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Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose

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The Instant #1 New York Times Bestseller

From President-Elect Joe Biden, Promise Me Dad is his deeply moving memoir about the year that would forever change both a family and a country.

“Biden splices a heartbreaking story with an election story and a foreign affairs story. And in so doing, he offers something for everyone, no matter which strand draws you in.”—The New York Times Book Review

In November 2014, thirteen members of the Biden family gathered on Nantucket for Thanksgiving, a tradition they had been celebrating for the past forty years; it was the one constant in what had become a hectic, scrutinized, and overscheduled life. The Thanksgiving holiday was a much-needed respite, a time to connect, a time to reflect on what the year had brought, and what the future might hold. But this year felt different from all those that had come before. Joe and Jill Biden’s eldest son, Beau, had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor fifteen months earlier, and his survival was uncertain. “Promise me, Dad,” Beau had told his father. “Give me your word that no matter what happens, you’re going to be all right.” Joe Biden gave him his word.

Promise Me Dad chronicles the year that followed, which would be the most momentous and challenging in Joe Biden’s extraordinary life and career. As vice president, Biden traveled more than a hundred thousand miles that year, across the world, dealing with crises in Ukraine, Central America, and Iraq. When a call came from New York, or Capitol Hill, or Kyiv, or Baghdad—“Joe, I need your help”—he responded. For twelve months, while Beau fought for and then lost his life, the vice president balanced the twin imperatives of living up to his responsibilities to his country and his responsibilities to his family. And never far away was the insistent and urgent question of whether he should seek the presidency in 2016.

The year brought real triumph and accomplishment, and wrenching pain. But even in the worst times, Biden was able to lean on the strength of his long, deep bonds with his family, on his faith, and on his deepening friendship with the man in the Oval Office, Barack Obama.

Writing with poignancy and immediacy, Joe Biden allows readers to feel the urgency of each moment, to experience the days when he felt unable to move forward as well as the days when he felt like he could not afford to stop.

This is a book written not just by the president, but by a father, grandfather, friend, and husband. Promise Me Dad is a story of how family and friendships sustain us and how hope, purpose, and action can guide us through the pain of personal loss into the light of a new future.

260 pages, Hardcover

First published November 14, 2017

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About the author

Joe Biden

63 books379 followers
Joe Biden represented Delaware for 36 years in the U.S. Senate before serving as 47th Vice President of the United States from 2009 to 2017. In November 2020 he was elected President of the United States.

As the Vice President, Joe Biden addressed important issues facing the nation and represented America abroad, traveling over 1.2 million miles to more than 50 countries. He convened sessions of the President’s Cabinet, led interagency efforts, and worked with Congress in his fight to raise the living standards of middle class Americans, reduce gun violence, and address violence against women.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,514 reviews
Profile Image for Christy.
3,819 reviews32.4k followers
July 10, 2020
4.5 stars!

“I try to be mindful, at all times, of what a difference a small human gesture can make to people in need. What does it really cost to take a moment to look someone in the eye, to give him a hug, to let her know, I get it. You’re not alone?”

Joe Biden is one of those people who have lived an incredible life. He’s done a lot in his lifetime, but he’s also lost a lot. Yet he still manages to be a fun and lovable guy who doesn’t lose his faith and looks on the bright-side.

After listening to this audio book (which was narrated by Joe himself) I have a new level of respect for him. If I would have lived his life, I don’t think I would have had the same strength he’s had. 

This is a powerful book. A story of one man’s life, his journey, the obstacles he overcame and all the loss he’s had. It’s a book that made me cry loads, but also gave me a lot of hope. I adore Joe Biden and I recommend this touching and heartfelt memoir to all!
Profile Image for Angela M .
1,286 reviews2,204 followers
April 2, 2019

I’ve always admired and respected Joe Biden. I’ve always connected with him - a good man, a regular Joe if you will, a man who has had his share of sorrow and yet managed to live a life of service as a senator for 36 years and then 8 years as Vice President. I’ve been wanting to read this, but so glad I chose to listen to the audiobook read by him. The love for his family is so beautifully depicted and his grief over losing his son Beau to brain cancer and all of his emotions are conveyed in his voice. I found it so touching to hear him. It’s such a genuine, intimate and moving look at the personal grief and also a telling of some of the things that that he was involved in as Vice President during the time of his son’s illness and after his death. I have to admit that I didn’t enjoy hearing about this side of his life as much as I was in the details of his relationship with his loving family, their times together, especially the annual vacations on “Nanatucket” for Thanksgiving. Having to bury your child is probably the most deeply painful thing that could happen to any parent. Unimaginable to have it happen twice in one’s life as it did to Biden. In some ways, this is a tribute to his son, Beau, who was a good man, a good father, a man of duty and service, actually a lot like his father. I’ve never met Joe Biden, but I feel as though I know him. I respect and admire him even more after listening to this memoir.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews50 followers
April 4, 2018
Reading this extraordinary memoir was so beautifully written- unsentimental-
but very sad - and searingly honest....I regret not having read it sooner.

The most poignant sections of this book for me were the family relationships and the intricacies of Beau’s disease, glioblastoma, ....the most aggressive cancer that begins in the brain.

“There was a new crises in Iraq that day, and it needed my attention. Although I knew it was my responsibility, I felt for the first time a sense of resentment that I had to divert focus to anything other than Beau, even for just half an hour. My son was in one room in extremis and I was sitting in another, forced to deal with a problem sixty-two miles away”.

There is no question of how much Joe Biden loves his country and family. He takes both jobs seriously. His children - wife - extended family - are all cut from the same thread. GOOD PEOPLE!

Getting to know Beau and his brother Hunter was especially moving to me. Their birthdays were only a day apart.....and the brotherly bond between them was inspiring.
*Beau* was a remarkable guy. It’s inconceivable what he went through. He met his cancer treatments head on - never resisting the most uncomfortable aggressive cancer treatments to fight the most aggressive type of cancer that he had. He ‘was’ not giving up. He was concerned for his wife, children, brother, sister, mom, and ‘pop’....( Joe).
And at one point in the journey ... the doctors actually thought Beau might actually be the first person to come through glioblastoma alive. I was so moved - impressed with the team of doctors - hoping for the possibility even though I knew the outcome. I was literally hanging by a thread trying to comprehend and follow along with the medical procedures. We could ‘feel’ those moments of hope and success
At one point Beau was ‘running’ again. I was soooo happy for his entire family. God...if I WANTED HIS RECOVERY ( so bad) and I KNEW this outcome .....I can’t imagine the roller coaster emotions of that last year.

I would love to see Joe Biden as our President right now ....just to imagine it kinda feels good for a few minutes. Don’t even ask me why my eyes water and I could be crying here in seconds. I won’t make this political review —
I totally respect Joe Biden, though, love this man. I am so sorry for his loss. For his entire family’s loss.
Taking time for oneself to grieve- is responsible.

Bless this family!

Thank you Joe Biden for the gift this book is.
Profile Image for Matt.
3,733 reviews12.8k followers
October 30, 2020
I have decided to embark on a mission to read a number of books on subjects that will be of great importance to the upcoming 2020 US Presidential Election. Many of these will focus on actors intricately involved in the process, in hopes that I can understand them better and, perhaps, educate others with the power to cast a ballot. I am, as always, open to serious recommendations from anyone who has a book I might like to include in the process.

This is Book #34, a quick re-read, in my 2020 US Election Preparation Challenge

Back in 2016, when many politicians climbed onto soap boxes and publish pieces to extol their own greatness, former Vice-President Joe Biden released this short book that seeks to rise above the fray and offer a story of hope, despair, and personal reflection. It is perhaps the first book I have read where a politician talks of their choice to turn away from high office, but it is much more than that, as the attentive and dedicated reader will discover.

At the heart of the story is the struggle Biden had with his eldest son’s brain cancer diagnosis. This realisation puts everything into perspective for the vice-president, as well as the entire Biden family. Wanting to keep things private, no one would share the news publicly and Biden was still trying to serve the Obama Administration as effectively as possible.

Woven into the story are countless international crises that Biden was required to handle, sometimes an eager distraction while at other times an anchor that kept him from the focus on family and loved ones. Added to that, there was the 2016 presidential election to consider. Would Biden, a capable long-term politician and hands-on member of the Executive Branch, toss his hat into the ring? Those in Democrat circles watched and waited, the country soundlessly tapped their collective foot, still unaware of the chaos that brewed for the Biden family below the surface.

When Beau Biden did pass, it was both a relief and a blow to the entire Biden family, as the glue that held them all together was lost. The elder Biden tried to remember all the promises he made to his son, some in passing and a few heart-felt pleas to carry the torch. The most important of these was the promise not to let 2016 pass without a Biden running for president.

The latter portion of the book, with Beau gone and Joe trying to wrap his head around it all, turns to the 2016 race. Would he run? Should he run? Could he run and make a difference? It would seem that while Biden pondered his options, the country had already placed him as a front-runner. As Biden confides, it was his decision and his alone. GOP members and the media would only offer kid gloves for so long, as well as the Clinton camp that began cursing another heavyweight to neutralise.

In the end, Biden chose what he felt was best, a promise to Beau that he would do his best to be the man everyone knew. The Joe Biden who used compassion over a club, integrity over vicious words, and intelligence over knee-jerk reactions. Now, with 2020 here and the election at hand, it is time for Joe’s promise to Beau to come to fruition, allowing him to fight for another son’s honour as well!

This is a wonderful piece, suited for all readers who like the more human side of politicians, though can understand the rhetoric that goes along with having a role in the machine. Touching at times, Biden pulls out all the stops and tells a story that will not soon be forgotten.

When I first picked up this book, I had just finished a thorough examination of the 2016 presidential election, one in which I was left gagging at the atrocious actions of people vying to represent the entire American population. Returning to it a second time, my study of the Trump Administration allowed me to see the promises in this piece through a new lens.

I wanted to see more about the narrative from the Biden perspective, the man who chose not to put his hat in the ring back in 2016. While I expected a strong political discussion throughout, I was happy to find something more complex. Within these pages rests a narrative that wove together the power of American politics, international clashes, family interactions, and a man’s struggle to come to terms with his son’s eventual illness.

The reader is in for a piece where they must handle emotions and see how world events shaped the man who sought to keep it all together and away from the public eye. Biden does not pull punches in this piece, but does not make excuses either. He tells of world events (ISIS, ISIL, Ukraine, Russia), as well as domestic policies in the Obama Administration, but he also injects strong ties to family and the love they bring him. This is a piece that helps shape a man and his love for country, family, and self. It is impossible to divorce any of it effectively.

A few things that I took away from this book include the knowledge that life does not stop when tragedy knocks, promises to those who are going before us mean more than a simple nod of the head, and there is more to life than tossing mud in the eyes of one’s opponents. Anyone who has been through a personal tragedy will know that while they are numb, a simple look out the window will show that life is not prepared to stop for grieving, it moves along. Such is one of the key sentiments that Biden shares with the reader. Terror still occurs, state sovereignty is not respected, domestic issues do not solve themselves. Biden was forced to juggle all of it in order to mix his public and personal lives. It is obvious (but nice to hear) that others struggle with this as well.

The list of promises made to the dying can be heart-wrenching, as the reader may know. One always promises to do this and that, if only to bring a sense of ease to the one who will soon be gone. However, Biden did not take his promises to Beau as simple window dressing, those “yah, umm, sure...” moments. He felt that he owed it to the son who always supported him and whose political light shone just as powerfully. Biden shows that he is a different sort of man, looking to others rather than his own greatness, to shape the future of his own legacy.

Finally, one cannot deny that 2016 was one of the most divisive presidential election campaigns in recent history. That Biden sought to enter the race is commendable, especially looking at those with whom he would cross paths. The decision not to run, where he would be forced to face Clinton, Sanders, and Trump (and countless others), may have been determining factors. But, Biden seems less interested in gouging out the eyes of others and more about trying to build the country up.

Few readers would deny that 2016 was less about policy and more about how to denigrate others in the hopes of tearing them down (as 2020 has proven to be on the GOP side, again). Did a newly-wounded Biden really need that in his life? It is the ultimate sacrifice to bear one’s self to the electorate, especially in these days when no one holds back with their mud slinging.

While there will be some readers who want dirt-only with their political stories, I would recommend this piece to anyone with a heart or who has been touched with the loss of a loved one. It seeks to unite, as much as politics usually divides, and tells of the powerlessness one can feel at the hands of cancer, but offers the strength to persevere.

Kudos, Mr. Vice-President, for such a wonderful piece. After reading this, I would strongly like to read a thorough version of your memoirs, should you choose to pen them. I located a great piece up to 2008 and now it’s time for more!

Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at:

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...
Profile Image for Justin Tate.
Author 7 books912 followers
October 12, 2020
Wow! Always liked Joe, but hadn't paid much attention to him until this year. The man's a saint, with the kindest heart in politics. You can tell right away. The vast majority of this memoir is about family, friends, and other people. When he does talk about his own accomplishments, it's within the context of his son's fatal illness or how a stranger inspired him.

The events of the book are primarily about Beau's influence on Joe's life and some explanation why he decided not to run in the 2016 election. There's heartbreaking hospital scenes, a lot of intimate family moments, those famous Joe anecdotes, and even some juicy political stuff for the junkies. For example, we learn the scoop on a private luncheon with Hillary before her public campaign announcement and some unexpected chats with Barack.

The descriptions of Joe and Obama's relationship are particularly engaging. The admiration Joe has for Barack is totally within character (Joe values all people) but it's still surprising that there was never any animosity between the two. Joe had heaps more experience and some years on Obama, but had unconditional respect for the man. Their friendship came somewhat of a surprise for them both (the book implies that Joe was chosen to appeal to voters in the rust belt) but quickly blossomed into something that made the Obama administration stronger than the typical Prez and VP relationship.

My vote for Joe in the 2020 primary came largely out of a desire to see the nomination process close (we didn't need another 2016) but now I can't imagine any other candidate at the top of the ticket. He's the best American for the job, and certainly someone with the most contrast to who's currently in the White House.

I have no idea how election night will turn out. I'm hopeful, maybe even optimistic, but not overconfident. Not this time. But I've done what I can. My mail-in ballot is already cast. Now it's just waiting to see if we get another four years of constant anxiety, or four years of peace.

PS: The audible version is fantastic (Joe reads it himself) and there's a lengthy interview at the end where he gets even more personal. If you like audiobooks, this isn't one to miss!
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,744 reviews2,273 followers
February 15, 2018
“I need some distraction
Oh, beautiful release
Memories seep from my veins

“And maybe empty
Oh, and weightless, and maybe
I'll find some peace tonight

”In the arms of the angel
Fly away from here
From this dark cold hotel room
And the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie
You're in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort here”

-- Angel, lyrics by Sarah McLachlan

”Rules for Happiness: something to do, someone to love, something to hope for.” - Immanuel Kant

As this memoir of loss and love begins, Joe Biden and his family were planning their family Thanksgiving gathering, with children and grandchildren, five and a half years since he had become vice president. The family looking forward to together time, and for him, “the natural ease and rhythms of our previous life, and of the calm to come when my time in office was done.”

And that, an easy, steady, calm rhythm, is the overall feeling of this book.

This is, in part, a journey alongside him through political events that he was involved with during that year, overseeing much of the international issues in the Ukraine and Iraq, plus the “Northern Triangle” of Central America. Another aspect of this is his internal struggle with the idea of potentially running for president. And then there’s Beau, his son, whose health is questionable at first, and deteriorates as his treatments for glioblastoma, go on. It saps the strength out of you to read this, every parent’s worst nightmare to watch their child, no matter their child’s age. There are also numerous heartwarming family moments, and I could feel the importance of family, his faith, and even his belief in this political system that we have was strongly felt.

This was heartbreaking to read at times, but I also loved how committed this man was and is to doing the right thing, not only for himself and his family, but for the country, and for the world.

And then yesterday, when I sat down, taking a momentary break from reading to check the television, I saw the unfolding news on the shooting at the high school in Parkland, Florida. And today, when I sat down to do the same, it was the current President speaking on the shooting, and I have to wonder at the way things are today.

”’Remember, Mr. President,’ I would say when it was just the two of us, ‘The country can never be more hopeful than its president. Don’t make me ‘Hope.’ You gotta go out there and be ‘Hope.’”

There is so much love in this family, in this book. This is such an incredibly poignant read. Not only because of his losses, but also because of the kindness and solace he offers to others.

”There will come a time when you’ll go riding by a field that you both loved, or see a flower, or smell the fragrance of his suit when he took it off and hung it in the closet, or you’ll hear a song, or you’ll look at the way someone walks, and it will all come back. But someday down the line, God knows when, you’ll realize it doesn’t make you want to cry. It makes you smile. ‘The time will come when the memory will bring a smile to your lips,’ I would tell everyone in that situation, ‘before it brings a tear to your eyes.’ That will happen, I assured her. And that is when you know that you’ve turned a corner.”

I really loved this, I loved how devoted he is to his family, to the country, and to finding resolutions to world problems. I loved the relationship he had and has with the Obamas, who consider themselves part of the Biden clan. I loved how he never really seemed to lose sight of the growth he gained because of his past tragedies, and that he was able to see those blessings that came out of those events.

Politically, this is worth reading, although it is not particularly heavy on the politics. At its heart, this is really a memoir of a parent who has lost a child, and the wisdom he has gained through his life that helped him deal with this crushing episode. I would hope that this would be somewhat healing for him to write, and comforting for others to read, knowing that someone else has survived this awful fate.

Many thanks, once again, to the Public Library system, and the many Librarians that manage, organize and keep it running, for the loan of this book!
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,564 reviews2,312 followers
December 11, 2017
Promise Me, Dad
A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose
By: Joe Biden
Narrated by: Joe Biden
This is a book I really liked and it moved me emotionally. I have to admit, I have always liked Joe Biden. He says what he thinks and to hell with it. He has a good moral background. America, family, and common sense are the key phrases I think of when I think of Joe. You may disagree but that's ok, read the book and write your own review. This is mine.
He is compassionate about a lot of things and none of them are hate, war, or bringing anyone else down. His love for his family and America are obvious in his past and present. He has a good disposition in general, and in how he handles situations, even things so horrific as the death of his son. He didn't get bitter, or lash out, or become a terrible person...he remained...Joe. This was very difficult to listen to in parts..I choked up and cried, I am a mom and to lose a son would be so crippling, so devastating..I don't know what kind of person I would become, how I would cope. Joe has strength and courage. It's not like he had a small job he could go take a few weeks off and mourn.
He also narrated this book so it was doubly hard to hear his voice as he tells of his loss and the anguish. I am glad I listened to this book. I have a deeper understanding to how he made it through that year. I hope I never have to endure this but I do see how strong a man he really is.
Profile Image for Erin .
1,233 reviews1,143 followers
December 16, 2017
I absolutely love Joe Biden.

In 2015 I donated money to a SuperPac that was trying to convince Joe to run for President. I truly believe that had he run he would have beat both Hillary and 45. Just think about how different our country would be right now. No Congressional investigations, no special prosecutor, and no indictments. Our country would still be respected among our allies. I was deeply disappointed when Joe decided not to run but I completely understood why.

He had just lost his oldest son Beau Biden to brain cancer, the same brain cancer that Senator John McCain is now battling( If you haven't already seen it you should go look at the video of Joe & Megan McCain on The View). Joe Biden has experienced more pain and loss than anyone should have to bare. While not yet 30 years old Joe lost his first wife and infant daughter in a car accident that left his 2 sons Beau and Hunter badly injured. I don't have children but I can only imagine how horrible it must be to lose one child but Joe has lost 2. With so much heartbreak Joe still carries within him a bright light and a warmness radiates from him.

Promise Me, Dad is part political memoir but mostly its a memoir of a fathers grief. Joe Biden is a man of great heart, humility, integrity, and decency. Joe Biden is a man who is grounded and relatable. This country is a better place because of his service.

A Must Read.
Profile Image for Cynthia.
317 reviews8 followers
November 19, 2017
Disappointing. I hesitated to give this a 3 star rating, feeling it's more 2 - 2.5.

Let me preface my review by saying in no way does my opinion on this book reflect my political leanings. I happen to like Joe Biden. I thought he was a great VP. I have the utmost respect for him, for his longstanding career, and my heart goes out to him and his family over the loss of Beau, and previously, his first wife and daughter.

I hesitate to criticize a book being plugged as a book about the last year of Beau Biden's life. Mixed feelings about doing so, I do not intend any disrespect or diminish the loss, but an honest review is always required regardless of the subject.

This book feels much more "look at all the great things I did that year" with a little bit of looking at that last year of Beau's life thrown in. I thought this would be more about the family that year. It wasn't.

While reading about Joe's part in the Ukraine-Russia crisis, Iraq and the Northern Triangle was interesting, I didn't pick this book up to read about all the amazing and miraculous things Joe was achieving by his stellar diplomacy. It felt very, very much like he was laying out his case as to why he would be worthy President come 2020. He talked quite a bit about his potential 2016 run, naming numerous people - celebrity to political to steel worker, who would back him in the run, how everyone was convinced he'd win. Wow. Totally disagree on that one. He had run previously, didn't work out. People now hated the Dem's even more, no way would they tag the VP as the next Pres. they wanted change. He did not reflect change.

The writings about Beau's fight and the family as a whole were well written. They are clearly a tight knit, loving, supportive family. You would want to know them, be in their inner circle. I was troubled with how little he wrote about Beau's wife Hallie. When Beau was going through various testing, chemo, radiation and so on, Joe would go on & on about how Hunter, his second son, was always by Beau's side. Where was Hallie? He mentioned her being there once or twice but the overall it was intimated she wasn't in the picture. I find it hard to believe she wasn't there at he husband's side. That she wasn't included in the decision making, to hear Joe tell it it was Beau and Hunter, no one else. That felt unfair to her. Who knows? Maybe she didn't have as integral a role in being there as a spouse normally would, but that would be surprising.

At times he wasn't as glowing about President Obama as I would have expected. It felt as though he harbors resentment that Obama was pushing him to not run for office, that Obama was leaning towards Hillary almost from the get go. During their weekly lunches Obama would often inquire if Joe had made a decision on entering the race. Joe was taking so long to make a decision, while understanding to a degree, it had to have been irritating to those needing an answer on whether they should move forward in building a campaign. I think one person should have said to Joe "If it's taking you this long to decide, that's your decision. The time isn't right".

Mark my words he runs in 2020. He's laying the groundwork right now.
Profile Image for Greta G.
337 reviews243 followers
July 3, 2019
“All is good”

Starting with the annual Biden Family Thanksgiving trip to Nantucket in 2014, fifteen months after his eldest son Beau was diagnosed with brain cancer (glioblastoma) of which he dies a year later, Joe Biden writes about the last year of his son’s struggle with this harrowing disease.

This introduction to the Biden family sets the tone of the book — everything is perfect — and after reading this chapter, you feel like you want to be a part of this family, of which the thirteen members are all nice and flawless.
Sure, there’s tragedy and grief throughout the book, but even in these heartbreaking circumstances, Joe Biden and his family maintain their composure; they are towers of strength. Even for Beau, who must have struggled hard in the face of this invasive cancer, “all is good”.
What a wonderful family!

Contrary to my initial expectations, Joe Biden writes mainly and extensively about his vice-presidency and about the way he (eloquently and flawlessly) handled the crises in Iraq and Ukraine. He also talks about his (wonderful) relationship and (deep) friendship with Barack Obama, and he explains his indecision over (successfully) running for president in 2016, in the aftermath of his son’s tragic death.

Joe Biden’s book is full of self-praise but also well-written , informative and emotional. He knows how to tell an interesting, personal and compelling story and the book succeeds in touching a sensitive nerve in a reader.
Profile Image for Sleepless Dreamer.
854 reviews226 followers
November 9, 2020
I didn't vote in these elections. 

I'm used to living in a country where voting takes 5 minutes and you don't have to do anything but show up. It felt impossible to figure out how the heck to vote from abroad (do Americans actually know their social security number? I have no idea where to even begin looking for it) when I don't have an American address (Do I vote in Wisconsin? In which county?? Who is even running in Wisconsin's state elections???) and then there's also a pandemic going on. I'm a terrible American citizen and Political Science student. 

And deep down, I know one of the reasons I didn't bring myself to vote was that I couldn't compromise for Joe Biden. I know politics isn't about the perfect candidate but I looked at him and I didn't feel inspired to spend hours filling American paperwork, I did not feel like his presidency is worth risking covid-19 by going to the embassy. I know that in Israeli politics, I'd never ever vote for Biden.

Since he won in Wisconsin (by 0.6%, damn), people around me are no longer that angry with me for not voting, so we have that. I do feel relieved that Trump's gone but I can't say I'm happy that Biden won. It's a very lukewarm feeling, like dang, America, find better candidates.

In any case, I picked up this book because I still feel curious about who Joe Biden is, apart from not being Trump. This book provides a look at Joe's life. It's intimate but not overwhelmingly so. This book is partly a story of a family dealing with cancer and partly a political memoir.
My favorite element of this book was that it weaved these two narratives together. Biden goes from talking about Ukraine and Russia to discussing Beau's health and then right back to discussing Iraq. Seeing the way these massive global problems were just part of his work day was an interesting glimpse into life in public policy. It felt like the personal and the political were truly one in his life. 

Biden cares. That's obvious. He loves his job and wants to make a difference for good. Even if I find something weirdly off putting about his All American style of presentation, I feel like it's easy to understand him, to like him. Everything about his life, from his Irish Catholic upbringing to his stutter to his dog feels organic. It doesn't feel like he can cause damage. 

I admire how he was able to handle so much tragedy. It's going to be interesting to see how his own experiences influence his ability to lead during a pandemic, if his own knowledge about hardship helps him make better decisions. 

This is my fourth American politician book this year and it's fascinating to see how different American politicians perceive their country. This makes me really curious to read more politician books from different countries and see how they compare (ugh, I sincerely hope other countries don't do the whole "we're the best country in the world" thing). 

All in all, this is a look at who Joe Biden is, beyond politics. It's written well and feels personal. I loved hearing the anecdotes about Obama. Understanding how he worked with various world leaders was very cool. I have to admit that I'm happy for him that he won, if only for Beau.
What I'm Taking With Me
- Trump during the debate brought up Hunter's drug problem when really we should be shaming Hunter Biden for dating Beau's wife after he passed away. Like, idk man, that feels messed up, that's your sister in law. 
- Scranton is a terrible city, I can't stand American suburbia. Like, the massive highways, that one main street, the onslaught of brands everywhere, the casual racism. 
- I literally forgot Biden considered running in 2016, it's like my brain just erased that. 
- Then there's also the thing many Israelis have been saying- as a human being, I support Biden but as an Israeli, I support Trump. I don't necessarily agree with that, since I think all of the international involvement here is harmful but I can see why people feel like this.
- Trump literally moved the embassy to Jerusalem and I was still too lazy to vote.

I've nearly managed to convince myself that reading this book counts as a form of studying cause hey, elections, political science! Totally not procrastinating!

Review to come, after I finally manage to get myself to do the Descartes reading. Ugh.
Profile Image for Truman32.
344 reviews100 followers
January 21, 2018
Reading Joe Biden’s Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose I was reminded again how great it was to have Biden-as thoughtful, compassionate, and smart as anyone you are likely to meet --as our 45th President. I mean, wow, we really dodged a bullet there. Just think; the current President of the United States of America could be an outdated, narcissistic jackass who is more concerned with his social media accounts, lying about his weight, and the imminent threat of sharks than governing our country.

Promise Me, Dad reads like a particularly moving episode of the television series The West Wing—though any shortfall in sparkling dialogue (and the tragic shortage of Sam Seaborns) is more than made up for with its surplus of intense and genuine feels. Promise Me, Dad documents the arduous year of 2015. As Vice President to Barrack Obama, Joe Biden has his hands full overseeing international issues in the Ukraine, Iraq, and Central America’s violent Northern Triangle. It is the final year of his term so he is also forced to make the decision of running for president—is he invested 110% in the taxing toll this political campaign will cost? But even more than that, he grapples with the fact his dear son, Beau, is gravely ill with a malignant brain tumor. “Promise me Dad,” Beau tells his father. “Give me your word that no matter what happens you’re going to be alright.”

This is a tale of profound family love between fathers and his sons, and between siblings. Despite Beau being in his 40’s, Joe sees him always as an 8-year-old boy. He will always be his little boy and watching him battle glioblastoma is crushing. It is apparent that Biden is blessed with the support and love of his family and friends something he will need, as Beau gets sicker and sicker.

Reading Promise Me, Dad, I have learned that 1.) there are moments of true grace and compassion in this harsh world we live in, and 2.) I apparently am not above weeping uncontrollably in my car at my son’s elementary school pick up line. Think of the ugliest crier you know and then immerse them in mucus and you will have me yesterday afternoon. The ball of scrunched up Kleenex tissues was the size of a Sumo wrestler’s head and stout enough to set off the passenger seat air-bag warning sensor. The school’s principal even came out to see if I needed medical attention.

Joe Biden comes off as a truly good guy who cares about folks and making our country and our world better. This book is full of instances where his focus transitions from his own suffering to making other people feel better. There is a moment where Barrack Obama gets visibly upset hearing about Beau’s health decline and Joe works to comfort and console him. There is another instance with the father of a murdered New York policeman, Wei Tang Liu, showing up to provide solace to Joe that would melt even the most frozen heart in America (which is, of course, the heart of actress Betty White). In fact if you do not have tears running down your burning cheeks at the end of this well-written book I can only hazard to guess that you must in fact be an evil alien robot Cylon and Dr. Who will need to beam in and perform a petrificus totalus spell on you to take you back to the forest moon of Endor.

This is wonderful book, and while sad it demonstrates the resiliency of people to overcome great sadness as well as the humanity shown when giving comfort to our families, friends, and neighbors in pain (often from unexpected places).
Profile Image for piperitapitta.
951 reviews333 followers
January 20, 2021
«Ciò che rende l’America diversa, è ciò che ci rende eccezionali»

Determinato, saldo, retorico, cattolico, orgoglioso di essere americano, leale a Barack Obama, ai Democratici, all’America e ai suoi valori, legato in maniera viscerale alla sua famiglia, profondamente convinto dell’eccezionalismo americano: Joe Biden si rivela non solo un uomo politico attento sia alle necessità dei suoi connazionali che in grado di diventare guida e mediatore nelle questioni internazionali, ma anche capace di incarnare sia la figura di “vice” che quella di leader e di restituire, al tempo stesso, l’immagine di un uomo integro, provato dalle vicende personali e dai lutti subiti dalla sua famiglia, che non ha mai esitato a fare un passo indietro quando non si è sentito nelle condizioni di poter dare il cento percento nel ruolo che la politica gli offriva.
Io non so se sarà un grande presidente, anche se le premesse ci sono tutte (e chi crede sia solo una figura di transizione che verrà oscurata da Kamala Harris vuol dire che non sa bene chi sia Joe Biden), so solo che se terrà fede anche a uno solo degli impegni di cui già nel 2015 scriveva di volersi fare carico, cioè quello di diventare il Presidente durante il cui mandato si sarebbe sconfitto il cancro, se solo continuerà a provare la stessa empatia per le persone che ha continuato a provare durante tutta la sua carriera e i due mandati da vice presidente, per me avrà già vinto la sfida.

Ci siamo, domani aggiungerò la foto mancante.

20 gennaio 2121
Profile Image for Jennifer Blankfein.
384 reviews654 followers
November 29, 2020
I was overwhelmed with emotion and shed tears all the way through Promise Me, Dad. In this memoir, Joe Biden tells us about his younger life, career, and political choices during his time serving as Vice President in the Obama administration along with some of the devastating personal challenges he endured. When he was a young politician, he lost his wife and baby daughter in an horrible accident and was left to raise his two young sons on his own. Fortunately, he met and married Jill who became an important and loved member of his family, part of his support system and mother to the children. In addition to telling stories about his home life, Biden talks about his career, the political environment and shares his feelings surrounding his government work and being asked to run for VP. We learn about his duties in the White House and his travels around the world. I was thrilled to know that he took his grandchildren on business trips to expose them to different countries.

During Barack Obama’s presidency, Joe Biden’s beloved son, Beau was diagnosed with a deadly cancer and the family agreed to keep their struggles private and out of the spotlight. With only very few people aware of the severity of what was happening, Joe Biden kept up with his work, thriving on being busy. Primarily focused on international affairs and just as things in Iraq were heating up, Beau’s health took a turn for the worse. Enduring the death of his son was incredibly difficult but with dedication to his family and to our country, Joe Biden had unbelievable physical, mental and emotional strength to keep on track during this horrific time.

With stories about his love of family, his compassion toward others, his political objectives and his respect for the process, we learn more about who Biden is as a man, a father, a husband and a leader. President Elect Joe Biden has been through such loss in his life and yet he continues to follow his instinct to make this world a better place. He is a good, kind and honorable man. I loved reading Promise Me, Dad, and highly recommend it. FOR EXCELLENT TV WITH A POLITICAL SPIN GO TO https://booknationbyjen.com/2020/11/2...
Profile Image for Stephanie Anze.
657 reviews112 followers
February 23, 2018
Joe Biden was into his second term as vice-president of the United States when his son Beau was diagnosed with a brain tumor. As the Biden family was gathering together in Nantucket for Thanksgiving, it was to be their last with Beau but they did not know this yet. Amid national and international crises vice-president Biden was preoccupied and as the health of his son grew more uncertain, even more so. There was also the question as to wether he was going to run for president in 2016. Vice-president Biden had a lot on his plate and this is his journey.

This work is by and about Joe Biden, the vice-president to Barack Obama. Just yesterday I was having a conversation with my mom about how there are certain people that you can not help but deeply dislike without knowing them personally. Conversely, there are also people that are easy to love and respect without knowing them personally and (for me, at least) Joe Biden falls into the latter category. And that was before I read this memoir. Part political and family-oriented, this is the story of a man that had to juggle multiple problems and that was before Beau's diagnosis. As far as the politica aspect, it was not too heavy and simple enough to convey a general picture. Biden oversaw crises in Iraq, Ukraine and the "Northern Triangle" of Central America (Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala). At the home front, he dealt with senseless shootings and the economy (among other issues). Travelling often and speaking with different world representatives, Biden dealt firsthand with the international community. His bond with the president was also highlighted as their friendship and partnership continued to grow. It makes me believe that all those Obama-Biden memes that got so much attention after the last election are very much real interactions.

The heart of this book is Beau. Biden is a dedicated father and grandfather. He first dealt with tragedy when he had just been elected senator when his wife and daughter unexpectadly died in a car crash. His sons Beau and Hunter survived the accident and eventually Biden formed a family with Jill. Per his son's request, the Biden family dealt with his diagnosis privately. I can not begin to imagine the weight on Biden's shoulders, having to lead the country while putting on a brave face. This was a well written, informative, touching and emotional book, one that will stay with me for a while. I completely understand Biden's decision to not run for president. After all, the last election was a circus and a mockery to the system. After everything Biden went through, he more than deserved peace and quiet. Having said that, how nice would it be to say President Biden right now? Take it from someone that does not read memoirs often, this is an excellent book about a great man. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Jean.
1,710 reviews743 followers
December 2, 2017
The memoir by Joe Biden covers his last year as vice president and the tragedy of his son’s death His son, Beau, was the Attorney General of Delaware and was planning on running for governor of Delaware when he was diagnosed with brain cancer. This is not Joe Biden’s first family tragedy. When Joe was first elected Senator from Delaware, his wife and daughter were killed in a car accident. His two sons, Beau age three and Hunter age two, were in the back seat. They were injured but survived the crash. Biden provided a good overview of the ongoing research of glioblastoma brain cancer.

The book is well written, but I found it to be an emotional book to read. I wished there had been more about Beau’s family particularly his wife, Hallie. Biden spoke of his grandchild but little was mentioned about Hallie. But I understand how difficult it must have been for Biden to write. Biden provided an overview of his last year as vice president along with some insights about people he worked with.

I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book is almost eight hours long. Joe Biden narrated the book.
Profile Image for Kathy B.T..
16 reviews1 follower
May 25, 2019
I was deeply moved by this book and am so happy to know so much more of Joe Biden’s own history. A man of great honor!🇺🇸
Profile Image for Lynn.
867 reviews125 followers
August 31, 2018
An intense, moving memoir by a thoughtful, inspiring man.

I probably picked the wrong week to read it, given that Sen. John McCain died of the same brain cancer this week that killed Beau Biden. (Full disclosure: I lost my father to this same brain cancer in 1982. How I hate this disease!)

At times this book was hard to read, given all that the Biden family went through during Beau’s illness. Joe Biden’s devotion to his family is truly remarkable, as is his devotion to his job and country. His love of family as well as his love of country is all encompassing. We sorely missed out when he decided not to run for President in 2016, but his reasons were understandable.

If I have any quibble with this book, it’s that the sections on Iraq, the Ukraine, and Central America are a bit too heavy on policy minutiae that we really didn’t need to know. That kind of stuff may have gotten Joe through the worst times of his life, but it doesn’t add so much to this book. The book is best when it concentrates on the personal, as does Joe. I love this guy! He is all heart.

An absolute recommend!

Profile Image for Connie G.
1,693 reviews453 followers
July 8, 2019
Former Vice President Joe Biden has written a touching memoir about the difficult decisions faced by his family during his second term of office. His oldest son, Beau, had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Beau, the Attorney General of Delaware, was only in his mid-40s when he faced a poor prognosis for the glioblastoma, an aggressive cancer. Biden writes about his close family rallying around Beau during his medical treatments.

Biden was a very involved Vice President who had previously been the Chairman of the Foreign Relations committee in the Senate. He especially dealt with issues in Central America, Iraq, and Ukraine for President Obama. Biden had been considering a run for the Presidency in 2016 before Beau's heartbreaking death. He realized that he needed time to grieve, something that would not be possible while putting all his energy into a campaign.

Biden comes across as a very warm, compassionate man who treasures his family. He also writes about the close relationship that developed between him and President Obama. This moving memoir show Biden as a caring individual both in his public service career and as a devoted family man.
Profile Image for Leslie.
1,127 reviews229 followers
Want to read
November 27, 2017
I am not putting this down because it’s not a good book. I was and am interested in it. But I think I need to try later. My uncle passed away from the same type of cancer as Joe’s son. Around the same time too. It’s just a little much right now.
Profile Image for Jami.
1,655 reviews7 followers
November 16, 2017
I can relate to this book, as my sister passed away from the same glio cancer that Beau had. I can definitely relate to Joe Biden's description of the feelings when they heard the dreaded glio diagnosis to some of the struggles that he went through watching this happen. One thing that struck me was that my sister died 10 years before, and yet, while there are new treatments available, the outcome is still the same and the prognosis is poor.

While I do not pretend to be able to understand the pressures Mr. Biden faced dealing with the demands of the Vice Presidency, I do understand what its like to have to deal with life demands when watching a loved one die. He dealt with the conflict of work pressures and public life with wanting to be with his son; my conflict was on a lesser scale, but is was very real nevertheless. I was in the process of studying for the bar exam when they stopped treatments on my sister. I was going to forego the bar that time around and take it later so I could spend time with her, but she told me that if I did that, she would kill me. So, I did take it and I was happy that she knew that I did that.

While Beau's illness and the Biden family were the focal points of this book, there were also glimpses into the life of a Vice President. I found his insights into his relationship with Mr. Obama to be particularly interesting; I knew they were close and had respect for one another publicly, and I was glad to see that they had the same relationship privately.
Profile Image for Linda.
1,442 reviews1 follower
November 16, 2017
This was an emotional read. A personal look at love, family, loss and grief. I’ve always respected Joe Biden and his core beliefs. Losing a child, I don’t know of anything worse.
Profile Image for Deity World.
875 reviews7 followers
May 15, 2023
A very emotional read, this book is based on his years as vice president working with Obama but on the side of this he talks about his family tragedies (his wife and sons car crash death and his other sons brain tumour death) highly recommended not an autobiography as such more of a short memoir
Profile Image for Amanda.
22 reviews10 followers
November 19, 2017
Joe Biden is one of my favorite people in the world. Period. He is REAL and honest and CARES. I teared up anytime he wrote about his son’s last days or his late wife and daughter’s death. To have been through SO MUCH and still have strength of character and faith is so admirable to me. HE GIVES HIS PERSONAL CELL PHONE NUMBER to basically complete strangers who are grieving losses so they can call him whenever they need to talk! And people call him! I just. He is so great, and this book is such a sad, poignant, HOPEFUL, inspiring read.
Profile Image for Shannon A.
674 reviews530 followers
January 3, 2018
Really was curious about this book. It was so heartfelt and genuine. I definitely recommend!
Profile Image for Nancy.
1,446 reviews335 followers
December 26, 2017
I enjoyed reading this book. Although the focus is on the Biden family and how it reacted to the illness and death of Beau Biden, Vice President Biden tells the story in context of his public life as Vice President.
The Biden family's committment to excellence, the bedrock of faith they draw from, and their deeply committed love for each other is an inspirational read.
Biden talks about his accomplishments as Vice President, the relationship forged with President Obama, and his experience in international politics. Biden also covers the behind the scenes story of his consideration regarding running for office in 2016.
One could see the book as preparing the way for a future campaign.
Beau Biden's loss was devestating for his family. And many believe his loss is also a nation's loss, that Beau was destined to be president.
I purchased this book.
Profile Image for Kym Moore.
Author 3 books31 followers
June 27, 2020
"I have come to believe that the first duty of a public servant is to help bring people together, especially in a crisis, especially across difficult divides, to show respect for everybody at the table, and to help find a safe way forward." -Joe Biden

This is such a heartwarming story, more about Joe Biden the family man and comforter, than Joe Biden the politician. I heard someone who lost a child once say, "The death of a child is more painful than any other type of pain you can imagine. You always think your children will outlive you." While I never experienced such pain as losing a child, I can understand the feeling of enveloping grief. His son's Beau's illness and ultimate death were so heartbreaking. Those of us who've experienced a personal loss know there is still a sign of hope and purpose we must fulfill.

He and President Obama have a special, endearing bond, not just in their leadership positions but through their mutual compassionate friendship and respect for each other like that of biological brothers. It is deeply moving, and heartbreaking to read the accounts of the grief from losing his first wife Neilia and young daughter Naomi in a car accident, and then his son Beau. Hunter was Beau's "ride or die" partner and they all made sure (including Beau's doctors) that he received privacy and maintained a sense of dignity while going through his treatments.

In his journal, Biden recorded: "May 30. 7:51 p.m. It happened. My God, my boy. My beautiful boy." This along with other accounts in the book brought me to tears.

I was moved by his personal accounts of his trip with his granddaughter to Dachau, the World War II-era concentration camp where Hitler exterminated Jewish people. I was especially moved by the poem he included written by Martin Niemöller, a German theologian and Lutheran pastor who is best known for his opposition to the Nazi regime. While there are a few variations of this poem, this is the version included in Biden's book:

First They Came

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out -
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionist, and I did not speak out -
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out -
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak for me.

Joe Biden reminds us of our higher purpose, to never stop being a dreamer, and to refuse to stop believing in possibilities. He reminds us of our need for comfort and connection. This is a good-read that may not have been overwhelmingly exciting but the elements included are certainly introspective and transformative, regardless of your political affiliation.
Profile Image for Alisa.
385 reviews70 followers
December 18, 2017
Heartbreaking yet hopeful on multiple levels. The former Vice President is someone the public has come to know as a man of authenticity and conviction, both of which resonate throughout this book. It is a memoir of his last year in office that coincided with his son Beau's illness and eventual passing from an aggressive brain cancer. Biden talks openly of dealing with the deep sense of loss one experiences in the passing of a loved one. His first wife and daughter were killed in a traffic accident when he was a young Senator. And he talks about the personal devastation of that loss, finding a way forward, and confronting it once again with Beau's cancer diagnosis. Mind you, this is at a time when, as Vice President, he was negotiating the conditions of US support to the Ukrainian government and the battle of ISIL in Mosul. For most of us dealing with a family member facing end of life issues, we are just trying to figure out how to hold it together enough to put one foot in front of the other every day. Joe Biden has always considered himself an ordinary man and he talks about how he relates to everyday Americans he encountered who were grieving a difficult loss. It is telling that he found strength in times when he had the difficult task of comforting others. That takes real compassion. It is clear that his family bonds are intensely strong, as are his religious beliefs. It is also very clear that this man is driven by a deep sense of purpose infused with optimism and hope for a better tomorrow. Moving and personal.
Profile Image for Emily.
659 reviews4 followers
November 21, 2017
I don't follow politics closely. Based on the title, I was expecting more personal stories rather than a recount of Biden's time in office. I also thought that he would address his son Hunter's relationship with Beau's widow. Overall, it was boring and self indulgent. However, the reflection of Beau's death was very poignant.
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