The partnership of Barack Obama and Joe Biden is unique in American history. The two men, their characters and styles sharply contrasting, formed a dynamic working relationship that evolved into a profound friendship that this work by The Wall Street Journal reporter Levingston explores.
Levingston spends much of Barack and Joe dwelling on the public-facing aspect of — and public response to — their 'bromance.' ... What Barack and Joe fails to do is shed much new light on the private nature of the two men’s relationship. The nonfiction book editor of The Washington Post, Levingston...appears to have done little original reporting of his own, interviewing only a handful of people who observed the relationship up close ... As a result, Barack and Joe frequently reads like a rehash of episodes and events that are already well known, with seemingly minor matters being afforded undue significance if only because they’ve previously been well documented ... Even worse, Barack and Joe is written in a cloying style...that seems better suited to a children’s book than a sophisticated political account.
[Levington's] best insights revolve around their earliest days as colleagues — not in the White House but in the Senate ... after the inauguration, one of the book’s main strengths can become its biggest disappointment. With great attention to detail and extensive research, Levingston puts the reader at critical moments in the Obama-Biden administration as they relate to the men’s personal ties. But with only limited cooperation from key figures in their orbit, and no interviews with the two principals, Levingston concedes that his 'rough draft' of this recent history leaves much more for others to uncover.
[Levington's] admiration for this relationship serves to justify this book. Unfortunately for Levingston, neither Obama nor Biden consented to interviews or replied to emails ... Levingston weaves a lively narrative about an unlikely alliance between the taciturn Obama and gregarious, voluble Biden ... The author stretches to include any commonalities he can identify—for example, that both men used sports metaphors ... the author is at a loss to explain Obama’s reticence in supporting Biden’s current campaign for the presidency, and he ends simply by proclaiming the bromance mesmerizing and inspiring.