I’m really glad Joe Biden won the presidential election. (Like really, really, really glad.) Finally– thankfully– the grown-ups are back in charge.
But who is Joe Biden? I wanted to find out more about the new POTUS, so I was happy to see this new book, Joe Biden, arrive at WPL.
What Evan Osnos’ book is NOT is a comprehensive biography. I’d call it more of a quick, easy to read overview that gives the reader the measure of the man. We see the forces that shaped him (for one, he has suffered almost unbelievable personal tragedy), his values, strengths and weaknesses that he brings to the table and why he decided to make his presidential bid. The book is pieced together from articles Osnos wrote for the New Yorker magazine. It strikes me as being balanced and fair.
Osnos certainly doesn’t gloss over Biden’s shortcomings. Biden has always been gaffe-prone. He sometimes says things that are not exactly true, or things that are true, but better left unsaid, or things that are just plain tone-deaf. And then there was that too-touchy thing with women, which thankfully he got called out on and has put behind him.
On the plus side, Biden is clearly a hugely decent and empathetic man. He has spent nearly 50 years in government (in the Senate and then 8 years as Vice-President) so certainly knows his way around and how to get things done. He also has great people skills.
I enjoyed the glimpses of the relationship between Biden and President Barack Obama. I never knew that when Obama first asked Biden to run as his VP, Biden adamantly refused. No way was he going to play second fiddle, especially to someone he considered less qualified to be President than himself! Funny that the two men went on to such a celebrated “bromance.”
I also recently read Promise me, Dad (2017) by Joe Biden. This is Biden’s account of his eldest son’s diagnosis and eventual death from brain cancer. He tried to be fully available for his son, while at the same time keeping up a full schedule of VP duties. A moving account—though probably written with a dash of political calculation as well.
— Penny D.