One of the most shocking and controversial days in American history seems not too far behind us, but it is relived in Hillary Clinton’s newest memoir, "What Happened." Both parts inspiring and shocking, the book dissects what really occurred before and during the election, as well as what Clinton believes should happen in the future.
Throughout the memoir, the Democratic nominee discusses her motivation for running and thoughts on what really happened during her campaign—including the surprising loss of the 2016 election.
She delves into an uncensored version of political sexism and misogyny. She writes, “[T]he data show that for men, likability and professional success are correlated. The more successful a man is, the more people like him. With women, it’s the exact opposite.”
While she may have, self-admittedly, held back during her election campaign, she lets her thoughts and opinions known in What Happened. Some examples of her newfound nerve includes opinions on the campaign run by Democratic nominee opponent Bernie Sanders. While she expresses her gratitude for his support in the general election, she critiques some of his character attacks during the primaries. The critique may be a divisive standpoint for readers who are supporters of Sanders.
One of the standout moments of the memoir is when Clinton devotes an entire chapter to discuss one of the major components as to why she believes she lost: the leaked emails.
In the chapter, aptly titled “Those Damn Emails,” she takes full responsibility and blame for using her personal email, but doesn’t truly understand the reason behind the controversy. She even takes several examples of emails from her personal account and gives an explanation for them. She addresses how harshly she believes she was criticized for her personal email accounts, stating how multiple government officials have used personal email accounts while in office and have faced no repercussions. Adding this chapter to What Happened was not truly necessary, but did play to her attempt at humanization.
What really makes "What Happened" work is the behind-the-scenes look at daily life on the campaign trail. Some of the best passages come from lighthearted entries with her staff members, as well as the heavier ones with Clinton visiting some members of the Flint community and the mothers of gun violence victims. These passages shine the light back to the actual issues.
One of the major focuses of the book, naturally, is Donald Trump and how his policies, behavior and conduct shaped the course and results of the controversial election. One of the major aspects she hits on in the memoir is the unusual relationship between Trump and Russian politicians. She openly comments on the alleged “bromance” between the president and Vladimir Putin. She goes onto describe the relationships as a “bizarre fascination [Trump has] with dictators and strong men.”
Her analysis on the election’s Russian interference provides both data and research behind the issue, concluding that what is happening is much more serious and dangerous than Watergate.
She writes, “Trump doesn’t think in terms of morality or human rights, he only thinks in terms of power and dominance.”
"What Happened" describes Clinton’s thoughts on what took place before, during and after the election. However, this memoir is more than just an opinion piece. Clinton takes the time to show readers the woman underneath the politician. Rather than censoring herself, she takes the time to analyze individual issues, cover her opinions on what she believes really happened and inspires readers to “keep going” in this new America.
Ryan Miller has studied and reviewed the campaigns and professional careers of President Donald Trump, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. As a result, he has formed opinions how Clinton handled and assessed her own campaign issues and errors in the book "What Happened."