Promise Me, Dad
In November 2014, thirteen members of the Biden family gathered on Nantucket for Thanksgiving, a tradition they had been celebrating for the past forty years; it was the one constant in what had become a hectic, scrutinized, and overscheduled life. The Thanksgiving holiday was a time to connect, a time to reflect on what the year had brought, and what the future might hold. But this year felt different from all those that had come before. Joe and Jill Biden's eldest son, Beau, had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor fifteen months earlier, and his survival was uncertain. "Promise me, Dad," Beau had told his father. "Give me your word that no matter what happens, you’re going to be all right." Joe Biden gave him his word.
Promise Me, Dad chronicles the year that followed, which would be the most momentous and challenging in Joe Biden’s extraordinary life and career. Vice President Biden traveled more than a hundred thousand miles that year, across the world, dealing with crises in Ukraine, Central America, and Iraq. When a call came from New York, or Capitol Hill, or Kyiv, or Baghdad—“Joe, I need your help”—he responded. For twelve months, while Beau fought for and then lost his life, the vice president balanced the twin imperatives of living up to his responsibilities to his country and his responsibilities to his family. And never far away was the insistent and urgent question of whether he should seek the presidency in 2016.
The year brought real triumph and accomplishment, and wrenching pain. But even in the worst times, Biden was able to lean on the strength of his long, deep bonds with his family, on his faith, and on his deepening friendship with the man in the Oval Office, Barack Obama.
Writing with poignancy and immediacy, Joe Biden allows readers to feel the urgency of each moment, to experience the days when he felt unable to move forward as well as the days when he felt like he could not afford to stop.
This is a book written not just by the vice president, but by a father, grandfather, friend, and husband. Promise Me, Dad is a story of how family and friendships sustain us and how hope, purpose, and action can guide us through the pain of personal loss into the light of a new future.
In the media
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...These flashes of vulnerability are part of what makes Promise Me, Dad memorable; so, too, are the small, tender interactions between Biden and his dying son.
The New York Times
Biden splices a heartbreaking story with an election story and a foreign affairs story. And in so doing, he offers something for everyone, no matter which strand draws you in.
The New York Times Book Review
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.
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. 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.