By Hillary Rodham Clinton
Read by: Hillary Rodham Clinton
Length: 16 hrs and 50 mins
Publisher: Simon & Schuster | Simon and Schuster Audio
I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
“In the past, for reasons I try to explain, I’ve often felt I had to be careful in public, like I was up on a wire without a net. Now I’m letting my guard down.” —Hillary Rodham Clinton, from the introduction of What Happened
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, Hillary 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, Hillary shows just how dangerous the forces are that shaped the outcome, and why Americans need to understand them to protect our values and our democracy in the future.
The election of 2016 was unprecedented and historic. What Happened is the story of that campaign and its aftermath—both a deeply intimate account and a cautionary tale for the nation.
I cried with joy, pride and excitement in July of 2016 as Hillary Clinton became the first woman nominated to be president by a major party. I cried for different reasons in November when I woke up to learn that Donald Trump had been elected. I’m still having a hard time with the Trump Presidency — as are many of my friends.
If my friends and I had, and continue to have, a hard time with this, I could only imagine how Hillary felt that day and in the days that followed.
Now I don’t have to imagine it. Like may famous people who have undergone a difficult experience, Rodham-Clinton has written a book (not her first) about the election and narrated it.
But, would the book ring true and would her narration feel sincere?
The response is that her narration did feel true. I learned a lot more about Hillary Clinton in this book than I knew. For example, I never knew, and I was surprised by, how grounded she is in her faith. I am not a religious person, but I can admire that she turns to sensible writings she has read for many years to center herself when she is troubled.
The autobiographical portions of the book are meaningfully interwoven with a step-by-step analysis of what she and her people feel cost her the election. I believed her here as well.
I recently read Scott Adams new book about the election and, though I was disappointed in it, I thought his analysis of how the election was won by President Trump’s use of messaging rather than traditional politics and policy development was true (I disagreed mostly with how he treated the Trump-persona and the ethics of political behavior). But, Clinton uses salient metrics and reasoning to make her case about other factors — and some of those factors are still under investigation. She also offers beneficial actions people unhappy with the election results can do to create positive change.
I’m not going to argue with you about Hillary Clinton’s character, her flaws or her positive qualities and experience. Her character is not the point of this post. It’s whether the book she wrote was one I enjoyed and felt was time well-spent; also whether I felt it was sincere and if the narration was well-done. I enjoyed it and I learned a lot about her and politics and was entertained. I was impressed when she admitted mistakes and thought her delivery was warm and sincere.
Clinton’s education and her experience as a public speaker made her narration emotional, funny and serious. Her experience as a writer – as an author, lawyer, and policy maker — certainly add quality to the text.
I have heard that Clinton is very personable one-on-one; and she even admits her delivery to crowds can seem cool and aloof. This book feels like a one-on-one conversation and I recommend it if you are perplexed by our current political environment and enjoy autobiographies read by the author.