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

Scribner. Oct. 2020. 192p. ISBN 9781982174026. $23. BIOG
Osnos (Age of Ambition), a staff writer for The New Yorker since 2008, offers a breezy account of Joe Biden’s life and politics, culled from the author’s magazine pieces covering the 2020 campaign and more than 100 interviews, including four with Biden. The book does not go into much depth about Biden’s early life but includes insight into how tragedies—his first wife’s and infant daughter’s 1972 death in a car accident and his son Beau’s 2015 death from brain cancer—instilled within Biden a sense of empathy that enables him to relate to those suffering adversities. More attention is devoted to Biden’s political life: his moderate Senate record, which allowed him to forge compromises with Republicans, and his relationship with President Obama who involved Vice President Biden in important decisions, especially foreign policy issues. Osnos concludes with a potential look at a Biden presidency in a highly charged environment where bipartisanship is deemed a show of weakness. Biden would likely use executive orders to reinstate the United States in the World Health Organization and the Paris Climate Accord, and would make the COVID-19 pandemic his top priority.
VERDICT This useful account will help readers understand Biden’s mindset and suggests a blueprint for the next four years. For more in-depth, but pre–2020 campaign accounts, see Steven Levingston’s Barack And Joe and Jules Witcover’s Joe Biden.
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