What Happened is her third memoir, and with it she defies the conventional wisdom that would suggest waiting at least a few years after important events to reflect upon them, with an eye toward gaining the perspective that distance is said to bring. Clinton’s choice to write this book now, however, seems fitting because nearly everything about the election of 2016 was unconventional ... Historians can benefit from Clinton’s near-contemporaneous consideration of each of these issues. They will likely find her quick first draft engaging (when she does not lapse into campaign-speak), witty, and useful, even as they take note of her natural self-interest in writing about these matters.
The final quarter of What Happened reads like a spy novel. It spells out Clinton’s version of Russia’s involvement in our election and her staff’s attempts to get the media to turn away from her emails long enough to give it some attention ... 'On Being a Woman in Politics' is a fascinating chapter examining the tightrope Clinton has walked during her life in public service ... The folks who are rolling their eyes, hard, at the notion of Hillary Clinton doing all the good she can, for all the people she can, will likely not read What Happened. That’s a shame. It’s a first-person, front-row account of arguably one of the most pivotal elections in American history. But plenty of others will. And I would urge the pundits and the platform-holders to think twice before adding another voice to the 'Go away, Hillary' choir.
What Happened is not one book, but many. It is a candid and blackly funny account of her mood in the direct aftermath of losing to Donald J. Trump. It is a post-mortem, in which she is both coroner and corpse. It is a feminist manifesto. It is a score-settling jubilee. It is a rant against James B. Comey, Bernie Sanders, the media, James B. Comey, Vladimir Putin and James B. Comey. It is a primer on Russian spying. It is a thumping of Trump. It is worth reading ... Are there moments when What Happened is wearying, canned and disingenuous, spinning events like a top? Yes. Does it offer any new hypotheses about what doomed Clinton’s campaign? No. It merely synthesizes old ones; Clinton’s diagnostics are the least interesting part of the book. Is there a full chapter devoted to her email, clearly intended to make her own closing arguments in this case? Yes. She can’t shake her inner litigator. But this book is not just a perseverative recap of 2016. It is the story of what it was like to run for president of the United States as the female nominee of a major party, a first in American history ... You may have heard that What Happened is angry. It’s true. Or defiant, anyway. Love it or loathe it, chafe at it or cheer it; you will now see, for the first time, what it looks like when Clinton doesn’t spend all of her energy suppressing her irritation.