Promise Me, Dad is Joe Biden’s poignant, instructive and deeply affecting account of a family’s struggle against a vicious brain cancer, played out against the demands of his job as vice president and the temptations of another run for the presidency. It is also a touching account of the cruel realities of cancer, especially cancer that strikes a child.
What’s most remarkable about Biden’s Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose is that he’s decided to give us full visibility into the agony and strangeness of that period, showing just what it was like to care for his son — and then mourn him — while simultaneously fulfilling his duties as vice president. 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. But this memoir is also a political book, one in which Biden touts his accomplishments and makes frequent forays into the wetlands of foreign and domestic policy. His position-paper entr’actes can be awkward and artless, much like the author himself. But after a time, you come to understand why he’s mixing in pages of his curriculum vitae with pages about grief: To Biden, the two are intertwined. It’s almost as if he suffers from a kind of political synesthesia ... It’s to Biden’s credit that you don’t really question these anecdotes. He may be a bit excitable, a bit of a windbag. But anyone who’s ever covered Congress (I did, for a while) can discern on the page what was discernible in real life: the bartender aspect of Biden’s character, the natural convener who reads customers well enough to put them at ease. He’s always understood that the political is personal.
Biden recounts in vivid, heart-wrenching detail what it was like for him and his family from the time his eldest son, Beau, a rising star in the Democratic Party, was diagnosed with brain cancer, to his death less than two years later and the aftermath ... This is not a score-settling memoir, but it's clear there's no love lost between Biden and Clinton.
Set against the backdrop of the final years of his vice presidency, Biden’s memoir of his son’s battle with cancer is a spare yet sturdy chronicle of how one family, one very public family, coped with the reality of a monumental health crisis as privately and seamlessly as possible ... Biden weaves the narrative of Beau’s decline with the global events that equally required his attention ... Given its dual focus on his political accomplishments, some may see this memoir as a preamble to a future presidential run ... Written without an ounce of self-pity, it serves instead as an homage to a man Biden admired above all others and offers a passionate ray of hope to those who have suffered the loss of a loved one with the reassuring message that there is, indeed, a way through their grief.
Politics is the backdrop to Biden’s engaging new memoir, Promise Me, Dad ...documents the year Beau, an Army National Guard veteran who served in Iraq, battled the disease, starting at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and ending at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington ... This memoir is proof Biden has, as painful as that might have been. Absorbing and often deeply moving, Promise Me, Dad is Biden’s love letter for his son — a son for whom his admiration was surpassed only by his adoration.
Joe Biden’s memoir Promise Me, Dad is many things. It is a snapshot of a painful period of Biden’s life, as his son, Beau, fights a highly aggressive form of brain cancer and eventually dies in June of 2015. It’s a powerful look at how illness and bereavement can permeate every facet of a politician’s personal and professional life ...emblematic of the qualities that made Biden a popular vice president: his ability to empathize, particularly when discussing grief; the fact that he really seems to give a damn ...ends with Biden laying out how he would have run in the 2016 election—and there’s not much that’s small about it ...there are long chunks of this book that suggest that Biden is more out of touch with the Democratic Party than he thinks.
Promise Me, Dad is Joe Biden’s poignant account of the most challenging year of his vice-presidency and the second-most difficult year of his life ... Biden’s book describes a year of almost unbelievable sensory overload, when the vice-president was juggling frequent visits to the hospital to comfort his son with regular phone calls to the prime minister of Iraq and the president of the Ukraine... More than anything else, the book is a reminder of the importance of politics: how much elections can change the trajectory of a country, and how different America has become one year after Donald Trump was elected president ... Biden repeatedly asserts that he would have been successful if he had run for president in 2016 ... The author explains that the grieving process 'doesn’t respect or much care about things like filing deadlines or debates and primaries and caucuses. And I was still grieving.'
That first chapter, ‘Biden Family Thanksgiving,’ is the best of Promise. Detailing Biden’s family ritual of heading to Nantucket for the holidays, ‘Thanksgiving’ is a tender and teary-eyed reminiscence of the tradition, tracking the growth of Biden’s family from a small nuclear unit to a large extended clan of adult children and vivacious young grandchildren … As an emotionally compelling political memoir, Promise has very little competition. The portions dealing with Biden’s feelings of helplessness and his grief and his sorrow are tremendously affecting. Several of the passages read by Biden brought me to tears … The political chapters of Promise read like the modern variety of political memoirs, which is to say that they’re safe and inoffensive and shamelessly self-laudatory... The real question that Promises silently asks: Should Joe Biden run for president in 2020?
The former vice president turns in an affecting memoir that recounts personal tragedies and political triumphs ... On the positive side, he enumerates with pride and a certain wonkiness, are his achievements in law enforcement reform, health care, and foreign policy — achievements sometimes thwarted by the political opposition. As to the depths of despair, he had to endure the deaths of his first wife and baby daughter in a car accident and, later, that of a survivor of that crash, his son Beau, who died of a lingering, devastating cancer ... Biden is discreet in naming names that others might revile, but he offers tantalizing hints...about what to do upon leaving office, his plans might just include a return to public life, a duty, he writes, that 'makes me nostalgic for the future.'