What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton?

The book serves as an intimate exploration of the historic 2016 presidential race, offering readers a detailed look into both the public milestones and private hurdles of her campaign. Clinton’s narrative intertwines political analysis with personal anecdotes, providing a unique perspective on what it took to run as the first female candidate for a major party in the highly charged political landscape of the time.

The Election and Its Aftermath

The 2016 election was one of the most controversial and divisive elections in American history. As the first female presidential nominee, Clinton faced intense scrutiny and criticism throughout her campaign. From questioning her use of a private email server while serving as Secretary of State to her involvement in the Benghazi attack, Clinton was the subject of numerous political controversies. These controversies often overshadowed her policy proposals and became a focal point for her opponents.

Clinton’s campaign also made significant strides in terms of policy proposals and public engagement. She put forward detailed plans for addressing income inequality, healthcare reform, and climate change, emphasizing the need for comprehensive solutions to these complex issues. Despite these efforts, the relentless news cycle and the emergence of fake news stories on social media platforms added to the challenges faced by her campaign.

However, as election day approached, Clinton faced a barrage of attacks from her opponent, Donald Trump, and his supporters. She also faced backlash from the media, which often portrayed her in a negative light. Trump’s unconventional campaign tactics, combined with a fervent populist movement, created an unpredictable and hostile electoral environment for Clinton.

On election night, after a long and grueling campaign, Clinton’s hopes of becoming the first female president were shattered as the results came in. Trump had won the electoral college and secured the presidency. In her book, Clinton describes the shock and disappointment she felt as she watched her dream slip away. She provides a candid look at the emotional toll the night took on her and her team, as well as the broader implications of the defeat for her supporters and the country as a whole.

Personal Reflections and Insights

“What Happened” is not just a recount of the 2016 election, but also a deeply personal and introspective look into Clinton’s life and career. She shares memories from her childhood and early political career, as well as the challenges she faced as a female politician in a male-dominated field. Clinton offers readers a glimpse into the moments that shaped her, from her mother’s resilience to her own experiences as a student activist.

Clinton delves into the personal struggles that came with public life, including the balancing act of motherhood and her professional aspirations. She reflects on her marriage to former President Bill Clinton and the impact of his political scandals on her own career. She opens up about the pain and betrayal she felt when her husband’s affair with Monica Lewinsky was exposed and how she chose to stand by him and their marriage.

Throughout the book, Clinton acknowledges her own mistakes and shortcomings, such as her use of a private email server and her struggle to connect with voters. She also addresses the criticisms and attacks she faced, both during the election and throughout her career. By doing so, she hopes to offer lessons to others who might follow in her footsteps, and to pave a smoother path for the next generation of female leaders.

The Role of Sexism in the Election

One of the most significant themes in “What Happened” is the role of sexism in the election and in society as a whole. Clinton describes the misogyny and double standards she faced throughout her campaign, from being criticized for her appearance to being called “unlikeable” and “untrustworthy”. She reflects on how these gendered attacks affected not only her campaign but also the perception of women in leadership roles more broadly.

She also discusses the impact of sexism on women in politics and how it often discourages women from running for office. Clinton shares her hope that her candidacy will inspire more women to enter the political arena and break down the barriers that women face in leadership roles. She emphasizes the importance of female representation in politics and the positive change it can bring to government and society.

Clinton speaks candidly about the subtle and overt sexism she encountered, from the expectations placed on her attire and demeanor to the disproportionate scrutiny she received compared to her male counterparts. She argues that these experiences are not unique to her, but rather are indicative of a broader cultural issue that requires ongoing attention and action.

The Aftermath and Moving Forward

In the aftermath of the election, Clinton faced immense pressure to accept the results and move on. However, she chose to take time to reflect and process her emotions before publicly addressing the outcome. In “What Happened”, she shares her thoughts and feelings during this time and her decision to attend Trump’s inauguration as a symbol of the peaceful transfer of power in American democracy.

Clinton also addresses the ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the election and the possibility that it may have influenced the outcome. She expresses her concern for the state of American democracy and the need for continued vigilance against foreign interference in future elections. The revelations of foreign meddling have raised significant questions about electoral integrity and the safeguarding of democratic institutions.

Moreover, Clinton discusses the polarization that has taken root in American politics and the challenges this presents for governance and social cohesion. She urges readers to consider the long-term implications of the 2016 election on the political landscape and the importance of restoring civility and cooperation in political discourse.

Lessons Learned and the Road Ahead

Despite the disappointment of the 2016 election, Clinton remains hopeful and dedicated to promoting the causes she believes in. She shares her thoughts on the state of American politics and the need for bipartisanship and compromise in order to move forward as a nation. She offers insights into how the country can heal from the divisiveness of the campaign and work towards a more inclusive and equitable society.

Clinton also reflects on the progress that has been made in terms of women’s rights and the need for continued advocacy and activism. She encourages readers to stay engaged in the political process and to never give up on fighting for a better future. Her message is one of resilience and empowerment, urging individuals to participate actively in shaping the direction of their country.

In looking forward, Clinton discusses the importance of nurturing the next generation of leaders and the role of mentorship in fostering young political talent. She emphasizes the value of learning from setbacks and using them as a springboard for future successes.


“What Happened” is a powerful and personal account of one of the most significant events in recent American history. Through her reflections and insights, Clinton sheds light on the challenges and obstacles faced by women in politics and the need for continued progress and change. While the outcome of the 2016 election may not have been what she hoped for, Clinton’s determination and resilience serve as an inspiration for future generations. As she states in the book, “I will never stop believing in our country and its future.” Clinton’s narrative not only documents a historic moment but also serves as a call to action for those committed to shaping a more just and representative democracy.

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