By Simran Gupta
On Sept. 12, the former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton released her memoir-cum-collection of essays titled “What Happened.”
The book chronicles her experience during the 2016 Presidential Race. According to Amazon’s summary, this is her “most personal memoir yet.” She discusses the sexism she faced as the first woman nominated for a major political party in the United States, the racial and gender-based rage that influenced discussions on her capacit
y to lead, and of course, facing off against Trump.
In the week since its release, Clinton’s book has caused a stir among readers and the politically savvy public. On the one hand, many have found the book both cathartic and vindicating. Those who were against Trump since he first announced his intent to run have connected to the book immensely. However, it has also sparked backlash, as has her now-commenced book tour.
“By the depressing standard of most political books, this one isn’t cautious… it’s not (very) pious (because she favors an acid-humor tone), and most of it is not boring (because most of it is not directly about policy),” writes James Fallows in an article for “The Atlantic.”
Freed from the constraints that tend to go along with being a public, political figure, Clinton seems to have freedom to be frank in ways she may not have before. She includes her internal monologue and snippets of conversations she had with her staff members, President Barack Obama, and various former presidents during several pivotal and devastating moments.
The book also analyzes and explores what the outcome could have been without former FBI Director James Comey, or with a different response to Trump and his supporters during debates.
According to “Time,” the book’s sales have broken records. As of Sept. 20, it had sold more than 300,000 copies. Within a week of release, it has gone back to press three times, and there are more than 800,000 copies of “What Happened” in print.
On the other hand, negative attention abounds. CNN reported that White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders referred to the book as a “sad way for [Clinton] to continue attacking Trump.” She also accused Clinton of “running one of the most negative campaigns in history.” Additionally, “The Guardian” and “USA Today” both report that Amazon has had to delete hundreds of one-star book reviews for her book.
Approximately 24 hours after the book’s release, 1,500-odd reviews that were either scathing one stars or glowing five stars streamed in. Out of this number, only 338 were from users with verified purchases of the book, according to stats from “The Guardian” and “Quartz.”
In a statement to the “Associated Press,” the book’s publisher Jonathan Karp said, it is “highly unlikely that approximately 1,500 people read Hillary Clinton’s book overnight and came to the stark conclusion that it is either brilliant or awful.”
It’s only the beginning for this new phase in Hillary Clinton’s life. Since the release of the book, she has given several interviews and seems to have broken her silence on all things 2016-related.
Clearly, whether citizens want to hear more or want her gone, Clinton has carved out a new niche for herself in public discourse.