Who Is ‘What Happened’ For? Maybe Hillary Clinton Most Of All

Hillary Rodham Clinton visits the Glazier Arboretum Park where she often likes to hike in Chappaqua, N.Y.
Adrienne Grunwald for NPR
Months after the world watched her endure a brutal humiliation, Hillary Clinton walks into her study. She sits down at her computer, sighs, pinches the bridge of her nose.

“OK, everyone. Shut the hell up and listen,” she mutters.

And then she types feverishly for weeks … or however long it takes to pound out 469 pages.

What Happened
What Happened
by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hardcover, 494 pages purchase

It’s easy to imagine this being how Clinton wrote What Happened, her account of running for, and eventually losing, the presidency to Donald Trump. There’s a sense in this book that, after two years of stoic composure, Clinton simply needed to get it all out.

It must be a relief, given the number of times that Clinton writes about holding her tongue. When Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, tweets on Inauguration Day that he’s “so pleased she is not President,” she holds back a barb about how she didn’t even know who he was (“To be honest, thought you were Reince.”).

When an older woman demands that her adult daughter apologize to Clinton for not voting, Clinton swallows her bile:

“I wanted to stare right in her eyes and say, ‘You didn’t vote? How could you not vote?! You abdicated your responsibility as a citizen at the worst possible time! And now you want me to make you feel better?’ Of course, I didn’t say any of that. These people were looking for absolution that I just couldn’t give. We all have to live with the consequences of our decisions.”

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