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Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose Hardcover – November 14, 2017
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The Instant #1 New York Times Bestseller
From President 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.
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"The book is a backstage drama, honest, raw and rich in detail. People who have lost someone will genuinely take comfort from what he has to say...These flashes of vulnerability are part of what makes Promise Me, Dad memorable; so, too, are the small, tender interactions between Biden and his dying son."
― The New York Times
"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
"Biden exudes humanity throughout the book. He lays bare his emotions and vulnerabilities at losing a son with so much promise."
About the Author
- Publisher : Flatiron Books; 1st edition (November 14, 2017)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1250171679
- ISBN-13 : 978-1250171672
- Item Weight : 13.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 6 x 1 x 8.75 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #81,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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Mr. Biden’s book is almost a treatise on grief or how to deal with the death of a child or the loss of anyone: the putting on a good, composed face to meet the world while weeping in private; the keeping up with a daily routine, going to work, putting one foot in front of the other; the dependence on and drawing strength from family members and friends. And he says that he knows from “previous experience that grief is a process that respects no schedule and no timetable.” (The divine Miss Emily Dickinson would say that “sorrow has its own season.” Then Mr. Biden confirms what those of us who have waded through our own pools of grief know all too well: “I knew also, from hard-earned experience, that the second year is in some ways the hardest. The shock is over, as is the strangeness of living through all the first holidays and anniversaries and birthdays, and the undeniable permanence of the loss begins to settle in.” And the ultimate, sad truth as this good man writes so poignantly: “But I have come to understand that nobody can really take away all the pain, no matter how close. There are times when each of us must bear the burden of loss alone, and in his or her own way.”
I was much moved with the Vice President’s comments about his relationship—friendship is a better word—with President Obama. They continued to have their weekly lunches during the time of his son’s illness. “Barack was the first person outside my family to know of Beau’s illness,” Mr. Biden writes. And he tells of the President’s offer of money if the family needed it. “’I’ll give you the money. You can pay me back whenever.’” In one luncheon with the President when Mr. Biden relates to him the difficulties that his son has been having, he recalls that he was hurting and the President obviously could see it: “I looked up and Barack was in tears.”
Mr. Biden comes through on every page as the most decent of people. One such instance: he recounts giving a eulogy for one of the two ambushed police officers African American Rafael Ramos in New York in December, 2014. After the service he and his wife Jill visit the home of the parents of the slain Chinese American officer Wenjian Liu. Before he leaves, Mr. Biden gives his personal private phone number to the police officer’s father and encourages him to call him when he wants to talk.
Mr. Biden also writes of what he continues doing in his job as vice president, the international trips he takes and his toying with running for president. But in the end, this compelling, beautiful book is a tribute to his loving wonderful son. As he remembers as Beau is slipping away: “I knew that I was loved.”
Such a fine book.
Honestly, I wasn't expecting much... but this book is really good. It touches on Joe Biden's political philosophy and policy goals, but that isn't its focus. Its focus is on Joe's son Beau Biden and his battle with cancer. It's deeply emotional and I can't imagine many people coming out of this book with anything less than immense respect for Joe Biden as a human being. You get to experience the Joe Biden that we've heard so much about--not the sleepy old man who doesn't know what's happening, but the genuine friend who loves his family and cares about his country.
That half of the book is the more engaging half, but its counterbalanced by Biden's interaction with the heads of state of other countries, namely Ukraine and Iraq. In the midst of his taxing personal struggles, it reminds you that he still has a job (and an big, important one at that). But it's never all that boring. Because Biden chose to focus on foreign policy, what you get is closer to a conversation between two people in dire situations, instead of a confusing list of complicated policy goals.
In addition to those two main halves, you also get interactions between Biden and Obama (a personal highlight, in my opinion), and a look into Biden's life as he decided whether or not to run for president in 2016. For people like me who closely watch American politics unfold, it was fascinating to see it all from Joe Biden's perspective.
I loved this book. It gave me hope in Joe Biden as a candidate, and further solidified the vote I was already planning to give him. He rarely goes on the offensive too, even neglecting to mention President Trump in the epilogue, despite the fact that Clinton's 2016 campaign was so relevant to the book. If you don't align with me politically, it's hard for me to say whether or not you'll like the book, but you'll probably at the very least understand and respect why Biden has earned such rare bipartisan respect. As we enter the final stretch of the 2020 race, I can't recommend this book enough.
Top reviews from other countries
This is a powerfully uplifting account of family and faith. It has a strong backstory that paints a personal picture of a critical year in modern history.
Please read it ...
The book blends Biden's comprehensive and agonising account of how his son, Beau, succumbed to the tragedy of a brain tumour with his efforts, as Vice-President, to resolve major foreign policy challenges, particularly in Iraq, Ukraine and Central America. This is, therefore, an unusual book but the author's approach worked for me. Although the sadness of the story is heart breaking, Biden's loving relationship with his son and family is inspiring. I felt privileged to be allowed into Joe Biden's grieving process as well as gaining an insight into how he applies his considerable political experience to resolve complex issues.
Instead, there are too many work related circumstances as father Biden retold in this book how he handled the heads of state. But aren’t those already in the news?
I want to know more about the times they shared together as father and son. But this book dealt with the stories of Beau getting sick.
The one image that pulled me to want this book is the powerful book cover and its title - Promise me, dad! Turn it around, it would be Promise me, Son! Or to anyone for that matter, this would become a heart wrenching call to love. I cried when I saw the cover.
Then I cried again for every eulogy I read at the end of the book. One of the eulogies was from Obama, beautifully crafted. So uplifting and lots of sunshine.
The book tells you about Biden family rituals that keep the family strong.
It shows some of the ways a vice president can be useful & the close personal relationship with Barack Obama. Obama often left foreign policy to Biden. Joe felt that politics is about the personal and stressed the fundamental importance of having trust in ones dealings particularly with other leaders. Authenticity shines through the book.