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Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose

Review

Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose

A promise between then-Vice President Joe Biden and his oldest son, Beau, during their family Thanksgiving on Nantucket in 2014 provides the title for this deeply affecting memoir. Beau, the second-term attorney general of Delaware, was fighting an uphill battle with brain cancer, and he needed assurance that no matter what happened to him, his father would be all right. Biden's first wife and baby daughter died in a horrific car accident in 1972 when Beau and younger brother Hunter were preschoolers. The family had always been tight and found strength and courage in their closeness.

PROMISE ME, DAD revolves around Beau's courageous effort to beat the cancer and how his entire family loved and supported him. Much cross-country travel was required since Beau received treatment in various hospitals, and bedside vigils became a way of life. The book also focuses on Biden's career during this difficult time. Always in the background was the nagging question: Should he run?

"A promise between then-Vice President Joe Biden and his oldest son, Beau, during their family Thanksgiving on Nantucket in 2014 provides the title for this deeply affecting memoir."

As head of the family, Biden realized that they all looked to him for guidance. No matter how worried or discouraged he felt about Beau's condition, he put on his game face, encouraging both Beau and other members of his family to remain strong and hopeful. And there were times when the tables were turned, and Beau was trying to lift his father’s spirits: "It's all good, Dad."

In the midst of this ongoing family crisis, Biden's numerous responsibilities as Vice President demanded attention as well. He soldiered on, staying involved in and committed to the areas of concern that President Obama entrusted to him. He traveled, made countless speeches and appearances, and used his considerable diplomatic skills while dealing with problems in Ukraine and other hot spots.

Biden had the ongoing burden of making a possible life-changing decision: Should he throw his hat in the ring and run for President? Could he drag his family into the high-profile publicity and relentless attention that a national campaign would certainly entail? If he waited too long to commit, would he miss a golden opportunity? Beau certainly wanted him to run. His loved ones knew he could wage an excellent campaign, but was this the appropriate time? The unanswered question nagged at him, and pressure mounted --- even after Beau's death --- for him to announce his candidacy.

Of course, we know he chose not to run. He was still grieving for Beau. And it turned out to be a brutally nasty campaign. Had he run, this affable, down-to-earth man might have changed the course of history. Or perhaps not. We will never know.

Reviewed by Carole Turner on December 1, 2017

Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose
by Joe Biden

  • Publication Date: November 14, 2017
  • Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction, Politics
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Flatiron Books
  • ISBN-10: 1250171679
  • ISBN-13: 9781250171672