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“Nearly forty years after I first got involved, I remain captivated by the possibilities of politics and public service. In fact, I believe that my chosen profession is a noble calling. That’s why I wanted to be a part of it.” –Joe Biden As a United States senator from Delaware since 1973, Joe Biden has been an intimate witness to the major events of the past four decades an “Nearly forty years after I first got involved, I remain captivated by the possibilities of politics and public service. In fact, I believe that my chosen profession is a noble calling. That’s why I wanted to be a part of it.” –Joe Biden As a United States senator from Delaware since 1973, Joe Biden has been an intimate witness to the major events of the past four decades and a relentless actor in trying to shape recent American history. He has seen up close the tragic mistake of the Vietnam War, the Watergate and Iran-contra scandals, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany, the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, a presidential impeachment, a presidential resignation, and a presidential election decided by the Supreme Court. He’s observed Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and two Bushes wrestling with the presidency; he’s traveled to war zones in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa and seen firsthand the devastation of genocide. He played a vital role by standing up to Ronald Reagan’s effort to seat Judge Robert Bork on the Supreme Court, fighting for legislation that protects women against domestic violence, and galvanizing America’s response (and the world’s) to Slobodan Milosevic’s genocidal march in the Balkans. In Promises to Keep, Biden reveals what these experiences taught him about himself, his colleagues, and the institutions of government. With his customary candor, Biden movingly recounts growing up in a staunchly Catholic multigenerational household in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington, Delaware; overcoming a demoralizing stutter; marriage, fatherhood, and the tragic death of his wife Neilia and infant daughter Naomi; remarriage and re-forming a family with his second wife, Jill; success and failure in the Senate and on the campaign trail; two life-threatening aneurysms; his relations with fellow lawmakers on both sides of the aisle; and his leadership of powerful Senate committees. Through these and other recollections, Biden shows us how the guiding principles he learned early in life–the obligation to work to make people’s lives better, to honor family and faith, to get up and do the right thing no matter how hard you’ve been knocked down, to be honest and straightforward, and, above all, to keep your promises–are the foundations on which he has based his life’s work as husband, father, and public servant. Promises to Keep is the story of a man who faced down personal challenges and tragedy to become one of our most effective leaders. It is also an intimate series of reflections from a public servant who refuses to be cynical about political leadership, and a testament to the promise of the United States.


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“Nearly forty years after I first got involved, I remain captivated by the possibilities of politics and public service. In fact, I believe that my chosen profession is a noble calling. That’s why I wanted to be a part of it.” –Joe Biden As a United States senator from Delaware since 1973, Joe Biden has been an intimate witness to the major events of the past four decades an “Nearly forty years after I first got involved, I remain captivated by the possibilities of politics and public service. In fact, I believe that my chosen profession is a noble calling. That’s why I wanted to be a part of it.” –Joe Biden As a United States senator from Delaware since 1973, Joe Biden has been an intimate witness to the major events of the past four decades and a relentless actor in trying to shape recent American history. He has seen up close the tragic mistake of the Vietnam War, the Watergate and Iran-contra scandals, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany, the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, a presidential impeachment, a presidential resignation, and a presidential election decided by the Supreme Court. He’s observed Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and two Bushes wrestling with the presidency; he’s traveled to war zones in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa and seen firsthand the devastation of genocide. He played a vital role by standing up to Ronald Reagan’s effort to seat Judge Robert Bork on the Supreme Court, fighting for legislation that protects women against domestic violence, and galvanizing America’s response (and the world’s) to Slobodan Milosevic’s genocidal march in the Balkans. In Promises to Keep, Biden reveals what these experiences taught him about himself, his colleagues, and the institutions of government. With his customary candor, Biden movingly recounts growing up in a staunchly Catholic multigenerational household in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington, Delaware; overcoming a demoralizing stutter; marriage, fatherhood, and the tragic death of his wife Neilia and infant daughter Naomi; remarriage and re-forming a family with his second wife, Jill; success and failure in the Senate and on the campaign trail; two life-threatening aneurysms; his relations with fellow lawmakers on both sides of the aisle; and his leadership of powerful Senate committees. Through these and other recollections, Biden shows us how the guiding principles he learned early in life–the obligation to work to make people’s lives better, to honor family and faith, to get up and do the right thing no matter how hard you’ve been knocked down, to be honest and straightforward, and, above all, to keep your promises–are the foundations on which he has based his life’s work as husband, father, and public servant. Promises to Keep is the story of a man who faced down personal challenges and tragedy to become one of our most effective leaders. It is also an intimate series of reflections from a public servant who refuses to be cynical about political leadership, and a testament to the promise of the United States.

30 review for Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics

  1. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Having read a number of great political books a few months ago while the US election approached, I took a little time to get to know the Democratic nominee, Joe Biden. After the race and the formal acceptance of the results by the majority of the electorate, Electoral College, and congressional members (even with an attempted coup by the Whiner-in-Chief), I wanted to hear more from the man himself. I remembered that he had penned a memoir of sorts ahead of his 2008 run for president and thought Having read a number of great political books a few months ago while the US election approached, I took a little time to get to know the Democratic nominee, Joe Biden. After the race and the formal acceptance of the results by the majority of the electorate, Electoral College, and congressional members (even with an attempted coup by the Whiner-in-Chief), I wanted to hear more from the man himself. I remembered that he had penned a memoir of sorts ahead of his 2008 run for president and thought it would be great to take some time hearing Biden talk about his life. With President’s Day just around the corner, I chose three men who have ascended to the position. Reading their biographies/memoirs, I felt it would let me know a bit more about them. This book is the second of three and I could not wait to sink my teeth in the story of Joe Biden as told by the man himself. With great vignettes and a frank admission to not being perfect, Biden shares his highs and lows over a storied career as a little guy from Delaware who saw a chance to make a difference in Washington. Biden’s time as a senator, where this book ends, was electrifying, and those who have followed him up to the present will know the difference he made post-2008 as well. So, let’s get to the heart of the matter and learn about a man who knows the hard work needed to keep America on track and watch as he cleans up the mess left to him. America has always been great, even if it took a four year hiatus and handed the reins of power to a man drunk on power and fuelled by 280 character decrees. Biden opens the discussion about his birth in 1942, the eldest son of two great parents. Living those years in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. developed strong connections to others while solidifying an Irish Catholicism like no other. When the family was forced to relocate to Delaware for the elder Biden’s work, young Joey had to reinvent himself. As the narrative advances, Biden touches on his adolescent and young adulthood, where a strong social life and penchant for girls became the core items on the agenda, though he never forgot his family. Joe Biden was the first to attend college, which brought great pride and some trepidation to the family, though they supported him along the way. Having overcome a strong stutter, Biden knew the importance of overcoming adversity and looked a challenge in the eye whenever it crossed his path. Biden recounts a short holiday he took while in college where he met the woman who be his wife, making it clear that was the woman of his dreams. Biden and Neilia Hunter were inseparable after that jaunt to the Caribbean, so much so that Joe chose Syracuse (New York) for his legal studies. While never at the top of his class, Biden remembers his happiness with Neilia and how they grew closer throughout that time. After Biden and Neilia returned to Delaware, they began to set up some roots. Biden was fresh out of law school, but still trying to define himself. He soon discovered that politics ran through the state and the law was no exception. While he was an ardent Democrat, some of those who supported the GOP had their own agenda. This did not jive with the Biden view of helping the ‘little guy’, so Joe Biden hung out his own shingle and found a niche in local politics when time allowed. The Bidens started their family around this time and Joe made repeated mention of the importance of his own roots. The Bidens had two boys in quick succession, Beau and Hunter, as Joe eyed the next hurdle to overcome, national office. While Delaware had pockets of support for both parties, Biden knew that the long-serving US Senator Cale Boggs was a Goliath who could not be stopped. A favourite within the GOP, both at the state and national level, Boggs seemed unstoppable. This did not deter Biden from deciding that he would do all he could in 1972 to create a name for himself. After a number of coffee events, Biden toured the state, speaking about how he could make a difference for Delaware in DC. Biden offers a great build up in the narrative and shows how grit can lead to success, beating Boggs in that race and became a US senator at age twenty-nine. While not yet the constitutional age to serve, Biden would come of age later in November and became the second youngest man ever to win a Senate seat. Preparing to serve, Biden made arrangements to relocate for his next big life experience. News came one December night of a tragic accident, in which Neilia and their new baby, Naomi, were killed. Biden spends some time describing this horrible moment in his life, now a widower and single father. There was no waffling, Biden would quit the Senate before he’d even served and tend to his family. Biden struggled greatly with the loss, though he received some sage advice and the support he needed, from family and Senate colleagues alike. With some sacrifices by everyone, Joe Biden eventually agreed to represent Delaware in Congress, citing his sons as a mitigating factor. Biden used his first term in the Senate not only to learn, but also to shape policy. Some in the Chamber did not appreciate this approach, but they respected the feisty side of the man who knew no other way of living. Biden honed his passion for civil rights to challenge Senate stalwarts and soon endorsed the Georgia governor, Jimmy Carter, as the 1976 Democratic candidate for president. Biden was making a national name for himself, but also found himself drawn to former model Jill Jacobs, a woman with no love of politics. Their long and drawn-out courtship led to marriage in 1977, at the insistence of Beau and Hunter. Biden compacts much of his early Senate years into some short vignettes, though there was no lack of national spotlight shone on him. Biden was often talked about as a potential presidential candidate, but declined in 1980 and ‘84, citing his young family. However, he thought that 1988 might be his year. Biden tossed his hat into the ring and began the arduous task of campaigning during the spring of 1987. Biden soon found himself in the ‘big leagues’, where nothing was off limits. Biden admitted that he was spread too thin, serving on a controversial Senate Judiciary Committee as its chairman, while also forced to defend a plagiarism gaffe that would plague him throughout the campaign. Biden admits that he was not prepared for either the Bork Supreme Court fight or the battle to clear his name as a free-spirited academic in law school. Both weighed him down and the narrative explores not only the intensity that both situations caused, but also the strain on his body. Biden made national headlines for less than glamorous reasons and ended up having a stroke, which debilitated him for months. Without the support of his family, Biden may not have made it. Biden spent the early 1990s focussed on his work with the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. He sought to help make America a role model on the world scene, working with both Presidents Bush (41) and Clinton to carve out a niche for the sole superpower to lead the path towards freedom and democracy. Biden took countless trips to war-torn areas and had meetings with some world leaders who could not espouse similar values, all in an effort to bring about change. While Biden does not outrightly say it, this helped develop his skills as a statesman. The book solidifies a foundation for this at length and shows how Biden added to his already long resume for another run for the White House. With the election of Bush 43 came a new America, emerging in a post-September 11th world. Biden was forced to stand firm and develop a friendship with a president who surrounded himself with two diametrically opposed camps, one wanting to instil peace and the other trying to exert authority. Biden discusses actors from both camps and offers his opinions on their insights. This is surely to prepare a plank for his 2008 run, while also being open about his sentiments, both as an American and a statesman. Biden and many of his Senate colleagues found themselves led down the garden path by the George W. Bush Administration, finding Afghanistan and Iraq wars as yokes around their necks. This was the basis for Biden’s choice to run again, as he had promises to keep with his family, as well as America. I entered this piece after having seen the end result of the 2020 campaign, one where new highs and lows made themselves known. Those reading this review long after I penned it may need to look to the history books to see what I mean, but many will never forget January 6, 2021 and the culmination of a four year period of political and social darkness. Earlier in 2020, I read a stunning biography of Joe Biden and hoped that some of those stories would be hashed out in this piece as well. I needed another meaty and educational piece about Joe Biden. I got that and more as Biden placed me in the middle of his life, highlighting much of what he had accomplished. While the journey was significant, the book makes it flow while remaining comprehensive and detailed. The stories provide the reader with needed insight to understand the politics and passion of the man. I have no doubt that Joe Biden loves his country and his family. This is no fluff piece, though it is surely something published to help pave the way for the 2008 campaign. Whether Biden wrote it or someone else took the reins is irrelevant, as it gets to the core issues. While detailed exploration of the man and how he sought to grow over his more than forty years of public service proves to be the undertone, it is presented in well-paced chapters and is relatable for the layperson to understand, enjoying the tangents along the way. I cannot say enough about Joe Biden, his views, and his passions, particularly as I look at the writing in 2021. America has a lot of healing to do and Joe Biden is here to help, even in the face of adversity and the residue of authoritarian pig-headedness. Kudos, Mr. Biden, for this wonderful piece that elucidates your views, your life, and your visions. Your sentiments in 2007 could not have prepared you for your time as president, but let’s hope you are up to the task. Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/ A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    My teenaged daughter raved about this book, the autobiography of former Vice President Joe Biden up to the point of his 2008 run for the presidency. She urged me to read it and I'm happy I did. Politically, I line up pretty well with Mr. Biden, so I didn't find a great deal to argue with in that area. And Biden tells his affecting and often moving life story with grace, self-deprecation, and, at times, courage. The tragedies and triumphs of his life are quite engaging stories, but I found most f My teenaged daughter raved about this book, the autobiography of former Vice President Joe Biden up to the point of his 2008 run for the presidency. She urged me to read it and I'm happy I did. Politically, I line up pretty well with Mr. Biden, so I didn't find a great deal to argue with in that area. And Biden tells his affecting and often moving life story with grace, self-deprecation, and, at times, courage. The tragedies and triumphs of his life are quite engaging stories, but I found most fascinating the details of his work on the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, the Balkan conflict of the 1990s, and his conflict with the Bush White House on the Iraq war. It's a fascinating story from any perspective.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jack Waters

    This guy wants you to suffer and he’ll yell at you to make sure you know everything is your fault. He also has the temerity to think that Delaware should be a state in the union.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Scott Rhee

    Okay, so Joe Biden did inspire some clever memes, and he certainly has the experience in Washington politics. Overall, he seems like a decent enough guy, if one is willing to overlook the allegations of sexual misconduct that is almost requisite for presidential candidates today. (https://www.businessinsider.com/joe-b...) Seriously, what the fuck, Joe? I didn’t want Biden to run in the first place. I certainly hoped and prayed that the Democratic party would pick someone else as their nominee, bu Okay, so Joe Biden did inspire some clever memes, and he certainly has the experience in Washington politics. Overall, he seems like a decent enough guy, if one is willing to overlook the allegations of sexual misconduct that is almost requisite for presidential candidates today. (https://www.businessinsider.com/joe-b...) Seriously, what the fuck, Joe? I didn’t want Biden to run in the first place. I certainly hoped and prayed that the Democratic party would pick someone else as their nominee, but that didn’t happen, so we’re stuck with him. I did, however, say, nearly a year ago, that I would vote for him if he was to be the Dem pick, because if it was a choice between Trump and ANYONE ELSE, I would vote for ANYONE ELSE. Sadly, that’s Biden. If you were, with all seriousness, to ask me how I could vote for a guy who has had eight women accuse him of sexual assault over the years, I would have to say, with all seriousness, that it pains me to do it, but it also pains me more with the thought of four more years of Trump, a guy who has had roughly 25 women accuse him of sexual assault and rape over the past fifty years. You can’t pick and choose your outrage, but you can, fortunately, pick your president. Biden and Trump may be cut from the same cloth, but I can’t take much more of Trump’s incompetence, complete lack of empathy, and frightening ability to bring our country, literally, to the brink of collapse. Allegations aside, Biden, at least, strikes me as being ten times more intelligent and weathered, politically, as Trump. (Unlike Trumpers, I consider that a good thing.) He also seems to have more human decency evident in his right toe than Trump has anywhere in his body. “Promises to Keep” is Biden’s 2007 campaign-platform-disguised-as-cheeky-memoir that nearly every politician that wants to run for president is required to write nowadays. It is, of course, full of the down-home bonhomie and avuncularity that one comes to expect from these books, genuine or not. Ghost-written by Mark Zwonitzer, “Promises to Keep” tells the story of a kid from a small town in middle America, who overcame adversity at a young age dealing with a severe speech impediment. He did okay in school, later becoming a lawyer. He married his college sweetheart and they had three beautiful kids. Tragedy struck when a car accident took the life of his wife and youngest child. Eventually, he overcame depression and dutifully held the position of Senator for the state of Delaware for almost 40 years. He remarried, ran unsuccessfully for president in 1988, ran again in 2008, and was picked by president-elect Barack Obama to be Vice-President, the office he held for eight years. So, I have never read Trump’s memoir “Trump: The Art of the Deal” (and, by all accounts, including the ghost-writer Tony Schwartz, neither did Trump), but I did read his 2015 book “Crippled America” (apparently re-released under the title “Great Again”), and it’s probably not a surprise that Biden’s book reads like Tolstoy compared to Trump, who writes and speaks at a fourth-grade level. Comparing writing skills may be petty, but as someone who values the written word and the English language, it’s kind of hard not to for me. Biden tells a pretty compelling story about his political journey, one that is fraught with some pretty awful human tragedy that he talks about with true emotion. It rings true anyway. Anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one will understand the grief he felt. That’s hard to fake. It’s hard to square the Biden that Trump supporters like to label as “demented” or “slow” with the intelligent and thoughtful Biden that he presents himself as in the book. “Sleepy Joe” just doesn’t seem to fit this guy. Of course, it’s also hard to square the Biden who fought hard for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994 as a way of strengthening existing domestic abuse laws for women, with the alleged sexual abuser that he has been accused of being by eight different women. (For that matter, it’s hard to square Clinton as the president who signed that bill into law, but that’s a whole other can of worms.) I understand that Biden’s view of himself may be vastly different than the view that his peers have of him, which is why I also plan on reading other books (perhaps less pro-Biden) that will help me to gauge a better, more objective, view of him. As it stands, though, I still plan on voting for Biden, and I’m okay with that decision.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tom Smeets

    Although I don't agree with J. Biden's political considerations, I found this book interesting. I learned more about his family / personal situation and his extensive experience in the Senate. The man has suffered more than anyone on average experiences in a lifetime. Certaintly a must read if you're more interested on his personal view. Although I don't agree with J. Biden's political considerations, I found this book interesting. I learned more about his family / personal situation and his extensive experience in the Senate. The man has suffered more than anyone on average experiences in a lifetime. Certaintly a must read if you're more interested on his personal view.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Erica Clou

    Presumably, Biden wrote this in preparation for his 2008 Presidential run. I'm not sure if my perspective would have been different if I read then, but it falls flat in 2019. Part of this is due to his candor, which I appreciate, but even so. He doesn't seem like warm and charming "Uncle Joe," but rather a kind of arrogant, aggressively ambitious person who ran for President in 1988, even when, back then, he had no particular reason to run other than he wanted to President. His politics are dist Presumably, Biden wrote this in preparation for his 2008 Presidential run. I'm not sure if my perspective would have been different if I read then, but it falls flat in 2019. Part of this is due to his candor, which I appreciate, but even so. He doesn't seem like warm and charming "Uncle Joe," but rather a kind of arrogant, aggressively ambitious person who ran for President in 1988, even when, back then, he had no particular reason to run other than he wanted to President. His politics are disturbingly centrist, or rather conservative by today's standards. I was horrified by his explanation of voting against bussing in 1974, and then - writing in 2007- he was more concerned that a bunch of elderly suburbanites had mistakenly thought he voted for bussing than being concerned that the rest of us might more accurately think he was a civil-rights-crushing Senator. Indeed, he expressed a lot of sympathy for people that repressed civil rights. Well, here in 2019, where we are witnessing a resurgence of racist language and legislation, these views seem gross and irresponsible at best. He also largely underplayed his pretty well-documented plagiarism in law school and on the 1987 campaign trail. He was either sloppy and lazy in his youth, or quite straight-forwardly dishonest, and neither is good. Obviously, that part is 30 years in the past, and he's potentially changed quite a bit since then, but also, maybe he hasn't?

  7. 4 out of 5

    Steve Garvin

    I enjoyed this book. It probably helps that I am a democrat and have voted twice for the Obama/Biden ticket. This book gave me hope again in politics. It can be a demanding, at times soul-wrenching, career. At the same time it provides a means to be of service to people that few other careers do. Joe Biden, like few others, has made a career of politics. He was first elected when he was not quite old enough to be sworn in--he was old enough when he actually was sworn in. He has been office since 1 I enjoyed this book. It probably helps that I am a democrat and have voted twice for the Obama/Biden ticket. This book gave me hope again in politics. It can be a demanding, at times soul-wrenching, career. At the same time it provides a means to be of service to people that few other careers do. Joe Biden, like few others, has made a career of politics. He was first elected when he was not quite old enough to be sworn in--he was old enough when he actually was sworn in. He has been office since 1973 and has been instrumental in both foreign affairs and the judicial committees. Biden is an example of someone who has risen to the highest levels of politics through will and determination. He came from humble beginnings and is set to make his mark in history. Whether you agree with his politics or not this is a good read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Corinne

    “you should not run for president because tactically you can win. The questions you have to ask are why you're running for president and what will you do when you are president. You shouldn't run until you know the answers to those questions.” Pros: 1. Learned a lot about Senate issues in modern history as they happened -Including some personalities of the Senate. I like how so many political memoirs have takes on Hubert Humphrey 2. Biden is a very personal writer, and his perspectives on his fami “you should not run for president because tactically you can win. The questions you have to ask are why you're running for president and what will you do when you are president. You shouldn't run until you know the answers to those questions.” Pros: 1. Learned a lot about Senate issues in modern history as they happened -Including some personalities of the Senate. I like how so many political memoirs have takes on Hubert Humphrey 2. Biden is a very personal writer, and his perspectives on his family and past were very detailed and even moving at some points. The emotion he managed to evoke when talking about his father quitting his job as a car salesman (due to the owner throwing buckets of silver dollars on the floor to watch his employees scramble for the cash) were impressive. But also, Biden wasn't even there or the incident, so maybe he's just good at retelling other people's stories. In the middle: I liked that he talked about his relationship with individuals across the aisles, and people in general with different perspectives from him. But also, you can’t say the reason you ran for Senate was due to Civil Rights (side note: earlier he said he ran on a suggestion and a whim and stuck with it because he felt he could win) and then never talk about your work to support black Americans, but casually mention how chill some segregationists were. I feel like Biden thought the reader, like the press throughout his career, would just know he was a good guy with good intentions, even when he didn’t work (in his own political memoir) to show us this. Cons 1. Biden’s long chapter of excuses and accusations regarding his past mistakes. It never felt like he owned any of them or copped to his shit. He was so annoyed about someone telling him things came easy to him (and yes, I get his life was struck with tragedy) but he definitely had a Teflon political life before Trump -Also the chapter felt endless- whether because of his attitude or because he had a long list of things to wave away 2. In general it didn’t feel genuine. Yes I’m aware it’s a political memoir, and an early one for him. But if your whole calling card is your unimpeachable character, your memoir should feel pretty genuine. Also, see quote above for 2020 thoughts. I still don’t think he has an answer.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    I didn't finish this book and won't get back to it anytime soon, so it seems unfair to rate it. From the standpoint of hooking my interest, the most compelling thing about this autobiography so far has been Joe Biden's killer smile on the cover. His world-famous personal warmth and charm doesn't come through in the writing, which seems stilted and unnatural. But maybe that's just me. I've been reading a lot about politics lately, and this year's election cycle has been highly entertaining. It ri I didn't finish this book and won't get back to it anytime soon, so it seems unfair to rate it. From the standpoint of hooking my interest, the most compelling thing about this autobiography so far has been Joe Biden's killer smile on the cover. His world-famous personal warmth and charm doesn't come through in the writing, which seems stilted and unnatural. But maybe that's just me. I've been reading a lot about politics lately, and this year's election cycle has been highly entertaining. It rivets the my attention, in the same way that I'd be attentive to knowing there's a 50-50 chance that a devastating natural disaster will ravage my town. (As I write this, the odds are improving in favor of averting the disaster.) After reading Obama's highly literary book (The Audacity of Hope), Biden's book (Promises to Keep) just didn't have the appeal. I'm sure that, as other readers have said, it's informative and full of insights about national and international affairs. Perhaps later, when I'm more in the mood to learn rather than to be entertained, I'll pick it up again and make it to the interesting parts. I already know Joe Biden's personal story and have long been an admirer of his work in Congress--what I know of it, at least. He is clearly an intelligent, deeply principled, and engaging person. He's the kind who can sell snow balls to Eskimos--or maybe peace to the Middle East. I'll be following his progress closely in the months and years to come--and one day, maybe, I'll finish the book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mary Watkins

    VP-elect Joe Biden is refreshingly candid reflecting on his life in and out of politics: unbreakable faith and famiy ties; a crippling stutter(Impedimenta); the loss of his late wife Neila and daughter Naomi in a tragic car crash; finding love again with Jill Jacobs, and his own brush with mortality following a disastrous presidential campaign in 1987. Biden's coloful narrative is so engaging that you feel as though he is right there with you, sharing his story. He also shares his vast knowledge VP-elect Joe Biden is refreshingly candid reflecting on his life in and out of politics: unbreakable faith and famiy ties; a crippling stutter(Impedimenta); the loss of his late wife Neila and daughter Naomi in a tragic car crash; finding love again with Jill Jacobs, and his own brush with mortality following a disastrous presidential campaign in 1987. Biden's coloful narrative is so engaging that you feel as though he is right there with you, sharing his story. He also shares his vast knowledge of foreign policy in a manner accessible to those who are not as worldly. From the stand point of a longtime Green Party member, Biden is maddeningly centrist in his views (yes to Iraq?). But as a reader, his life is a mesmerizing hurricane that has swept him to an incomparable place in history.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Marta

    This book is tedious. The writing is uninspired and I got no insights about his experience with death, dying, and grieving. Maybe that's because "that's what he's like" (as my book club said), but I just didn't "enjoy" it. This book is tedious. The writing is uninspired and I got no insights about his experience with death, dying, and grieving. Maybe that's because "that's what he's like" (as my book club said), but I just didn't "enjoy" it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    Started off strong, but lost me toward the end. At parts, Biden (understandably) just tries to make it seem like he was in the right, even while acknowledging his mistakes.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cookie

    Promises to Keep is Joe Biden's memoir published in 2007. I was interested in learning more about our President's background and I think this book did a good job of telling his story, both in his personal life and his political life. I learned a lot I didn't know about him, but I also took this book with a grain of salt, knowing that his perspective in hindsight is his truth but not the only truth. Biden was born in Pennsylvania in 1942 and his family moved to Delaware when he was 11 years old. Promises to Keep is Joe Biden's memoir published in 2007. I was interested in learning more about our President's background and I think this book did a good job of telling his story, both in his personal life and his political life. I learned a lot I didn't know about him, but I also took this book with a grain of salt, knowing that his perspective in hindsight is his truth but not the only truth. Biden was born in Pennsylvania in 1942 and his family moved to Delaware when he was 11 years old. He grew up in a very close middle class Irish Catholic family. Biden struggled with stuttering as a child and he had to work really hard to overcome this challenge. When he met his first wife, Neilia, it was love at first sight and they married while he was in law school. His first political position was a County Council position and soon after he was approached to run for a Senate seat. Biden won the election just days before he was to turn 30. Unfortunately, his wife and one year old daughter were killed in a car accident shortly before he was to be sworn into office. He nearly decided to quit the Senate position, but his colleagues convinced him to stay for a few months to see how it goes. He went on to serve 16 years in the Senate before he was elected as the Vice President. Based on this book, I have learned that Joe Biden is known as a man who loves deeply and who will do anything for his family and loved ones. The issues most important to him from the beginning of his political career are civil rights and women's rights. He is a resilient man, surviving getting through the death of his wife and child, his failed 1988 Presidential campaign, a near death brain aneurysm. Biden has made many mistakes in his life and I liked that he included those mistakes in this book. My favorite part of this book is that it delves into his relationship and marriage to Jill Biden. When they met, neither of them had intentions of getting into a serious relationship. The relationship and the family they built is so heartwarming and inspiring. Biden was able to find love again and build a beautiful family with Jill. ⚠️ death of a spouse and child, racism, rape, 9/11, war

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kendra

    3.5 stars - I subtracted 1.5 because both books were a bit boring at times I actually listened to this book (and at the same time Promise Me, Dad) on audible trying to get a better feel for our Democratic candidate. So I'll just review both of them here. After two Joe Biden books in near rapid succession I do feel like I better understand what is driving Joe Biden, but unfortunately, a big part of what drives him appears to be hubris. But for better or for worse, it is what it is. I do feel like 3.5 stars - I subtracted 1.5 because both books were a bit boring at times I actually listened to this book (and at the same time Promise Me, Dad) on audible trying to get a better feel for our Democratic candidate. So I'll just review both of them here. After two Joe Biden books in near rapid succession I do feel like I better understand what is driving Joe Biden, but unfortunately, a big part of what drives him appears to be hubris. But for better or for worse, it is what it is. I do feel like he will be a good president, if elected (please please pleaaaaase) and that's because he's convinced me of his experience and his drive, and the fact that he has a pretty good feel for politics (he often calls himself a 'gut politician'). I was impressed, by his telling at least, of the way he stood up to Slobodan Milosevic when few others would, and other stories when stuck to his morals (i.e. the Bork hearings for the Supreme Court nomination). At the very least, he has a pretty strong moral compass, even if that compass is calibrated to generations past. Which is definitely is. Unfortunately, a lot of what he writes in his books confirms the media reports that he is 'yesterday's man' as he lived in a world where he was the good-looking, confident senator with the beautiful blonde (in both cases) wife who cooked up a big old pot of spaghetti for Sunday night meetings at the Biden household. He seems to place a lot of emphasis on looks and gender roles, making me think he won't do much to shake up the status quo, or push for greater equality for women. But let's hope he surprises me, given the party's shift to the left, and his more or less willingness to go along with it. The books are both also hard reads, grief-laden as they are. It is hard to hear the recounting of such tragedies that Joe Biden has had to contend with, but it does make him a lot more human. At any rate, they are both illuminating in this current climate, and I recommend reading them to hear our future president's stories, even if they are biased :).

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Yeager

    I thought this was a great political memoir. This book came out as part of Biden's 2008 Presidential campaign as one of those "Learn more about me! Read my book!" media tactics. However, I feel like real effort and thought went into this book and I learned a lot about Biden's political views and his personal life. This book was not 5 star for me because in an effort to highlight what he must see as the biggest political moments in his life (Bosnian civil war intervention, passing the VAWA) Biden I thought this was a great political memoir. This book came out as part of Biden's 2008 Presidential campaign as one of those "Learn more about me! Read my book!" media tactics. However, I feel like real effort and thought went into this book and I learned a lot about Biden's political views and his personal life. This book was not 5 star for me because in an effort to highlight what he must see as the biggest political moments in his life (Bosnian civil war intervention, passing the VAWA) Biden glossed over large amounts of time. I also would have liked if Biden had explained more of the roots of his political beliefs and how he applied that to different situations over time. I think a large part of his self perception of his politics is based around his morality, which seems very genuine, but not as theoretical as a lot of other politicians. I appreciate that he was trying to keep this book as accessible to the widest audience possible but I still think he could have explained more about himself since he did get into the weeds in discussing ideology when it came to Judge Breyer and the NeoCons.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Worth the read to understand Mr. Biden. He is a good, compassionate, kind, and humble man. The 📖 is easy to read. It reminds me of. Having a conversation at the table. He doesn't seem like a phony. He seems down to earth, and humble. He has many accomplishments since being elected senator in the 70's in Delaware. He has made many friends across the aisle. He has been responsible for laws being passed for women in domestic abuse. Thank you Mr. Biden. Because back in the 90's if it wasn't for you. Worth the read to understand Mr. Biden. He is a good, compassionate, kind, and humble man. The 📖 is easy to read. It reminds me of. Having a conversation at the table. He doesn't seem like a phony. He seems down to earth, and humble. He has many accomplishments since being elected senator in the 70's in Delaware. He has made many friends across the aisle. He has been responsible for laws being passed for women in domestic abuse. Thank you Mr. Biden. Because back in the 90's if it wasn't for you. I may have been hurt more seriously if it wasn't for your law. The book also brought back memories of our culture. How far we have come. I voted for Mr. Biden in 2020. The book was written in 2008. He hasn't changed he's view. He may not feel Bush, and other presidents did the right thing. But still respected them. He has reached across the aisle several time for supporting and asking for help writing bills. He still feels the same way from then and now. The book is still relevant now as it was in 2008 when he ran for VP.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jason Ray Ray Carney

    This is an interesting and educational political memoir. The chapters that focus on Biden's childhood are surprisingly brief. I'm always interested in learning about politician's youths, but there is not a lot of those years related here: Biden is Senator of Delaware by only a few chapters in (1973). There are some emotional, personal moments after this: his struggle with a speech impediment; the loss of his first wife and daughter; his brain aneurysm, surgery, and recovery. There are several in This is an interesting and educational political memoir. The chapters that focus on Biden's childhood are surprisingly brief. I'm always interested in learning about politician's youths, but there is not a lot of those years related here: Biden is Senator of Delaware by only a few chapters in (1973). There are some emotional, personal moments after this: his struggle with a speech impediment; the loss of his first wife and daughter; his brain aneurysm, surgery, and recovery. There are several interesting historical anecodotes that bring recent periods of American history to life: his overseeing of the Justice Bork confirmation hearings; his meeting with the President of Serbia, Slobodan Milošević; his experience of 9/11, the lead up to the Iraq War, and his interactions with the Bush Administration. Often political memoirs read like book-length campaign ads. This one didn't. It was more a series of coffee house conversations about interesting moments in a long political career. Biden comes through as an intellectual incrementalist, pragmatist, lay Catholic who is guided by faith in the idea that people can work together and change.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Zhivko Kabaivanov

    In Promises to Keep (2007), Joe Biden recounts personal anecdotes from his childhood and long career in politics. He reveals how he was taught by his parents to always follow his convictions, and how he entered politics as an underdog, but quickly built a career in the Senate that spanned four decades. Lastly, he recounts how personal and professional adversity have made him a more resilient and insightful father, husband, and political leader.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    Autobiographies are always a little awkward—it’s hard to tell your own story without either a) focusing too much on your own flaws (especially hard if you’re writing your memoirs leading into a presidential run, which he was in 2006), or b) sounds egotistical. I think he sounded a little less modest than I’d expect from him, but that happens. But the stories he tells are good, and mostly you know from reading this that he’s a good man, who’s served the public admirably for decades, who cares dee Autobiographies are always a little awkward—it’s hard to tell your own story without either a) focusing too much on your own flaws (especially hard if you’re writing your memoirs leading into a presidential run, which he was in 2006), or b) sounds egotistical. I think he sounded a little less modest than I’d expect from him, but that happens. But the stories he tells are good, and mostly you know from reading this that he’s a good man, who’s served the public admirably for decades, who cares deeply about other people especially those who struggle the most. Also, Jill is clearly an amazing person.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Debby

    2+/3-, rounded up. I love policy, but this was a bit much, even for me. So, as a public service, here's the bottom line takeaway from Promises to Keep: Joe Biden is a good man and a good public servant. 2+/3-, rounded up. I love policy, but this was a bit much, even for me. So, as a public service, here's the bottom line takeaway from Promises to Keep: Joe Biden is a good man and a good public servant.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    A background on our President that I'm sure highlights select feel good stories in his life, but enough to feel good about him running the country. A background on our President that I'm sure highlights select feel good stories in his life, but enough to feel good about him running the country.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    I think this would have been more interesting as a print read. The audiobook narrator sounded much too impersonal and passionless. The book gives a good overview of Biden’s life and political accomplishments through the George W. Bush administration. I’m glad I gave myself the opportunity to learn a bit more than I knew about our next president.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Christy

    I was happy to see that Biden gave acknowledgement to his co-writer, Mark Zwonitzer, because this is a well-written book that reads like a novel and I doubted that Biden had crafted it by himself. That said, the stories are Biden’s and I enjoyed them all. Looking forward to Joe’s future memoirs about his Presidency!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Patty

    I love his style of writing - just enough humility and confidence. It covers his childhood and those influences in his life that shape who he is; his tragedies, political career and family live. Really nice read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Erik Rostad

    The 3rd of 4 books I’m reading about each of the candidates for President and Vice President. Biden has had an interesting life as a Senator. The personal tragedies were devastating.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kayla Steiner

    My second time reading this fantastic autobiography of our very-soon-to-be President! Great Read!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette (Now on StoryGraph)

    With every politician autobiography I read, I have about the same reaction. I love the early parts of the books where they tell about their upbringing and life before they got elected. After that I lose a little interest and scan a lot. They always want to give way more detail about politics than I want to read. That said, I have a lot of respect for Joe Biden. Wish he could have been prez instead of just veep. He's far more qualified than Obama. One good quote, describing an attitude that shoul With every politician autobiography I read, I have about the same reaction. I love the early parts of the books where they tell about their upbringing and life before they got elected. After that I lose a little interest and scan a lot. They always want to give way more detail about politics than I want to read. That said, I have a lot of respect for Joe Biden. Wish he could have been prez instead of just veep. He's far more qualified than Obama. One good quote, describing an attitude that should be adopted by all lawmakers, especially male ones: "My position is that I personally am opposed to abortion, but I don't think I have the right to impose my view--on something I accept as a matter of faith--on the rest of society...I think the government should stay out completely." Amen, Brother Joe, amen!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Arleen Bench

    I always admired Vice President Biden but this book reveals what a brilliant, kind, caring person he is. He has gone through more tragedy than most people do in a lifetime. He is truly a politician who cares about this country and the people. We need more politicians like him running this country. He has traveled to dangerous parts of the world to see for himself what is going on and what needs to be done. He would make a wonderful president. He is able to be a loving, caring family man while do I always admired Vice President Biden but this book reveals what a brilliant, kind, caring person he is. He has gone through more tragedy than most people do in a lifetime. He is truly a politician who cares about this country and the people. We need more politicians like him running this country. He has traveled to dangerous parts of the world to see for himself what is going on and what needs to be done. He would make a wonderful president. He is able to be a loving, caring family man while doing a fantastic job for all of us. He is soft spoken and dignified. He does not rant and rave and demean those who have different opinions but works with others to achieve what needs to be done. Great, great man surrounded by his wonderful wife and family. A must read!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    Strongly recommended. Book gives a great perspective on Biden's rise to his current vice-presidency. Interestingly, it concludes with him still in the race so it gives some insight into what he had hoped to achieve as commander. If you're looking for inspiration, think about his ability to "get up" as his father often said when he was challenged after his 1st wife and child tragically died and when he fought through his brain trauma. As with all political autobiographys, I'm guessing were not ge Strongly recommended. Book gives a great perspective on Biden's rise to his current vice-presidency. Interestingly, it concludes with him still in the race so it gives some insight into what he had hoped to achieve as commander. If you're looking for inspiration, think about his ability to "get up" as his father often said when he was challenged after his 1st wife and child tragically died and when he fought through his brain trauma. As with all political autobiographys, I'm guessing were not getting all sides here but I still walked away feeling like he's a guy more than worthy of his present position

  30. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    Biography of the life of Delaware Senator Joe Biden. It talks about his early run for president back during Dukakis Democratic run, and how he had to drop out due to a plagarism scandal. I find his life very interesting, about how he lost his first wife, and also just some of the stories of his life in the nation's capitol helping to head up the council that dealt with international affairs. A very good story about a sit down he had with Milosovic right before that conflict really came to a head Biography of the life of Delaware Senator Joe Biden. It talks about his early run for president back during Dukakis Democratic run, and how he had to drop out due to a plagarism scandal. I find his life very interesting, about how he lost his first wife, and also just some of the stories of his life in the nation's capitol helping to head up the council that dealt with international affairs. A very good story about a sit down he had with Milosovic right before that conflict really came to a head.

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