What Happened:

In this admirably candid account of the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton reveals what it was like to be mugged by a belligerent billionaire. Having been supremely confident of victory, Clinton's defeat to Donald Trump came as a numbing shock. For weeks afterwards, she did little other than drink Chardonnay, take long walks in the woods and practice a yoga technique called alternative nostril breathing. Yet Clinton has put her dismay to good use. What Happened is a pleasingly vengeful and often darkly funny analysis of how a sexist crank thwarted her dream of becoming America's first female president. Aware that such a book could turn into a recitation of the failings of others, Clinton is admirably frank in her assessment of her own shortcomings: she wasn't, she admits, a sufficiently transformative candidate, and she failed to offer what a lot of the country wanted to hear.

At times the book is a little muddled and self-contradictory book. It see-saws jerkily between sweet and sour, calm and fury. While keen to make a show of contrition, Clinton much prefers blaming others. Her targets are - Bernie Sanders, Julian Assange and the media all get lambasted, and even Barack Obama is criticised for not drawing more attention to Russian interference in the election. This is a classic tale of hubris. Clinton had arranged every detail of her march to the White House, from the stage designed to look like a map of America, on which she would declare victory, to the purple suit she would wear to her first trip to Washington as president-elect.

All in all its a compelling read as Clinton finally gives vent to her feelings: the guilt she feels as letting an unqualified bully become president of the United States; her fury at the media's harsh scrutiny of women in the public eye. Had she revealed more of the spark and biting sarcasm that she shows here, her lackluster campaign would have been very different.

My highlights:

Trump’s inauguration was far from uniting and uplifting, unlike the Women’s March..

After Trump gave a bizarre and bleak inauguration speech that included the words “American carnage," George W. Bush had the perfect reaction: “That was some weird shit."Of course, Clinton’s speech would have been nothing like Trump’s. She sees the tradition of a presidential inauguration as a chance to uplift and unite the people. When she envisions the United States, the disturbing words “American carnage" don’t come to mind.Instead, she sees the kind of people who went out the following day to take part in the Women’s March that eclipsed Trump’s inauguration.
5 October, 2017 19:51 Share

Election night led to a period of recuperation and trying to resist becoming cynical.

Having to call Trump to congratulate him on his win was tough, but perhaps even tougher was calling President Barack Obama to apologize for letting him down. Clinton’s throat tightened as she passed on those words, but Obama was gracious as always. He told her that she had nothing to feel bad about, and that life after the election would go on.The key to coping with defeat, Clinton learned, is not to turn cynical. It’s also important not to isolate yourself and let friends provide some comfort and reassurance.
5 October, 2017 19:51 Share

Clinton had a good, unselfish reason for launching her campaign.

Clinton didn’t have any self-serving or power-hungry ambitions for the presidency, and she certainly never felt it was inevitable she would attain it.No, the real reason Clinton wanted to be president was because she honestly felt she would be good at the job.It’s true that she didn’t do the best job of being upfront about her qualifications, but Clinton has never been great at boasting about herself. She prefers to talk about her policies and strategies for improving the government.
5 October, 2017 19:52 Share
the conversation was always being redirected elsewhere by people who wanted to cast her as a criminal evil-doer.
5 October, 2017 19:52 Share

It’s not easy being a woman in politics, but there are some rewards.

Clinton never wanted to make her gender the focus of her campaign. She’s well aware that her story of being a woman who has managed to be successful in a male-dominated profession doesn’t sit well with everyone.Whether people like it or not, politics is rife with sexism and misogyny.You need only look at the fact that millions of people voted for someone who bragged about sexually assaulting women as evidence of how ingrained these characteristics are in American society.
5 October, 2017 19:56 Share

One of Clinton’s biggest motivations was to take on the gun lobby.

Clinton is familiar with the power of the NRA: they helped defeat Al Gore in the 2000 election, and more recently, they managed to take down a bill aimed at making people on the federal no-fly list ineligible to buy guns. Yes, that’s right, people who aren’t allowed to board a plane should still be eligible for a handgun as far as the NRA is concerned. And they got their way because politicians are too scared to oppose this powerful lobby.
6 October, 2017 15:53 Share
Donald Trump made it clear he was courting the gun lobby from the start. After the mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub, he thought it was a shame everyone in the club wasn’t armed.
6 October, 2017 15:53 Share

Through her experiences in 2016, Clinton has learned the importance of lofty goals.

One of the differences between Clinton and Bernie Sanders was how they dealt with the details of their policies.
6 October, 2017 16:09 Share
the difference between idealism and realism. Clinton always felt it was of great importance to have realistic plans that could be enacted tomorrow, even if they aren’t as exciting as free college.
6 October, 2017 16:09 Share
since the election, Clinton has come to see the benefit of having big, exciting goals that may need more work before they can be fully realized.
6 October, 2017 16:12 Share

Clinton was determined to help those who didn’t vote for her, especially in Michigan and West Virginia.

Another regret that Clinton has from her 2016 campaign was saying the words, “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business." Sounds pretty harsh, right? And the press, especially Fox News, repeated those words on an endless loop.While Clinton regrets putting those words in that exact order, the quote has been taken out of context and twisted to imply the exact opposite of the message she was giving.
6 October, 2017 16:14 Share

Clinton had great difficulty getting her message heard over the obsession with her emails.

Choosing to use her private email account during her time as Secretary of State is at the top of Clinton’s list of regrets.But here’s the thing: since email use began, every Secretary of State has used a private email account. General Colin Powell, the secretary under George W. Bush, used an AOL account while he was on the job!Nevertheless, the conversation remained stuck on the subject of Clinton’s emails for the duration of the entire campaign.
6 October, 2017 16:20 Share
nightly television news spent three times as many minutes talking about her emails than about the policies in her campaign platform.
6 October, 2017 16:20 Share
Part of the scandal was that her email account was directed to a server in her Chappaqua, New York home, which was set up by Bill Clinton and protected by members of the secret service. The irony here is that while Pentagon, White House and State Department servers have all been hacked, the server at her home has been inspected and found to be uncompromised.
6 October, 2017 16:20 Share

Having to compete with Trump was difficult enough, but dealing with Russian influence was worse.

According to the independent fact-checkers PolitiFact, Trump was the most dishonest candidate the site had ever measured. All the while, Clinton was rated the most honest in 2016 – even more so than Bernie Sanders.Before Trump, candidates didn’t show up to debates unprepared and tell blatant lies, so there was no playbook for how to deal with someone like him.
6 October, 2017 16:36 Share
Ask yourself, what would you do if a man who bragged about groping women proceeded to creep around behind you and breathe down your neck as you were answering questions on a televised debate?This was indeed unprecedented territory, and that feeling became more extreme when news broke that Russian hackers were attempting to influence the election.Never before has a foreign power so directly interfered with a US election.
6 October, 2017 16:36 Share
Twitter and Facebook were flooded with fake accounts posting anti-Clinton messages, and at least 21 states had their election systems targeted by hackers.
6 October, 2017 16:36 Share

The most damaging blow to the campaign was the unprecedented influence of the FBI director.

The CIA and FBI were well aware of a potential Russian cyberattack by at least August 2016, three months before the election.However, while the CIA sounded the alarms, the FBI dragged their feet. In fact, it wasn’t until after the election that the FBI admitted that Russia had helped Trump.When asked about his reluctance to take action, FBI director James Comey said he didn’t want to unduly influence the election, which is astonishing since that’s exactly what he ended up doing.
6 October, 2017 17:06 Share
Deputy Attorney General of the Justice Department, Rod Rosenstein, issued a letter condemning Comey’s behavior, calling it “profoundly wrong and unfair." And there’s no avoiding the fact that it had a critically damaging effect.
6 October, 2017 17:06 Share

The 2016 election left much to consider and investigate, but US citizens need to move forward and stay involved

people from the Trump team met with Russians and contacted them through text, email and phone calls. Many meetings were made through the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.Roger Stone, Trump’s campaign advisor, has admitted to being in contact with the Russian hacker who goes by the name of Guccifer 2.0. And we know that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner met with Sergey Gorkov, the head of the Kremlin bank associated with Russian intelligence agencies. We also have correspondence from Kushner recommending the use of Russian diplomatic channels as a way of avoiding detection.
6 October, 2017 17:07 Share
Hopefully, everything will be made clear in time, and we’ll be able to make sure this kind of attack never happens again.In the meantime, it’s more important than ever to go forth and use whatever frustrations or anger you have to positive ends. This means getting involved in politics and making a difference.
6 October, 2017 17:07 Share

Final summary

Hillary Clinton’s loss in the 2016 election came as a shock to many. Some of the answers as to what happened are still being determined, but from Clinton’s perspective, many unprecedented events contributed to her loss. These include an out-of-control FBI director, coordinated Russian hackers and a few mistakes of her own that Clinton deeply regrets.
6 October, 2017 17:08 Share

About the book:

What Happened (2017) is the story of the woman at the center of one of the craziest elections the United States has ever seen: the 2016 presidential election. This is Hillary Rodham Clinton’s account of her experience facing, and eventually losing to, Donald Trump – an opponent like no other – and the road that led her to this historic election.

About the author:

Hillary Rodham Clinton has had a remarkable career in public service. She became the first First Lady still in the White House to be elected to a public office when she was voted New York’s first female senator in 2001. She went on to become the first woman to win the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Clinton’s other books include It Takes a Village and her two previous memoirs, Living History and Hard Choices.
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