Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Review: What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Title: What Happened
Author: Hillary Rodham Clinton
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publish Date: September 12, 2017
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "For the first time, Hillary Rodham Clinton reveals what she was thinking and feeling during one of the most controversial and unpredictable presidential elections in history. Now free from the constraints of running, Clinton takes you inside the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules. This is her most personal memoir yet.

In these pages, she describes what it was like to run against Donald Trump, the mistakes she made, how she has coped with a shocking and devastating loss, and how she found the strength to pick herself back up afterward. With humor and candor, she tells readers what it took to get back on her feet—the rituals, relationships, and reading that got her through, and what the experience has taught her about life. She speaks about the challenges of being a strong woman in the public eye, the criticism over her voice, age, and appearance, and the double standard confronting women in politics.

She lays out how the 2016 election was marked by an unprecedented assault on our democracy by a foreign adversary. By analyzing the evidence and connecting the dots, Clinton shows just how dangerous the forces are that shaped the outcome, and why Americans need to understand them to protect American values and democracy in the future."

My Two Cents:

"What Happened" is the book that all of my fellow political nerds have been buzzing about this fall. Love her or hate her, even a year later, it's hard not to want to dissect what happened, what is happening, and perhaps even what might have been when it comes to the 2016 election. This book gives us some insight into how Hillary Clinton sees things and it's fascinating. The election was hard and quite the slog. For Clinton, it was particular bitter: winning the popular vote but losing the Electoral College vote.

Part of my interest in this book was seeing how Clinton herself thought about how and why things fell apart. I know I've been over it in my own mind many, many times. She touches on many hot button issues: the sheer fact of being a woman in politics, Russia, emails (or as the chapter about those emails puts it: "Those Damn Emails." Some of this was old territory (no more emails, please) but the piece about being a woman really hit home for me. Clinton has faced criticism based on sex throughout her career. It was interesting to see how she pulled this all together so that she could talk about how it affected her even as First Lady and before as a lawyer. You have to give it to her: she never let this hold her back. It was really inspiring.

Self-critique is hard. I get that and I think if most of us were being completely honest with ourselves, we couldn't write a book that is as critical about ourselves. Clinton tries but there are still blind spots. It's human nature to have those blind spots but I would have liked to hear more about the lack of excitement to draw voters out in droves. That proverbial spark is so hard to determine though and is quite difficult to put a finger on.

In addition to being a political nerd, I am also very much a history nerd. I know this is one book that I will be thinking about as our country moves on. There are many implications (some known, some just barely now known, and certainly some unknown) that I believe will continue to affect us. This book has some wise words for the future to be sure.



  1. I am really curious about this book too and your review only increased my curiosity. Great review.
    sherry @ fundinmental

  2. I have this on my list of books I want to read but it hasn't been high-priority. I do want to bump it up there, though!

  3. I'm really curious about this one. I may pick it up some time this month.


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