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What Happened Hardcover – September 12, 2017
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The Amazon Book Review
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“What Happened is not one book, but many. It is a candid and blackly funny account of her mood in the direct aftermath of losing to Donald J. Trump. It is a post-mortem, in which she is both coroner and corpse. It is a feminist manifesto. It is a score-settling jubilee…. It is worth reading.”
—The New York Times
“What Happened is a raw and bracing book, a guide to our political arena.”
—The Washington Post
“The writing in What Happened is engaging — Clinton is charming and even funny at times, without trying to paint herself in too flattering of a light…. Ultimately, the book might be a historical artifact most of all — the chronicling of what, exactly, it was like to run for president as the first woman major-party candidate (and, yes, a Clinton as well). Plenty may disagree with Clinton’s opinions on what went wrong for her, but her story will still be an important part of that history when America looks back on the melee that was the 2016 election.”
“An engaging, beautifully synthesized page-turner.”
“Here is Clinton at her most emotionally raw.... While What Happened records the perspective of a pioneer who beat an unprecedented path that stopped just shy of the White House, it also covers territory that many women will recognize.... She demonstrates that she can mine her situation for humor.”
“What Happened is not a standard work of this genre. It’s interesting; it’s worth reading; and it sets out questions that the press, in particular, has not done enough to face.”
“Engaging... witty, and useful.”
—The New York Review of Books
“A disturbing autopsy on the state of America today. What Happened is an urgent plea directed not only to those concerned about America’s capacity to survive, but also to all who are anxious about protecting America’s international contributions to human health.”
“This is an important book, and anyone who’s worried by what happened last November 8 should pick it up.”
“Contains... insights into Ms. Clinton’s personality, character, and values, and the challenges confronting women in politics.”
About the Author
Hillary Rodham Clinton is the first woman in US history to become the presidential nominee of a major political party. She served as the 67th Secretary of State—from January 21, 2009, until February 1, 2013—after nearly four decades in public service advocating on behalf of children and families as an attorney, First Lady, and Senator. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother.
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A good 75% of the book has nothing to do with "what happened." Most of the book is HRC telling about her political career, her wonderful family, her mother, her wonderful life with Bill, how much she cares about people, especially children, her wonderful, hard-working staff, etc. This is fine but it's a lot to wade through to get to the meat of the book, and once you get to the meat, it's a pretty cheap cut.
HRC lays out a good case against FBI Director James Comey and against Russian "fake news" items that saturated social media and against the media for fixating on the non-scandal of her emails while ignoring her policies and plans for America. I came away from the book with a finer understanding of how these forces worked against her. She also has choice words for her opponent in the primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders, whom she believes "gave ammunition" to Trump. She was less convincing on this front as virtually nothing Sanders said against HRC during the primary battle was new; his criticisms of HRC were general talking points before Sanders ever entered the contest.
The book whitewashes the DNC's actions against Sanders during the primary, actions that turned a good number of Sanders supporters (HRC continues use of the odious "Bernie Bros." epithet) against her. She blames Russian leaks of DNC emails for Debra Wasserman Shultz's departure but makes no mention of what was IN those emails that was so incriminating. HRC praises the hard work of Donna Brazile but fails to mention how Brazile was caught stealing debate questions (for the debate with Sanders) from CNN and then leaking those questions to HRC and not to Sanders.
HRC skims over her failure to deliver a simple, inspirational vision for America as Trump did for his supporters and as Sanders did for his. She talks of her many policies and issue statements and acknowledges that such things aren't as catchy for voters as Trump's and Sanders' rhetoric. This statement is literally one sentence long, and yet it reveals the main reason her campaign failed: She does not know how to inspire people to vote for her. She's proud of her campaign slogan, "Stronger Together," without recognizing how flat it falls compared with Trump's "Make America Great Again." She talks of a program she and Bill worked out to share investment income with all Americans, the way Alaska shares oil revenue with its citizens, and calls it "Alaska for Americans." My god, what a horrible name! But she doesn't see it. She's tone deaf when it comes to language.
She's also blind to the issue of optics. She acknowledges that her highly-paid and secretive speeches to Wall Street firms "looked bad," but she far underestimates just how negatively those speeches affected her image. She speaks in the book proudly of the designers she has designing her clothing, but seems oblivious to the way those very same clothes impact the unemployed formerly-working class people she admits to wooing unsuccessfully.
There is no doubt but that big forces worked against Hillary Clinton's candidacy, but major forces opposed Trump, also. What is telling in HRC's memoir and analysis are her own blind spots, her weakness as a campaigner who fails to inspire, her over-reliance on her status as "first female Presidential nominee from a major party" (53% of white women voted for Trump, but HRC doesn't examine why), and her refusal to acknowledge how the DNC, during the primary, alienated the progressive voters she would later need to win the general election. (Even here, though, we have figures now indicating that 12% of Sanders supporters went over to Trump, whereas in 2008, after HRC lost the primary to Obama, 24% of her supporters went over to McCain. In other words, Sanders supporters were still more supportive of HRC than HRC's supporters were of Obama by 2-to-1.)
So around and around we go. Some reviews state that HRC blames everyone but herself for her loss. I think this statement is a bit strong, but certainly she turns her back, at least in this book, to enough of her own failings and those of the DNC to earn the criticism.
So there is my review of "What Happened," as a Democrat, as someone who voted for Hillary Clinton, as someone who bought the book from Amazon and read every word.
1) It was MY turn
2) The campaign was absolutely impeccable..without any flaws whatsoever
3) It was everyone else's fault
But I wouldn't have encouraged her to publish it.
A good editor would have gone a long way on this project; either cutting it by 2/3rds of trite, yawn inducing drivel, or by passing on the book altogether.