Hillary Clinton Books – What Happened?

Hillary Rodham Clinton reissues her bestselling 1996 children’s book It Takes a Village in an illustrated edition for adults.

The novel features a novice secretary of state who must work with a new president after a tumultuous period in American politics. A shrewd insider’s account. A must-read. (New York Times). YA & NF.

What Happened?

When Hillary Clinton announced that she would write a memoir, many assumed it would be one of her usual careful, tedious autobiographies. Instead, she has given us What Happened, an autopsy of her lost campaign.

Unlike her previous books, which aimed to sell readers a wise and relatable candidate while playing down controversies, this memoir is gossipy, meaner, and more entertaining than anything she or her speechwriters have written before.

While it is at times a chatty campaign memento, a policy primer, or a timeline of her email controversy, it is also an eagle-eyed analysis of where she went wrong during the race. At its best, it is a mea culpa that takes into account the fact that a racist and misogynistic culture helped propel Donald Trump to victory. At its worst, it is a tedious snoozer that misses the point. If she is trying to help Democrats plan for the future, her book fails.

What I Learned

In the book, Clinton reveals she and President Obama kept in touch post-administration, even meeting a few times for lunch—including a summer of jambalaya with Ryan Zinke, now Trump’s interior secretary. She also rebuts the myth that Obama and she weren’t close, calling him “a man who never took his reelection for granted” and saying they always focused on what was best for America.

She holds nothing back in her recount of the 2016 election, from what she thought was going through Trump’s mind as he chanted for her to be locked up to how she felt on election night. But what’s more interesting is how she examines her own campaign.

At times, What Happened is a chatty campaign memento (a whole chapter goes into banal details about Team Clinton’s diet) and at others, it’s a full-on political autopsy. But in its frankness, it’s a fascinating read. A must-read. (Simon & Schuster, 2018)

The Hard Work Is Never Done

For years, women in middle school were left without the likes of Judy Blume to guide them through the bewildering changes of puberty. With this earnest compendium, Hillary tries to make up for it by encouraging tweens and teens to engage with the world around them.

She writes about the global challenges facing the future generation, including poverty and climate change. She also encourages tweens and teens to get involved in politics and activism.

The chapters that focus on her time as secretary of state are particularly lauded. She discusses the search for Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, as well as her insistence that progress on women’s rights in Afghanistan must not be undermined moving forward. She also discusses her differences with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the nuclear issue, and she defends her decision to be vocal on this subject. She even talks about her affinity for a certain type of murder mystery.

A Woman of Substance

A mammoth paperback book, this is an extraordinarily well-researched account of Hillary’s life and political career up to her time in the senate. Bernstein has poured over all the available records and interviewed many of her friends, adversaries, and co-workers. It’s a pretty objective (though clearly left-leaning) look at the first woman of the post-war baby boom generation to make it to the White House.

As he writes, Bernstein reveals that even before she married Bill, her cohorts saw her as more likely to succeed on a national level than him. They were probably right, although she passed up a number of personal opportunities that she might have seized had she been less attached to him.

The last part of the book focuses on her time in the Senate, and it’s here that I started to lose interest. I think he overplayed her vulnerabilities and the extent to which she had to bend and compromise during her term in office.

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