What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton


Hillary Rodham Clinton’s latest book, What Happened, could not have been an easy book to write. To put it mildly…..because what it really is, is a 500 page balancing act. 

To criticize your opponent (even if he is Donald Trump) in such a way that you make sure you don’t come across as a sore loser (despite winning the popular vote), not easy. To temper your need to explain the role of others in your defeat with a willingness to take responsibility for your own mistakes, not easy.

These are pitfalls that Mrs Clinton is acutely aware of and while the reader is left with no doubt as to where she feels the blame should be placed for the fact that she didn’t win and that we now have someone she believes to be a menace to society and the world in The White House, it is obvious that the former Secretary of State, Senator and First Lady has done some soul searching to try to understand how this could have happened

The best parts of the book are perhaps the ones where she describes her own personal experience of running for president of the United States as the female nominee of a major party, - a first in American history. In a race where personality plays such an enormous role, Hillary Clinton has had to struggle with an image of insincerity, that people didn’t ever believe she was being genuine, that they didn’t feel like they really knew her to the point that she was treated as someone incapable of emotion and immune to insult. Her response to this in the book and the descriptions of what it all felt like before, during and after the election are perhaps the most poignant.

Hillary Clinton is also angry, not just on her own behalf, but also on behalf of her supporters, her staff, her party and her country. She is sincerely concerned about the way the election turned out, the key players who she feels orchestrated it, the people who allowed it to happen and, of course, the man who won thanks to an electoral college system she fervently opposes and criticizes. There is plenty of blame to go around, but the bulk of it is placed squarely on the shoulders of FBI Director Comey and the Russian involvement / hacking of the election process. 

What Happened also tries to reconcile her role as someone who is so clearly part of the establishment, someone almost doomed to win right up until the moment she lost, with the role of the outsider, the woman destined against all odds to shatter the ultimate glass ceiling on behalf of women everywhere. She makes it very clear that much of her strength comes from the women she has met throughout her life; the ones who raised her, literally and metaphorically, the ones she studied, learned from, tried to emulate and tried to educate throughout her life. Indeed, some of the most heartfelt, defiant passages of the book relate to women, the women’s movement, the role and struggle of women in politics and public life.

In What Happened Hillary Rodham Clinton tries to explain, understand and move on. Yes, she is angry, yes she is hurt, yes, she is at times biased and yes, taking responsibility and letting go of grudges don’t come easy to her, but after all that has happened and especially given where we are today #imstillwithher

Happy reading!



Hannah Gough