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What Happened,
by Hillary Rodham Clinton (Simon & Schuster, 494 pages)

12/14/17



 No one is completely sure what happened during the 2016 presidential election. All we know is that something happened. Something very definitely happened. 

There are currently and will be many more accounts of what happened. Over the next years, we’ll be reading campaign analysis from the left and from the right. We’ll also be hearing more from the main players in the campaigns. 
What Happened is Hillary Clinton’s side of the story. 
Clinton was the presumptive winner in the most bizarre election the United States has ever seen. That gives her a seat at the table, and let’s just say that Hillary’s dinner conversation does not disappoint. 
If you’ve read any of Clinton’s previous books you know that she uses a careful voice of authority. She presents her case and does not to use her personal voice when expressing opinions. 
This is not the case in What Happened. For the first time, Clinton lowers the shield and she tells us what being a candidate against Trump was really like. 
Her honesty is refreshing. This is not an account of “What Happened?” It’s not a question. The title is a declarative statement. This is what happened — to Hillary. 
We read what she felt like when she was constantly attacked by the right. 
We read about what it felt like to have Trump stalk her from behind during a debate. 
We read an entire chapter on Russian interference. 
And we realize that there were a lot of forces in play during the last presidential election. Many beyond anyone’s control. 
We realize that Clinton is one heck of a strong woman. We get a peek into the woman behind it all, how difficult it was to endure all the attacks and how painful it was to attend Trump’s inauguration. Not because she should have won, but because she suspected that it wasn’t a fair campaign and because she knew that Trump was unfit for the presidency. 
 “I hope that by the time you read this, Republicans will have failed to repeal Obamacare, but that’s far from certain. Trump’s health care plan would have devastating consequences in poor and rural areas, especially for older people and families who rely on Medicaid. And at a time when opiate addiction is ravaging communities across rural America, Trump and Republicans in Congress proposed scrapping the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that insurers cover mental health services and addiction treatment. It alarms me to think about what this would mean for the recovering addicts, family members, doctors, counselors, and police officers I met in West Virginia and across the country who were all struggling to deal with the consequences of this epidemic.” 
Clinton demonstrates her depth of knowledge on health care, foreign diplomacy, and economic and domestic issues. It’s in stark contrast to the Trump administration’s sheer lack of knowledge and experience. Reading about Clinton’s grasp of issues reminds us that What Happened could have been titled What Could Have Happened. 
Haters are going to say that this book is a book of excuses and that it points the finger at everyone and everything except Clinton as the reason for her losing the election. But when the final results show that Clinton won the popular vote by over 3 million votes those objections tend to fall a little flat. 
Although Clinton’s campaign tried to bring up issues, they were drowned out by the newest “reality TV” candidate outrage. 
When the Clinton campaign tried to raise concerns about Russia, they were told that they were being paranoid and vindictive. I’m not sure any candidate could have overcome those attacks. 
What Happened is a fascinating first-hand account of what went on behind the scenes of the last presidential election. It’s important to remember that while it is a piece of the puzzle in trying to figure out what happened during the campaign, it is, after all, only one woman’s — one candidate’s — view. Having said that, though, it’s an immensely important piece of our history that needs to be heard. A 
— Wendy E.N. Thomas 





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