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Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now

Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now

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Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now

ratings:
2.5/5 (77 ratings)
Length:
151 pages
2 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Oct 6, 2020
ISBN:
9781982174095
Format:
Book

Description

A FINANCIAL TIMES BEST BOOK OF 2020

A concise, brilliant, and trenchant examination of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s successful lifelong quest for the presidency by National Book Award winner Evan Osnos.

President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has been called both the luckiest man and the unluckiest—fortunate to have sustained a fifty-year political career that reached the White House, but also marked by deep personal losses and disappointments that he has suffered.

Yet even as Biden’s life has been shaped by drama, it has also been powered by a willingness, rare at the top ranks of politics, to confront his shortcomings, errors, and reversals of fortune. As he says, “Failure at some point in your life is inevitable, but giving up is unforgivable.” His trials have forged in him a deep empathy for others in hardship—an essential quality as he leads America toward recovery and renewal.

Blending up-close journalism and broader context, Evan Osnos, who won the National Book Award in 2014, draws on nearly a decade of reporting for The New Yorker to capture the characters and meaning of 2020’s extraordinary presidential election. It is based on lengthy interviews with Biden and on revealing conversations with more than a hundred others, including President Barack Obama, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, and a range of activists, advisers, opponents, and Biden family members.

This portrayal illuminates Biden’s long and eventful career in the Senate, his eight years as Obama’s vice president, his sojourn in the political wilderness after being passed over for Hillary Clinton in 2016, his decision to challenge Donald Trump for the presidency, and his choice of Vice President Kamala Harris as his running mate.

Osnos ponders the difficulties Biden faces as his presidency begins and weighs how a changing country, a deep well of experiences, and a rigorous approach to the issues, have altered his positions. In this nuanced portrait, Biden emerges as flawed, yet resolute, and tempered by the flame of tragedy—a man who just may be uncannily suited for his moment in history.
Publisher:
Released:
Oct 6, 2020
ISBN:
9781982174095
Format:
Book

About the author

Evan Osnos is a staff writer at The New Yorker, a CNN contributor, and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Based in Washington D.C., he writes about politics and foreign affairs. He was the China Correspondent at The New Yorker from 2008 to 2013. His first book, Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China, won the 2014 National Book award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. In 2020, he published the international bestseller, Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now, based on interviews with Biden, Barack Obama, and others. Prior to The New Yorker, Osnos worked as the Beijing bureau chief of the Chicago Tribune, where he contributed to a series that won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. Before his appointment in China, he worked in the Middle East, reporting mostly from Iraq. He and his wife, Sarabeth Berman, have two children.


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Inside the book

Top quotes

  • I’m a seventyseven-year-old white man, who was a senator for thirty years, and I understand both those limitations and the nature of this country.’ Because, no matter what he does, he cannot completely understand the frustration of people in the streets.

  • Biden believed that Trump’s failures of leadership, particularly in the pandemic, had become clear even to steadfast Republican advocates. “Everybody knows, even people supporting him: this is all about his self-interest. It’s all about him,” he told me.

  • Republicans had long accused Democrats of plotting to smuggle socialism into the United States. But leveling that charge against Biden, whose career had been distinguished mostly by careful centrism, was an awkward task.

  • In 2018, Trump flew to Wisconsin, promising what he called the “eighth wonder of the world”—a factory to be built for Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics company. “Foxconn barely built anything in Wisconsin,” Popkin said.

  • If you have more union members, Democrats will do better. You can see that among white voters: white union voters voted for Clinton, whereas white nonunion voters voted overwhelmingly for Trump.

Book Preview

Joe Biden - Evan Osnos

Lear

Prologue

February 12, 1988

A forty-five-year-old man—white male, father of three—awoke on the floor of his hotel room. He had been unconscious for five hours. He could barely move his legs. He did not know how he got there. He remembered only a flash of agony; he had given a speech in Rochester, New York, and returned to his room, where he felt a sensation akin to a cleaver parting his skull. For months, he had ignored a strange ache in his head and neck, burying it in Tylenol, blaming it on the ludicrous rigor of running for president while heading the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate. The campaign had ended in embarrassment—a product of his own arrogance, he admitted to himself—but the headaches had continued.

The man heaved himself onto the bed. From there, his assistant got him to a plane to Delaware, where doctors identified a cranial aneurysm, the ballooning of an artery that fed the brain. His prospects for survival were so grim that a priest was summoned to deliver last rites, even before the man’s wife could be there. In the hours that followed, he was rushed through the slanting snow of a storm to Washington, D.C., where a surgeon warned that the operation might rob him of the ability to speak. I kind of wish that had happened last summer, the man replied.

For three months, through more surgery, more complications, he was supine, confined to a hospital bed. Oddly enough, his failure in the presidential campaign had probably saved his life. Had he stayed on the road, crisscrossing New Hampshire and ignoring his symptoms, he might not be there at all. In the depth of his ordeal, a doctor turned to him and said he was a lucky man. Seven months passed before the man could get back up and return to work. He told the first crowd he saw that he had been given a second chance in life.

More than thirty years after Joe Biden nearly died on his back, the moment is often lost amid the official milestones of his political biography. But that instant contains the defining pattern of his life—a journey of improbable turns, some spectacularly fortunate and others almost inconceivably cruel. Biden’s ambition to reach the highest rungs of American power has driven his rise for more than five decades. When he was barely out of his teens, the mother of a girlfriend (later, his first wife, Neilia Hunter) asked about his professional goals. President, Biden said, and added, of the United States.

His political career placed him at pivotal moments of modern American history, including some of the nation’s defining conflicts around race, gender, crime, health, capitalism, and warfare. He made mistakes, explained himself, and paid a price. Time and again, he defied predictions that he was finished—only to find himself, to his astonishment, beside Barack Obama, in a historic run for the White House. In his speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, he said, Failure at some point in your life is inevitable, but giving up is unforgivable.

In the vice presidency—the most maligned job in Washington—Biden often projected the look of a man who couldn’t quite believe his good fortune. The trials of his life had relieved him of some solemn self-regard. A British minister once asked him, in a private meeting, for the protocol in addressing one another. Biden gave a theatrical glance to either side, and said, It looks like we’re alone, so why don’t you call me Mr. President and I’ll call you Mr. Prime Minister.

By 2020, he was a political veteran marked by so many years and battles that his opponents, and even some of his admirers, questioned the wisdom of yet one more race. And, then, he foiled the predictions once more, emerging as the Democratic nominee for president in a showdown of such grave implication for America’s future that it made a mockery of the usual clichés about the most important election in our lifetime. He was in a one-on-one contest against Donald Trump for an office that was losing its stature as the leader of the free world.

The circumstances of a life in full and a country in peril conspired to put Joe Biden at the center of an American reckoning, prompting an urgent appetite, at home and abroad, to divine what had made him, how he thought, what he carried, and what he lacked. At the very moment that his country was lying spread-eagled before the eyes of the world, Biden had arrived at his season of history.

CHAPTER 1

Annus Horribilis

The lush, well-to-do Wilmington suburbs, in the rolling woods of the Brandywine Valley, are popular with heirs to the chemical fortune of the du Pont family. Their estates and gardens are tucked away in what is known as Delaware’s Chateau Country. On a modest patch, by those standards, Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, live on four sloping acres that overlook a small lake.

On the ninety-ninth day before the election, I pulled into Biden’s driveway. To avoid contagion, his advisers put me in a carriage house, a hundred yards from the home where the family lives. Welcome to my mom’s house, Biden called from the bottom of the stairs, an instant before his sweep of white hair rose into view. He reached the second floor of the cottage. He wore a trim blue dress shirt, sleeves rolled to the elbows, a pen tucked between the buttons, and a bright-white N95 mask.

Biden was three weeks away from becoming America’s Democratic nominee for president. The headline on the front page of The Washington Post that morning was America’s Standing in the World Is at a Low Ebb. The death toll from the coronavirus pandemic was approaching 150,000, three times as many lives as America lost in Vietnam; the economy had crumbled faster than at any other time in the nation’s history; in Portland, Oregon, federal agents in unmarked uniforms were tear-gassing protesters, whom Donald Trump called sick and deranged Anarchists & Agitators. On Twitter that day, Trump warned that the demonstrators would destroy our American cities, and worse, if Sleepy Joe Biden, the puppet of the Left, ever won. Markets would crash and cities would burn.

The man who stood between Americans and four more years of Trump looked pleased to have company. In the strange summer of 2020, the Biden place was as solemn and secluded as an abbey. The cottage, styled in Celtic themes (green shutters, a thistle pattern on the throw pillows), doubled as a command post for the Secret Service, and large men with holstered guns stalked in and out. Biden settled into an armchair across the room from me and splayed his hands, a socially distanced salute. The docs keep it really tight, he explained.

Later that afternoon, the Bidens were due on Capitol Hill, to pay their respects to the recently deceased John Lewis, of Georgia, a civil rights icon who endured a fractured skull at the hands of state troopers in Selma, Alabama, before rising to the House of Representatives and becoming known as the conscience of Congress. It would be a rare excursion. Since the Covid-19 shutdown began, in March, Biden had circulated mostly between his back porch, where he convened fund-raisers on Zoom, a gym upstairs, and the basement rec room, where he sat for TV interviews in front of a bookcase and a folded flag. The campaign apparatus had scattered into the homes of some twenty-three hundred employees.

Before I could ask a question, he explained the origins of the cottage. When his father, Joe Sr., fell ill, in 2002, Biden renovated the basement of the main house and moved his parents in. God love him, he lasted for about six months, he said. I thought my mom would stay. She had other ideas. (Biden’s late mother, the former Jean Finnegan, plays a formidable role in his recounting of family history. In grammar school, he recalls, a nun mocked him for stuttering, and his mother, a devout Catholic, told her, If you ever speak to my son like that again, I’ll come back and rip that bonnet off your head.)

After Jean became a widow, Biden said, she offered him a proposition: She said, ‘Joey, if you build me a house, I’ll move in here.’ I said, ‘Honey, I don’t have the money to build you a house.’ She said, ‘I know you don’t.’ She said, ‘But I talked to your brothers and sister. Sell my house and build me an apartment.’ For years, Biden, who relied on his government salary, was among the least prosperous members of the United States Senate. (In the two years after he left the vice presidency, the Bidens earned more than $15 million, from speeches, teaching, and book deals.) Biden renovated an old garage and his mother moved in. I’d walk in and she’d be in that chair downstairs, facing the fireplace, watching television, he said. There’d always be a caregiver on the stool, and she’d be hearing her confession.

Joe Biden has been a public man, as he puts it—holding office, giving interviews, dispensing anecdotes—for five decades. I last interviewed him, mostly about foreign affairs, in 2014, when he was in the White House and Donald Trump was hosting Season 14 of The Apprentice. Biden is seventy-seven years old, and he looks thinner than he did six years ago, but not markedly so. He has parted with youth grudgingly. His smile has been rejuvenated to such a gleam that it inspired a popular tweet during the 2012 campaign: Biden’s teeth are so white they’re voting for Romney. His hairline has been reforested, his forehead appears becalmed, and Biden generally projects the glow of a grandfather just back from the gym, which is often the case. His verbiage is as meandering as ever. James Comey, the former FBI director, once wrote that the typical Biden conversation originated in Direction A before heading in Direction Z. (In December 2019, Biden’s campaign released a doctor’s summary of his medical records, which pronounced him a healthy, vigorous man of his age.)

The implications of age, in one form or another, hovered over the presidential race. Trump took office as the oldest president in history. By the summer of 2020, he was seventy-four. To deflect questions about his mental acuity, he and his allies presented Biden as senile, a theme that dominated right-wing TV and Twitter. Biden saw little of it; he didn’t look at social media. (Compared to Trump, Biden’s campaign made only perfunctory use of it. Trump had over 114 million combined followers on Twitter and Facebook; Biden has less than ten million.)

If there is something big, his staff included a tweet in the morning roundup of news that he read on his phone. But, he said, I don’t look at a lot of the comments. I spend the time trying to focus on the trouble people are in right now.

By the end of August, ten weeks before the election, Biden led Trump by an average of at least 8 percentage points. But no earthly inhabitant expected an ordinary end to the campaign. Some polls showed the race tightening, and it could be transformed by a sudden jolt in the economy or in Congress or the Supreme Court. I feel good about where we are, Biden said. But I know that it’s going to get really, really ugly. As Trump disputed the legitimacy of mail-in voting, his postmaster general was brazenly cutting service in ways that could prevent ballots from being counted. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the oldest Supreme Court justice, had recently begun chemotherapy, raising the prospects of a bitter partisan fight over a successor. Republican operatives were helping Kanye West, the pro-Trump hip-hop

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Reviews

What people think about Joe Biden

2.4
77 ratings / 18 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (1/5)

    5 people found this helpful

    Yay for organized crime and selling people out which is all politicians are good for. Maybe sloppy joe and kamala will prosecute and imprison more black people like they did in the 90's.

    5 people found this helpful

  • (1/5)

    3 people found this helpful

    China Joe, the greatest grifter, thief, scumbag liar of nearly all time. And just look at that fine man he raised - a paeodiphile, drug addict and international thief that has access to the White House with his daddy. Sick family. We should all be terrified. He's a puppet for something far more powerful than he is.

    3 people found this helpful

  • (1/5)

    7 people found this helpful

    I was looking for the parts where he collects his payments from the Chinese and Burisma via his bagman, Hunter, and where he falls up the stairway, forgets where he is and what he's talking about and so on, but they are nowhere to be found.

    7 people found this helpful

  • (1/5)

    11 people found this helpful

    Terrible, corrupted, & the portal of evil! Radical Leftist. CCP puppet. Sleepy Hobo Joe Biden, king of the Deep State Swamp Creatures! Nope! Not even going to attempt at the horrific gas lighting, brain washing complete load of Democratic Dog CRAP!! Waste of time if you read this. Whoever wrote this has pockets lined with the CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY DIRTY MONEY! If you read this, you need to pull your head out of your ass and wake up to a red pill and stop watching CNN & NBC & posting your libtard lefty opinions on fakebook and twatt-er. Where’s Hunter?! Read the declassified pile of sickening pediafile child trafficking adrenochrome satanic worshipping elite demonic Clinton Obama Stupid green new deal fake news election fraud false flagging crime coverups elite cabals global banking system money printing and laundering fake phony propaganda falsehood! Trump 2020! How do I get that dumb book off the top of my book recommendations?! Sick of seeing joes stupid face!

    11 people found this helpful

  • (1/5)

    13 people found this helpful

    I tried. I really did. But this person is so useless and so “close to” corruption that denying he is in it is like denying you get wet jumping in puddles. Trying to glorify rather than be honest, put this one down. Move on.

    13 people found this helpful

  • (1/5)

    8 people found this helpful

    A flawed human who has failed his way to the top. This book is a fan letter to the worst president this country will ever have.

    8 people found this helpful

  • (1/5)

    13 people found this helpful

    Horrible. Not worth the read. Political propaganda to make him look good.

    13 people found this helpful

  • (1/5)

    8 people found this helpful

    He has to admit that Trump had good foreign policy and a good economics policy bit he won't he is a pushover

    8 people found this helpful

  • (1/5)

    8 people found this helpful

    Pathetic Grifter in Chief. What a cartload of tripe! Come on man!

    8 people found this helpful

  • (4/5)

    9 people found this helpful

    Wow. These other reviews are probably written by bots or people who didn't read the book.

    I did happen to read the entire book, and so will write an actual review.


    It is not written by Joe Biden nor is the book from his viewpoint. The book is a series of interviews with various people, primarily the subject, that cover from about Joe's start in the political sector to maybe the middle of the 2020 election.
    I think it does paint Joe in a more positive light than could be considered to be completely objective, but I think it does a pretty good job of showing some of his faults. Besides, Joe isn't going to say anything bad about himself. And who is going to say negative things about the president-elect?

    For me, I felt like the book explains more about Joe's voting record and actions (or inaction) taken during his political career. Since reading the book, I understand a bit more about him and his process. I feel like he's more human now and not just another politician on television.

    I thought the book was well written and certainly worth a read if you are interested in learning more about Joe. It does a good job of keeping the reader interested and doesn't get super bogged down in any particular areas.
    You might not come away liking the guy any more or less than you already do, but I think you'll come away with a respect and understanding that can hopefully give you more insight into his character and his positions.

    9 people found this helpful

  • (1/5)

    11 people found this helpful

    Not going to happen! Biggest criminal voter fraud EVER and the END of America if we let it pass. #Trump2020
    #SilentNoMore

    11 people found this helpful

  • (5/5)

    2 people found this helpful

    Inspiring! So glad this man is president instead of Donald Trump.

    2 people found this helpful

  • (5/5)
    A man who sees the world beyond himself values mankind, willing to carry the weight of the world, capable of forgiving, shares his knowledge with those willing to listen, committed to serving as a Christan and an American. The real Deal.
  • (5/5)

    3 people found this helpful

    Beautiful book. god bless joe for returning America to real greatness unlike the fake grifter and loser we had in there. Congrats, Joe. WE LOVE YOU!

    3 people found this helpful

  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    A very good book for people who want to enter the world of politics
    tanks


    https://ariaimen.com/video-door-phone/irani/taba-video-opener

    1 person found this helpful

  • (5/5)
    Whew, it was close in Wonderland, thank goodness the Chesire Cat has left the executive office. Huxley was exercising extreme prescient in writing Trump's autobiographical "presidential" governing of this Brave New World some 70 years ago.
  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Amazing, inspiring and beautiful. May the God bless President Biden.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (3/5)
    Congratz Joe Biden ! U will do some great job for America !

    https://www.fgirl.ch/