Summary of What Happened

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9 Overall

9 Importance

8 Innovation

9 Style


On November 8, 2016, about 65 million Americans marked their ballots for Hillary Rodham Clinton. She won the popular vote by three million votes, but Donald J. Trump prevailed in the Electoral College. Clinton’s failure wasn’t the only tidal shift: Did America suddenly lurch across the boundary that divides democracy from authoritarianism? In this autobiographical account, Clinton strives to answer this question as well as to explain her electoral defeat. The former first lady, US senator and secretary of state vacillates between shouldering the blame and allocating it to a gallery of scoundrels, “deplorables” and dupes, along with a series of dismaying cultural trends. In her effort to be candid, Clinton sometimes betrays her own self-involvement and entitlement. Some passages verge on embarrassing as she seems to involve readers in her process of grief and sense-making. But given the epochal significance of the election, Americans and posterity should understand “what happened.” Hillary Clinton’s narrative offers her own perspective, which proves indispensable.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why Hillary Clinton ran for president in 2016,
  • What issues dominated her campaign,
  • How cultural factors and Russian interference affected the election, and
  • What Clinton would have done if elected. 

About the Author

Hillary Rodham Clinton is the first woman to become the presidential nominee of a major political party. She served as the 67th secretary of state from January 2009 until February 2013 following nearly four decades in public service as an attorney, first lady and US senator. 



Why Clinton Ran

Democratic Party candidate, former first lady, US senator and secretary of state Hillary Clinton sought the presidency because she believed that she would “be good at the job” and that it would give her a “chance to do the most good I would ever be able to do.” Her upbringing in the Methodist Church inspired her to pursue a life of service.

Comment on this summary

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    Peter Abenissian 6 months ago
    Clinton did not address the real issues of the time. She made less accurate predictions and her team let her down.
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    Arunav Das 6 months ago
    A very well written summary of what appears to be a very well rounded book on Hillary's perspective about the factors impacting the outcome. The question is if everything else remained the same ie all the factors and all the actors, and Hillary had another chance, what would or could she have done differently? Or no matter what Hillary did the outcome would be the same everytime if the circumstances remained the same?


More on this topic

By the same author

  • Hard Choices

    Hillary Rodham Clinton

    Wall Street Journal Books, 2014


  • Living History

    Hillary Rodham Clinton

    Simon & Schuster, 2003


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