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Review: "Promise Me, Dad" by Joe Biden


Let's not talk about the man, let's try and focus on the book. "Promise Me Dad" is a straightforward, uncomplicated, simple sentence book that delivers exactly what it aims to. A love letter to a deceased son, a general show of respect for just about everyone, and an honest, although self-congratulatory recitation of Biden's place in history. There is very little artifice here. It almost feels like Biden is incapable of telling lies. He may be wrong at times about his role, or the honest lack of impact that a vice-president has on the national and international scene, but he seems so honest and clear that it almost can be boring. It's hard to imagine that a politico could have served decades in the Senate and come through that terrible gauntlet and still be such a calm, clear-headed person as the one depicted in the book. Where are your backroom deals? Where the LBJ inspired manipulations and poker pays? Did you not dislike anyone or engage in some real mean-spirited banner? It would have been nice to know more about Biden's early career, but I do believe there is another, earlier, book. So I cannot cast stones when I may be aiming at a misguided target. There is a smattering of politics here, a lot about familial dedication and a ton about a family that seems to in synch with its moving parts that it feels a bit like a 50's sitcom. Are there still American families Iike this? If so, good for us all. The book reads easily, never really captures your interest, although it does try to tug at your heart. There is good and bad over the fact that the narrator is Biden himself. Good, is that he is the man, he wrote the book. He owns it, had a prominent role in the inner sanctum of Obama's presidency and he deserves to read it. The bad is that Biden is simply not a great reader. Maybe his speeches are actually better, but the timbre and cadence of his voice is just a bit on the flat side. Now just a bit about the man. Presented by himself, Biden appears to be simply a great guy. Good husband, excellent father, measured and thoughtful and sincere. Tragedy struck once in his life (the death of his first wife and baby daughter in a car crash when he was young) and the vagaries of life in a second terrible family illness (the death by cancer of his eldest son) And he may have made a cataclysmic mistake in not running for president in 2016. From how he explains it, he made the only and best decision he could. I wonder if he regrets it now, although he would never admit.