survive for that length of time. ARC from publisher. Publishes March 7th.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Smith

    I wasn’t familiar with P.J. O’Rourke, but his Wiki page painted an interesting picture of this political satirist and journalist and the book’s blurb teased that within its covers the author eviscerates every presidential candidate. Well that sounds like fun! I’d been a long distance observer of the election and, like a number of people in post-Brexit vote UK, I was wondering throughout how America had managed to come up with two candidates who most people seemed to intensely dislike. Could this I wasn’t familiar with P.J. O’Rourke, but his Wiki page painted an interesting picture of this political satirist and journalist and the book’s blurb teased that within its covers the author eviscerates every presidential candidate. Well that sounds like fun! I’d been a long distance observer of the election and, like a number of people in post-Brexit vote UK, I was wondering throughout how America had managed to come up with two candidates who most people seemed to intensely dislike. Could this election be as divisive and possibly as destructive as the UK vote? The author, it turns out, is a ranting mouthpiece who hardly has a good word to say about anybody or anything. He’s a political shock jock who throws gratuitous insults around amidst a bunch of facts and figures that may or may not be in any way meaningful. He’s overly opinionated and rude, but he did manage to throw up some genuine light bulb moments for me. He also made some really interesting and insightful observations that I found to be truly thought provoking. And best of all, there are moments of true hilarity. I really haven’t laughed so much whilst reading a book in years! I don’t think this is a book that could or should be read in a single sitting – that would be way too much rich food on the plate. But picked at over a few days it does offer a diet of tasty morsels, even if some of it is a little heavy for my personal taste. My thanks to Grove Atlantic and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Esil

    3.5 stars. "If my book lacks a coherent narrative it's because I couldn't find one.", so says P.J. O'Rourke at the beginning of How the Hell Did This Happen?: the Election of 2016. I dipped my toe into How the Hell Did This Happen?, thinking I would read a few pages, and I couldn't stop reading. Much like I can't seem to stop reading and watching the media to see what's going on in US politics every day. I consume it in the form of tv sound bites from CNN and MSNBC, a wide variety of newspapers, a 3.5 stars. "If my book lacks a coherent narrative it's because I couldn't find one.", so says P.J. O'Rourke at the beginning of How the Hell Did This Happen?: the Election of 2016. I dipped my toe into How the Hell Did This Happen?, thinking I would read a few pages, and I couldn't stop reading. Much like I can't seem to stop reading and watching the media to see what's going on in US politics every day. I consume it in the form of tv sound bites from CNN and MSNBC, a wide variety of newspapers, and some comic relief from Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, SNL and Seth Meyer. I'm convinced it's not healthy, but I don't seem to be able to stop. And I know I'm not alone, even amongst my fellow Canadians. And I've surprised myself agreeing with people at very different ends of the political spectrum. And that brings me back to O'Rourke's book. I'm not familiar with his writings, but it's crystal clear that he and I wouldn't agree about much when it comes to politics. Self described as a libertarian, he has nothing generous to say about the types of economic and social policies I tend to subscribe to. But it turns out that I don't have to agree with his politics to find his collection of essays about the 2016 US election interesting. People can have pretty dramatic disagreements about politics generally these days and still have similar horrified reactions to the outcome of the 2016 US election and it's fallout. And if there's a lesson to be learned from the election, it's that it's healthy to try to understand people you don't agree with. O'Rourke did not write this collection after the election. These are essays written as the campaign was unfolding, concluding just after the election. Bottom line, much of the book is funny -- if you like your humour to be really bleak. O'Rourke has a clever acerbic turn of phrase. His libertarian politics did make my toes curl big time more than a few times. But he spares no one -- although he most most reluctantly endorses Hillary Clinton. And he reserves his best wickedness for a certain someone currently wreaking havoc in the White House -- and pretty much every where else. I wish nothing more than for American politics to become boring again, but in the meantime thank goodness for political humour. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    “The elites fail and don’t suffer any consequences from their failures.” (2.5 stars) P.J. O’Rourke is one of America’s drollest political writers, and he is a smart guy too. Mr. O’Rourke is indeed funny in “How the Hell Did This Happen? The Election of 2016”, but the text is just too bitter (and at times mean) for my tastes. This book seems to have been promoted as being anti-Trump, another conservative has seen the light and supports Mrs. Clinton, etc. It is not that at all. Mr. O’Rourke does not “The elites fail and don’t suffer any consequences from their failures.” (2.5 stars) P.J. O’Rourke is one of America’s drollest political writers, and he is a smart guy too. Mr. O’Rourke is indeed funny in “How the Hell Did This Happen? The Election of 2016”, but the text is just too bitter (and at times mean) for my tastes. This book seems to have been promoted as being anti-Trump, another conservative has seen the light and supports Mrs. Clinton, etc. It is not that at all. Mr. O’Rourke does not even remotely like Donald Trump, but he is equally brutal towards Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and most of the Republican candidates in 2016. This book is anti-establishment, at least anti those who have risen to the top of the current American political system establishment. The text is really just a collection of writings, musings, columns etc. that the author wrote over the course of the 2016 presidential race. A highlight of the text are the 3 chapters called “What They Stand For, and Can We Stand It?” where O’Rourke examines the official platforms of the Clinton, Trump and Sanders tickets and excoriates all of them, especially Sanders. Also interesting and well done were the chapters “Our Higgledy-Piggledy Primary System and How It Higgles our Pigs” and the final chapter “The Revolt Against the Elites”. As mentioned, O‘Rourke can be very funny. I did laugh out loud at times and the text is one you can read at leisure. Hit a chapter, put it down and come back to it later when in the mood. I leave you with some quotes from the text that I appreciated in some form- “Individuals would never have killed Socrates. They had to become a mob first.” “Good things are made by free individuals in free association with other individuals. Notice that that’s how we make babies. Individual freedom is about bringing things together. Politics is about dividing things up. Elites would have us make babies by putting the woman on this side of the room and the man on that side of the room while the elites stand in the middle taxing the sperm and eggs.” “When are voters in both political parties going to realize that politics is a two-way street? The politician creates a powerful, huge, heavy and unstoppable Monster Truck of a government. Then supporters of that politician become shocked and weepy when another politician, whom they detest, gets behind the wheel, turns the truck around, and runs them over.” “But politics is not the art of being-let alone doing-good.” “Consistency is not a hallmark of American politics, but exceptions are made when the constant is stupidity.”

  5. 5 out of 5

    Scott Rhee

    I became a fan of P.J. O’Rourke in college, when a friend of mine lent me one of his books to read. It should be known that I went to Miami University of Ohio, the same school O’Rourke attended, and graduated from, in 1968. Like O’Rourke, I was a leftist hippy. Unlike O’Rourke, I never “outgrew” my liberalism and became a Republican. I am still, at age 46, a Democrat and a pretty liberal one, to boot. That I’m still a fan of O’Rourke is a testament to how damn funny he is. O’Rourke has had an ext I became a fan of P.J. O’Rourke in college, when a friend of mine lent me one of his books to read. It should be known that I went to Miami University of Ohio, the same school O’Rourke attended, and graduated from, in 1968. Like O’Rourke, I was a leftist hippy. Unlike O’Rourke, I never “outgrew” my liberalism and became a Republican. I am still, at age 46, a Democrat and a pretty liberal one, to boot. That I’m still a fan of O’Rourke is a testament to how damn funny he is. O’Rourke has had an extensive career writing about a plethora of subjects: cars, sports, women, drinking, politics, etc., but he has tended to write mostly, and bestly (I know, it’s not a word, but it fits), about politics. It’s a subject that he makes fun of frequently, often claiming that it’s extremely boring, but for a subject that he finds boring, he clearly spends an awful lot of time studying it. Indeed, he’s written over 20 books over the years, the vast majority of them about politics, which leads me to think that he is full of shit, in a good way. O’Rourke would be the first to admit that he is a bullshitter. And a pretty good one, too. So he recognizes a bullshitter when he sees one. In 2015, his bullshit-o-meter went off the charts during the start of the 2016 presidential election. It was dinging all over the place. In his 2017 book, “How the Hell Did This Happen?”, O’Rourke ruminates on the Theater-of-the-Absurd that was the 2016 election season in a series of essays and articles that he wrote and published in a myriad of sources, including The Daily Beast, The Weekly Standard, and Esquire. They are spot-on, and they are, of course, funny as hell. The biggest surprise, of course, was the essay in which O’Rourke flatly states, “I Endorse Hillary”. Unlike many of his fellow Republicans, O’Rourke knew that Trump was bad news: “Better the devil you know than the devil who knows nothing. A devil who can’t even figure out where the gates of hell are, and they’e got his name right on them at Trump Tower. (p. 165)” I’m sure he got a lot of shit for that from his Republican pals, but O’Rourke isn’t the type to give a shit about stuff like his reputation or getting invited to Republican fund-raisers. Amidst all the humor, however, is a very sane, worrisome, and angry castigation against party politics in general and the idiocy of so many people who helped make the election of Donald Trump possible, namely all Americans.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn Bashaar

    I got a few good laughs out of this book, which was what I read it for. O’Rourke claims to be a libertarian. He definitely leans more right than left and is a bit of a Republican apologist. Although, to his great credit, he did hold his nose and vote for Clinton over Trump in 2016. The last essay in his book is an attempt to analyze the reasons for the 2016 election results. I think he gets it mostly right, except that he leaves out one important factor. He doesn’t even mention the right-wing “n I got a few good laughs out of this book, which was what I read it for. O’Rourke claims to be a libertarian. He definitely leans more right than left and is a bit of a Republican apologist. Although, to his great credit, he did hold his nose and vote for Clinton over Trump in 2016. The last essay in his book is an attempt to analyze the reasons for the 2016 election results. I think he gets it mostly right, except that he leaves out one important factor. He doesn’t even mention the right-wing “news” machine: talk radio, internet extremism, Fox News, and Koch and Mercer-financed political propaganda. Yes, average people feel ignored by elites. Yes, the middle and working classes have taken it on the chin economically over the past few decades. But, Trump is the opposite of the answer to those problems. The right-wing propaganda machine has thoroughly brainwashed a large segment of the middle and working class to vote against their own self-interest, and that’s how we got Trump. O’Rourke ignores this, which is why I call him a Republican apologist. Like my reviews? Check out my blog at http://www.kathrynbashaar.com/blog/ Author of The Saint's Mistress: https://www.bing.com/search?q=amazon....

  7. 5 out of 5

    Antonomasia

    At the moment, I can't even bring myself to read status updates from serious books like Insane Clown President (however great that title is), but this - if only it were out already - I reckon I could manage. However: has PJ's humour aged well? Not read him this --- century, though I was a fan in my teens. At the moment, I can't even bring myself to read status updates from serious books like Insane Clown President (however great that title is), but this - if only it were out already - I reckon I could manage. However: has PJ's humour aged well? Not read him this --- century, though I was a fan in my teens.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Graeme Roberts

    This package of Mr. O'Rourke's columns dealing with the 2016 presidential election is slight, funny, and depressing. His disgust and contempt for Donald Trump exceeded his trenchant dislike for the boring, smarmy Hillary Clinton, so he endorsed her. For a lifelong Republican and conservative (whatever that means), that does make for a "man bites dog" story worth telling. His descriptions of the various appalling candidates are hilarious and very depressing. The American party system is horribly This package of Mr. O'Rourke's columns dealing with the 2016 presidential election is slight, funny, and depressing. His disgust and contempt for Donald Trump exceeded his trenchant dislike for the boring, smarmy Hillary Clinton, so he endorsed her. For a lifelong Republican and conservative (whatever that means), that does make for a "man bites dog" story worth telling. His descriptions of the various appalling candidates are hilarious and very depressing. The American party system is horribly dysfunctional, the primaries are ridiculous, and the electoral college needs work. Mr. O'Rourke rails at the various elites as much as the ignorant and stupid, but I was unconvinced. Give me an intelligent, educated, and experienced captain and senior officers when I take my family on-board ship.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Susan Rainwater

    I read Barbara Tuchman's explorations of history in my 30s. They were fascinating and insightful. Then in 2000, Tuchman published her last book, The First Salute. It was tinged with bitterness, and seemed like a poor finale to a fine career. I've read a fair few of P. J. O'Rourke's books. They have been funny, sarcastic, insightful. Never bitter, until this one. O'Rourke, like Tuchman, thinks we as a country should have our act together by now. He thinks the candidates on both sides are self-ser I read Barbara Tuchman's explorations of history in my 30s. They were fascinating and insightful. Then in 2000, Tuchman published her last book, The First Salute. It was tinged with bitterness, and seemed like a poor finale to a fine career. I've read a fair few of P. J. O'Rourke's books. They have been funny, sarcastic, insightful. Never bitter, until this one. O'Rourke, like Tuchman, thinks we as a country should have our act together by now. He thinks the candidates on both sides are self-serving, corrupt, immature, and possibly insane. I don't disagree with him. I'm just not up to plowing through 200+ pages of O'Rourke's late-in-life regrets. I have my own. So, I am abandoning this book, and don't recommend it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    No insight, no analysis, and little that could be considered humor. Easily the worst book O'Rourke has ever had published. No insight, no analysis, and little that could be considered humor. Easily the worst book O'Rourke has ever had published.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gordon

    This book's best line by far in on the back of the book's jacket: "Donald Trump got most of his campaigning done on the cheap by making a public spectacle of himself. He set his pants on fire knowing that reporters and film crews would have to cover the blaze." You can stop reading at that point and suffer little loss as a result. PJ O'Rourke is a cranky old Republican, self-described, although in reality he's mostly a libertarian who thinks government should be approximately the same size as it This book's best line by far in on the back of the book's jacket: "Donald Trump got most of his campaigning done on the cheap by making a public spectacle of himself. He set his pants on fire knowing that reporters and film crews would have to cover the blaze." You can stop reading at that point and suffer little loss as a result. PJ O'Rourke is a cranky old Republican, self-described, although in reality he's mostly a libertarian who thinks government should be approximately the same size as it was in 1823. He hates Republicans and Democrats with equal energy and vituperation. He covered the 2016 presidential election campaign and clearly found it distasteful, as it indeed was. The structure of his book mostly consists of short chapters with acerbic sketches of each of the MANY candidates, especially the horde of Republican aspirants to their party's nomination. He found Hillary Clinton robotic, dull, know-it-all, and just not humble enough, dammit. He found Trump reprehensible, a know-nothing conman whose only skills were defrauding his investors with his many bankruptcies, playing a reality TV star, and grubbing for publicity. When it came down to a choice, he favored Clinton over Trump just because he found her the "second worst" candidate for president. Usually O'Rourke can be counted on for some genuine insights along with his trademark zingers and over-the-top ranting, but this effort does not rise to that level. Skip it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    John

    Fans of Dennis Miller-style comedy will be amused by this take on the 2016 election, though I don't find O'Rourke's analysis particularly valuable. Most of the book was written during the primaries, and O'Rourke was no better at predicting the outcomes than, say, a Magic 8 Ball. But at least he's man enough to admit his mistakes, unlike most journalists and pundits. P.J. O'Rourke was a Never Trumper who voted for Hillary despite considering her "wrong about everything." His rationalization was th Fans of Dennis Miller-style comedy will be amused by this take on the 2016 election, though I don't find O'Rourke's analysis particularly valuable. Most of the book was written during the primaries, and O'Rourke was no better at predicting the outcomes than, say, a Magic 8 Ball. But at least he's man enough to admit his mistakes, unlike most journalists and pundits. P.J. O'Rourke was a Never Trumper who voted for Hillary despite considering her "wrong about everything." His rationalization was that she represented "the devil we know." His naked and unbridled contempt for Trump, combined with his lionization of John Kasich and Joe Biden, strikes a sour note with me, though I don't begrudge him his opinions; I just don't think they've aged well in retrospect. Furthermore, unlike other prominent Never Trumpers such as Glenn Beck and Ben Shapiro, P.J. O'Rourke has yet to warm to Trump even one iota. Though considered a rabid conservative by folks on the left, the way he writes about Trump's tax cuts, Supreme Court nominations, etc. would make you think he's a liberal Democrat. The book mostly consists of O'Rourke taking shots at everybody as though he were the last contender in a political roast. Apart from Kasich and Biden, Ben Carson and Rand Paul are the only candidates who come through mostly unscathed; everyone else gets it with both barrels. His harshness toward candidates like Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee seems particularly out of balance, but I enjoy a good comedy roast as much of as next guy. Regardless of whether or not you agree with him, P.J. O'Rourke is an entertaining writer with a razor-sharp wit. A few chapters belly-flop onto the page--such as the one critiquing the candidates' fashion sense (or lack thereof), and the one explaining why our First Ladies should rule the country instead of their husbands--but overall it makes for an enjoyable reflection on an election that happened only two-and-a-half years prior but already feels like ages past. I listened to it on audio, and it was a treat to hear O'Rourke narrate it himself as opposed to the somber reader they got for his ON THE WEALTH OF NATIONS audiobook. I just wish I didn't have to hear him rustling the pages so often. Where did they place the mic, in the crease of the book's spine? A lot of these chapters started out as articles on The Daily Beast website, so head over there for a preview, or if you simply want to read them for free.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Fred Forbes

    Well, bumped it up a bit, really about 3.5 stars. While I am left of his right wing slant, I do enjoy his insight and his clever turn of phrase - assuming one is into the art of insult. I won't rehash the election, the book is interesting in that regard and since this is a collection of items he wrote during same, it lacks cohesion and continuity throughout. I tend to classify myself and am registered as an independent which he indicates is "... a person who doesn't know what to think. And is pr Well, bumped it up a bit, really about 3.5 stars. While I am left of his right wing slant, I do enjoy his insight and his clever turn of phrase - assuming one is into the art of insult. I won't rehash the election, the book is interesting in that regard and since this is a collection of items he wrote during same, it lacks cohesion and continuity throughout. I tend to classify myself and am registered as an independent which he indicates is "... a person who doesn't know what to think. And is proud of it." As he examines the attire of presidents and candidates over the years, his insults are more creative than most - "Trump's suits fit too badly to be an accident. They fit as if they're from his Donald J. Trump Signature Collection. priced from $155.87 and making you look like a hundred bucks." Actually, that is fairly kind compared his remarks on Hillary's clothes. Observations on everything from modern culture - "[Today's music] sounds like potty mouths falling down a flight of stairs while carrying a drum set" to noting the word "populism" - "At best, it is a name common in most democracies: There exists a large herd of the clueless, and running circles around them is a small pack of wiseacres." By the way, when he discusses the revolt against the elites that characterize recent elections (and not just those of the U.S.) he notes "...and kind reader, you. You're reading a book. What's more, it's a book about a serious subject (however flippantly treated). This marks you as an elite." He goes on to mention that the problem "The conundrum of failure in every revolt against the elites is that when you succeed in overthrowing them you become them." Should be an interesting next few years! For those who enjoy the give and take of politics and interesting observations this is a fun book to read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Janet Zehr

    Witty and cynical review of 2016 presidential election. Mr. ORourke writes his opinion of all the candidates who ran in 2016. He deplores every one of them. After trashing them all with withering wit, he endorses Hillary Clinton, although he refers to her as a lying crone . He especially despises Trump and heaps abuse on him and his corrupt campaign. The author identifies himself as a Republican, though he confesses that he is more a libertarian. The wit is razor_sharp but becomes tiresome after a Witty and cynical review of 2016 presidential election. Mr. ORourke writes his opinion of all the candidates who ran in 2016. He deplores every one of them. After trashing them all with withering wit, he endorses Hillary Clinton, although he refers to her as a lying crone . He especially despises Trump and heaps abuse on him and his corrupt campaign. The author identifies himself as a Republican, though he confesses that he is more a libertarian. The wit is razor_sharp but becomes tiresome after awhile.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rita

    Read this book for my local Democratic Women's book club. Personally, I just couldn't get into the authors' flippant sardonic take on the recent presidential race. I am not laughing about any of it. I am sickened by it all. Read this book for my local Democratic Women's book club. Personally, I just couldn't get into the authors' flippant sardonic take on the recent presidential race. I am not laughing about any of it. I am sickened by it all.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michael Sparrow

    A couple of laughs, but mostly obvious--and tedious. P.J. has squandered his gift.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ed Kohinke sr.

    This book, even for political satire, is mostly flippant, pseudo-intellectual tripe and claptrap.

  18. 4 out of 5

    John of Canada

    He did good job of explaining why I will never involve myself in another election.Also,I now completely understand pundits.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Spinfisher

    A disjointed and not even droll series of chapters devoid of meaning, analysis, conclusions, theories, or even humor.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sid Nuncius

    This is a collection, with minor subsequent editing, of some of P.J. O'Rourke's journalism and speeches on the 2016 US Presidential election…which pretty much tells you all you need to know. My politics are most certainly not the same as his, but I always find him both amusing and thought-provoking (and occasionally just provoking). This is, as usual, full of wit, bile and genuine erudition, and if you like O'Rourke's work, you'll like this. There are, of course, plenty of laughs. He hasn't lost This is a collection, with minor subsequent editing, of some of P.J. O'Rourke's journalism and speeches on the 2016 US Presidential election…which pretty much tells you all you need to know. My politics are most certainly not the same as his, but I always find him both amusing and thought-provoking (and occasionally just provoking). This is, as usual, full of wit, bile and genuine erudition, and if you like O'Rourke's work, you'll like this. There are, of course, plenty of laughs. He hasn't lost his ability to come up with a scathing one-liner or a crushing put-down. A couple of examples I liked are: "…a progressive Republican. This is a creature something like the pshumi-pullyu in the Dr. Dolittle stories but with two butt ends." Or the (in context) slightly self-mocking "To me, most popular music sounds like angry potty mouths falling down a flight of stairs while carrying a drum set." He excoriates pretty well all the candidates, because he thinks that they are a bunch hopelessly unfitted for the office of President, but deluded enough to think they have what it takes. He is merciless on both Trump and Clinton – but does manage to be very graceful about both Ben Carson (Republican candidate) and Joe Biden (Democrat who didn't stand), which I found very refreshing. It's not all brilliant; it gets a bit repetitive at times, and there are some longish passges which didn't do much for me (like an extended riff on the wives of past Presidents), but this is an amusing and insightful read which I can recommend.

  21. 4 out of 5

    C

    _How The Hell Did This Happen_ by P. J. O’Rourke is subtitled “The Election of 2016”, and it is all about the United States presidential election campaign that ended in 2016. Spoilers: O’Rourke does not like either of the main party candidates, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. He likes Trump less and even has an entire chapter titled “I Endorse Hillary”. That said, he dislikes all the candidates, all the parties, the entire nomination process, and a lot of other things about the 2016 presidential _How The Hell Did This Happen_ by P. J. O’Rourke is subtitled “The Election of 2016”, and it is all about the United States presidential election campaign that ended in 2016. Spoilers: O’Rourke does not like either of the main party candidates, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. He likes Trump less and even has an entire chapter titled “I Endorse Hillary”. That said, he dislikes all the candidates, all the parties, the entire nomination process, and a lot of other things about the 2016 presidential election campaign. _How the Hell Did This Happen?_ is a fast read, it’s 216 pages and I finished it in a day. He starts prior to June 2015 and ends shortly after the election ends. The things that really stood out for me: - Chapter 13 was about presidential primaries and caucuses and had some highlights from the history of U.S. presidential campaigns. In particular, both Hamilton and Madison warned very strongly against political parties in _The Federalist Papers_, and then each went on to found political parties. George Washington was also very opposed to political parties and strongly spoke against them in his Farewell Address. Until the 1830s, presidential candidates for a party were chosen by that party’s congressional delegation; the first nominating convention was in 1831 for the Anti-Masonic party; and primaries and caucuses first started appearing in 1901. O’Rourke also points out that compared to political parties in other countries, United States political parties are more tendencies about multiple topics that sometimes coincide, and sometimes don’t, than they are dedicated long-term ideological alliances. - Chapter 17, Fashion Notes, was extremely fascinating. O’Rourke is old enough and has moved in enough different social circles that he is much more familiar with the fine points and subtle signals of business wear in general and men’s business wear in particular than I am. It’s probably a chapter I’ll go back and re-read. O’Rourke has such observations as noting that given where Trump buys his suits, he must purposely order them to be ill-fitting for them to be as ill-fitting as they are. Clinton’s pant suits are from a designer who uses fabrics that don’t wrinkle when packed. One of Sanders’ suits is black, and about the only professions that that wear black suits today are funeral directors, limousine drivers, and Brooklyn hipsters. There’s comments about the clothing of many of the other Republican candidates, including whose suits were quite expensive and which looked more . . . “affordable”. - Chapter 23, a hilarious letter from 2016 O’Rourke to his 1968 self, telling his younger Marxist college-attending self how much the world would be changing, and asking his younger self to avert an electoral apocalypse in 2016 by tracking down both Sanders and Rodham in their respective colleges and putting them on paths that would keep both out of national politics. - Chapter 28, a short but sad and foreboding chapter about the changes to the American electorate, and that we’ve gone from wanting leaders who were admirable — to leaders who are likable — to leaders who are neither and really aren’t leaders at all. - The Glossary that translates Punditese to English, including separate entries when necessary for Conservative Punditese and Liberal Punditese. - It’s refreshing to read someone who is not so afraid of offending some group that they never use comparisons or exaggerations or stereotypes for humor. There’s not a lot of profanity in _How the Hell Did This Happen?_, but if you’re sensitive to micro-aggressions or stereotypes, this is not the book for you. Example: “Trump’s suits are expensive, according to Trump, but they have a cut and sheen as if they came from the trunk sale of a visiting Bombay tailor staying in a cheap hotel in Trump’s native Queens and taking a nip between fittings. Trump wears neckties in Outer Borough colors. And, Donald, the end of your necktie belongs up around your belt buckle, not between your knees and your nuts. Trump’s haircut makes Kim Jong Un laugh.” - O’Rourke is very educated and informed and it’s a pleasure (and sometimes a bit of a challenge) to read an author who sprinkles so many historical and classical references through his writings when he really gets wound up. There’s a whole entire chapter where he takes on a lot of Huckabee’s positions and O’Rourke points out many Biblical verses that should make Huckabee reconsider some of his opinions. From the chapter on why he’s endorsing Clinton: “Better to root up the garden of free enterprise with the Democratic pig than run off a protectionist cliff with the Gadarene swine Republican. Better a Scylla rock of a Clinton, which can be climbed and conquered, than a Charybdis whirlpool that takes us down the toilet with Trump. Better to lay a sewer pipe that is Clinton than to lie in that sewer looking up to a reality TV star. Better a Marie Antoinette of the left saying, “Let them eat fruit and fiber” than a sans-culotte in Madame Defarge drag who would be Robespierre if he could spell it. Since Athens in the fifth century BC the worst enemy of democracy has been the demagogue. But — O tempora! O mores! — now we’ve got a firebrand soapbox orator who cannot so much as put a coherent sentence together. He likes to ‘talk bigly.’” There’s thirty chapters in the book in addition to the Author’s Note, Preamble, Glossary and Acknowledgments. So most of the chapters are short and if you want to read them a bit at a time, the book is well-suited for that. A bit of background on O’Rourke himself: he was 68 a time of writing of the book and is roughly the same age as both Trump and Clinton; O’Rourke was a Communist while he was in college; over the years he gradually became a Libertarian-leaning small-government Republican; he’s written for publications all over the political spectrum, and on all types of topics; parts of this book were previously published in _The Daily Beast_, the _Stansberry Digest_, the _Weekly Standard_, _Esquire_, _Briefings_, and BBC radio. Four stars, not five, because there’s no index. And with a book with this many historical facts and references, I really wish there had been an index.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Paul O'Leary

    Dammit! I want to give this more stars. I really do. O'Rourke was something of a personal hero of mine when I was in my early twenties. Republican Party Reptile, Parliament of Whores, and All The Trouble In The World remain favorites, regardless of genre. Unfortunately, this loose-fitting sack of a collection of essays reminded me more than a little of Hunter Thompson's writing in the 80s. A little out of touch, a little less than rapier sharp; but most of all definitely less poignant and funny. Dammit! I want to give this more stars. I really do. O'Rourke was something of a personal hero of mine when I was in my early twenties. Republican Party Reptile, Parliament of Whores, and All The Trouble In The World remain favorites, regardless of genre. Unfortunately, this loose-fitting sack of a collection of essays reminded me more than a little of Hunter Thompson's writing in the 80s. A little out of touch, a little less than rapier sharp; but most of all definitely less poignant and funny. I'm left with a somewhat sad feeling after reading What the Hell Just Happened; a little bit like when the family pet has been retired permanently to the backyard to....well, really retire. P.J's big reveal, after a cavalcade of mots mostly less than bon, is that American voters are revolting against elites. Really? Wow! Let me grab a bag to catch my breath, or, you know, barf into. Sure, "elites fail and don't suffer any consequences from their failures" prompting voter outrage over voter equanimity; sure, "(I)f America didn't want a poor choice of leaders, America wouldn't have a poor choice of leaders", but where does responsibility over recklessness, thought over emotion, edification over entertainment eventually come in? O'Rourke gives us little to hope for. Perhaps he's right not to give us more; though his alternative "solutions" on how to elect a President aren't even half serious offerings and merely invoke memories of P.J's Animal House days long past. Aside from brief libertarian references to individual freedom, dignity, and responsibility, the reader is left with little more than "(t)his is not a teachable moment". I agree, but not without an ample degree of all-around ennui. A strange feeling to have after reading a book by a renown political humorist of O'Rourke's talents and stature. Goodbye old friend, whom I've never met. I have and do miss you...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Colin

    This is a slightly painful read. PJ O'Rourke has always been the exception to the rule that American Republicans aren't funny. In that light, a modern reworking of "Parliament of Whores" seems like a good idea, but now he's writing during and immediately after the election of 2016, as the chickens come home to roost and years of Republican bashing of the government finally produce a candidate who isn't one; a brutish, mendacious, horny megalomaniac who wants to abolish all the checks and balance This is a slightly painful read. PJ O'Rourke has always been the exception to the rule that American Republicans aren't funny. In that light, a modern reworking of "Parliament of Whores" seems like a good idea, but now he's writing during and immediately after the election of 2016, as the chickens come home to roost and years of Republican bashing of the government finally produce a candidate who isn't one; a brutish, mendacious, horny megalomaniac who wants to abolish all the checks and balances that hold him back from full tyrannical control. Even O'Rourke can see, at this point, that Hillary is the better option but its too late now.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Don Gillette

    If you like your current events with a little humor or you thought Bob Woodward's Fear was a little dry, you should try this one. Although he's a Republican, P.J. O'Rourke is still spot-on about the shithead who won the presidency in 2016 and he makes no bones about what a colossal mistake it was for the country to ever let him get close to the White House. O'Rourke's still as funny as he was in his National Lampoon days, if a bit more jaded now, and he can almost--but not quite--take your mind o If you like your current events with a little humor or you thought Bob Woodward's Fear was a little dry, you should try this one. Although he's a Republican, P.J. O'Rourke is still spot-on about the shithead who won the presidency in 2016 and he makes no bones about what a colossal mistake it was for the country to ever let him get close to the White House. O'Rourke's still as funny as he was in his National Lampoon days, if a bit more jaded now, and he can almost--but not quite--take your mind off the shitstorm we're currently in as a country.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Olwen

    This is the first book by O'Rourke I've had the chance to read. Really enjoyed his deft skill with words, laughed out loud many times. The subject matter, though, would make most sense to an American or someone who follows American politics closely (I'm Australian). Still, I'm looking forward to reading more of O'Rourke's writings, just because they're so damn enjoyable. This is the first book by O'Rourke I've had the chance to read. Really enjoyed his deft skill with words, laughed out loud many times. The subject matter, though, would make most sense to an American or someone who follows American politics closely (I'm Australian). Still, I'm looking forward to reading more of O'Rourke's writings, just because they're so damn enjoyable.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mary Smith

    even though I think P.J. is funny, I still disagree with him. Such is life I guess. But its going to take a very very long time before I can look back at this past campaign season with any sense of humor.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Truthful and insightful in typical O'Rourke fashion, jabbing where it hurts the most. He doesn't spare Trump or Clinton. The edition I read contains additional material post-election and O'Rourke smacks home the truth about populism, fear and the loss of individual thought and freedoms. Truthful and insightful in typical O'Rourke fashion, jabbing where it hurts the most. He doesn't spare Trump or Clinton. The edition I read contains additional material post-election and O'Rourke smacks home the truth about populism, fear and the loss of individual thought and freedoms.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Skylar Burris

    I usually like P.J. O'Rourke, but this book has a short shelf life. It's a little over a year old and already felt quite dated when I read it. He eviscerates every major Democrat and Republican candidate in the 2016 election with near equal glee, though Trump gets an extra measure. The book is too much bitter rant and not enough clever humour, and there is almost no analysis (he usually shows more political insight in his books). The best part is the glossary of pundit terms at the back, which w I usually like P.J. O'Rourke, but this book has a short shelf life. It's a little over a year old and already felt quite dated when I read it. He eviscerates every major Democrat and Republican candidate in the 2016 election with near equal glee, though Trump gets an extra measure. The book is too much bitter rant and not enough clever humour, and there is almost no analysis (he usually shows more political insight in his books). The best part is the glossary of pundit terms at the back, which was consistent in making me chuckle. I'm not sorry I read the book, but I'd put it toward the bottom of the list of P.J. O'Rourke books. Maybe at the very bottom.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Autumn

    Sharp, witty, uncomfortably honest, occasionally biting, and perpetually hilarious, How the Hell Did This Happen? is a short collection of essays written over the course of the 2016 presidential election. Although you by no means need to be a Libertarian to appreciate this book, it certainly helps. O'Rourke has a Bill Maher-esque approach towards life - albeit less cynical - which, paired with his quick audio delivery, makes for one hell of a political satire. How the Hell Did This Happen? doesn Sharp, witty, uncomfortably honest, occasionally biting, and perpetually hilarious, How the Hell Did This Happen? is a short collection of essays written over the course of the 2016 presidential election. Although you by no means need to be a Libertarian to appreciate this book, it certainly helps. O'Rourke has a Bill Maher-esque approach towards life - albeit less cynical - which, paired with his quick audio delivery, makes for one hell of a political satire. How the Hell Did This Happen? doesn't have the tightest format (something which O'Rourke admits to in the first chapter), yet there is something to be said for the unfolding narrative of the 2016 election cycle. We already know how this story ends, but if we're going to relive it all again, then we might as well have a few good laughs along the way.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Mills

    Just funny, even in retrospect. His analysis of the "characters" in the 2016 presidential race is spot on while being irreverent and hysterical. No one is safe from O'Rourke's poison pen, although he does grudgingly show some "like" for Rand Paul. Being a conservative/classical liberal does not stop him from lampooning the Reptilian contestants as cruelly as he does the Dumbocrap ones. Just funny, even in retrospect. His analysis of the "characters" in the 2016 presidential race is spot on while being irreverent and hysterical. No one is safe from O'Rourke's poison pen, although he does grudgingly show some "like" for Rand Paul. Being a conservative/classical liberal does not stop him from lampooning the Reptilian contestants as cruelly as he does the Dumbocrap ones.

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