Opinions on Hillary Clinton’s Memoir, What Happened

One Student Perspective


photo taken from slate

Annie Austin, Junior Writer

Hillary Clinton wrote a book, What Happened, and seemingly everyone has an opinion on it. It’s been decried by opposition and cherished by supporters(with the sales to prove it). Clinton has a story to tell, and people want to hear it. It is certainly different from her previous memoirs- Clinton doesn’t hold back. Clinton is not afraid to offer her take on an election that broke all the rules, giving a front row seat to life on the campaign trail. She does not shy away from the outside forces she believes impacted the election(namely Russia, James Comey, and critics on the left).
Clinton dedicates several pages to Bernie Sanders’ campaign and policy. But she is also willing to admit her missteps, especially her campaign’s reliance on big data. Policy and the experiences that shaped her 2016 platform are a main focus. Although it didn’t get much media attention (Media Matters found only 4% of media coverage regarded policy), policy was the driving internal factor of Clinton’s campaign.
However, the most compelling story within the novel is Clinton’s personal experience. In all the polarization, it is easy to forget the positives: Clinton was the first woman to be a major political party’s nominee for President and to win the popular vote. Clinton writes that she wished America was a country where her story, “a life shaped by and devoted to the movement for women’s liberation,” would be celebrated, not denigrated. She describes the life stories of her husband and former President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama, while noting her life story seems to be nothing more than a girl finding her way.
Clinton is quite frank that sexism played a role in the election. The most frequently used word to describe Clinton is flawed. Aren’t we all? But even though her main contenders made just as many, or even more, missteps than Clinton, they were never labeled as “deeply flawed.” Clinton also puts negative experiences aside, writing about the most uplifting moments of her campaign.
Clinton describes the speech she gave after winning the Democratic
nomination as “a surge of pride, gratitude, and pure happiness.” However, despitethe fact that the speech is an important piece of history, many question if this book is necessary. Clinton’s career makes her one of the most accomplished women in history and future generations later on, people will want to know her story. At the of the memoir, after pain and defeat, I was left wondering if Clinton regretted running.
The answer can be found in the Valedictory address given at her alma mater, Wellesly College. The question listening to her alma matter’s valedictorian speak. The Valedictorian ended saying, “Go […] into the world […] to break every glass ceiling that remains.” Clinton was “the loudest cheerer,” and writes “If this was the future, then everything had been worth it.”
What Happened is certainly worth the read. It is an inside look at a presidential campaign, Clinton’s vendetta, a feminist manifesto, a glimpse into the personal lives of Bill and Hillary, and visions for America’s path forward in under 500 pages. I think history will let Clinton, and her novel, age well