How to review a book by one of the most polarizing politicians of recent memory describing an election campaign and aftermath that still elicit strong feelings from large swathes of the electorate? If you think Hillary Clinton is the devil incarnate, I’d be very surprised that you’d even consider reading this book, and then I’d commend you for trying, and hope that maybe What Happened will help you see that she’s a real person, flaws and all. If you’re on the fence about her for whatever reason, then I hope that this book gives you a deeper understanding of why millions of people love her, and perhaps draws you in that direction, as well.
Because I’m one of those people. I still have a Hillary poster in my (admittedly obscured) front window: it’s a bit sour grapes to flaunt it, I feel, but you can see it if you’re looking for it, and know that you have an ally in this house. When Hillary lost the election, I spent a good portion of the next day crying, not only for what it meant for me as a brown Muslim immigrant woman but because I know what it’s liked to be kicked in the teeth by people you’re not only trying to help but are the person best qualified to help. What Happened is Hillary’s examination of the factors that led up to her loss, including a lot more self-reflection than most people would have the courage to perform. It’s a warm, humorous, honest look at what she did wrong and what she and others could have done better to prevent this disaster that is 45’s administration (and if you don’t think 45’s administration is a disaster, then I am very sorry for you because you are in for a very rude awakening once the reach of his authoritarian kleptocracy snakes its way into your life and wallet. Or you’re a neo-Nazi and you can go fuck yourself forever.)
But more than that, it’s a clarion call to action, for those of us who grieved to become more active in politics and in our communities. It’s a warning against the insidious influence of Putin’s Russia in our political culture. And it’s a tender affirmation of her belief in the power and goodness of our civil society.
I cried a couple of times reading this book. And ordinarily I refer to most authors as Ms LastName but after reading What Happened, I sincerely hope she doesn’t mind me calling her Hillary, because she feels like family. What Happened is a terrific book that likely won’t win over any haters, but is a necessary document of our times that will hopefully help point the way to a better future, if we’ll only heed its warnings. I’m #StillWithHer. I hope you’ll read this book and feel the same way, too.