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Review: Promise Me, Dad by Joe Biden

Title: Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose
Author: Joe Biden
Year Published: 2017

Genre: Adult non-fiction (memoir)
Pages: 258
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2018 Google Reading map)USA (TX, DE, MA, Washington, DC)

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from a friend

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): In November 2014, thirteen members of the Biden family gathered n Nantucket for Thanksgiving, a tradition they had been celebrating for the previous forty years; it was the one constant in what had become a hectic, scrutinized, and over-scheduled life. The Thanksgiving holiday was a time to connect and to reflecting 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. 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 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 learn 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.

Review: My dad read this and said it was poignant, sad, and interesting, which was enough for me to know I wanted to read it. I also like Joe Biden; he seems like a good person. I had the pleasure of meeting the Vice President and his wife, Jill, in March 2014 when they were in Santa Barbara. A few teachers were chosen to meet them and tour Air Force 2. They were both so genuine and relaxed with us. I realize now that this visit took place in the midst of his son's treatment for brain cancer.

My dad was correct: this book is politically and personally interesting and it is emotional. Joe Biden really does seem like a "normal" guy; he loves his family, making time for them whenever possible and that above all else, he should remember his duty to the American people. Sometimes these two parts of his life come into conflict, which is so beautifully shown in this memoir.

As vice president Biden was given much more involvement than most in his position. He was trusted to take on a large role in our foreign policy so the book has many interesting stories of his work in the Ukraine, Central America, and Iraq. I liked how he balanced these stories with the progress of his son Beau's fight against brain cancer and how the Biden family dealt with it. When he wrote about Beau's last breath, I wept.

After Beau died, Biden had to decide if he was going to run for president or not and I found this part really fascinating. If you are a parent or at all interested in the Obama presidency, this book is a good one to read.

Challenges for which this counts:

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