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Promise Me, Dad
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Learn the key ideas of the book by Joe Biden

Promise Me, Dad

A portrait of Joe Biden’s private life

Promise Me, Dad is the passionate tale of a father who takes us on a walk down memory lane. Writing during the time he served as vice president of the United States, under the Barack Obama administration, Joe Biden takes us - with enormous self-composure - through both his private life and public commitments, ranging from the sense of helplessness he felt for his terminally ill son, to the desire to carry on his mission of political leadership for his country. Promise Me, Dad is a delicate, intimate and moving story that shows how interconnected a person’s private and public lives are, and how much one influences the other in relation to a shared purpose. The serious family mourning that Biden had to go through following the premature death of his son, Beau, further strengthened Joe Biden’s resolution to intervene for the good of his country. The portrait that emerges is that of Joe Biden as a human, who is loyal and capable - a man who is most of all a father, a husband, a grandfather, and a friend, before calling himself a politician.

Promise Me, Dad
Read in 11 min.
Listen in 14 min.

Family: Joe Biden and his “home base”

One aspect that is truly evident in Joe Biden's story is the relationship that he shares with his family, made up of his brothers, sisters, wives, children, and grandchildren, who are always present in each other’s lives, and ready to help one another. 

Each member describes this family as a safe place, that is unique, and an important point of reference. Given this close-knit relationship, it comes as no surprise that Joe Biden’s brother and sister were in charge of his public relations team when he first entered politics and faced his first electoral campaigns as a young man, helping him to organise events, and equally that he had his first wife’s constant support throughout. 

Biden has come a long way since his youth. When he was very young, he had a stutter that made it difficult for him to speak in public. However, he understood that if he wanted to be involved in politics, he had to overcome this obstacle, and so he made sure that he took advantage of every opportunity that presented itself to speak in public. He studied his speeches in advance to help prepare himself, practicing in front of a mirror, and structuring the content in such a way that the rhythm allowed him to tie appropriate words together to avoid any pauses. 

The ability to practice consistently also gave him another advantage, in that he got to know many people, and came to be respected as a person, rather than simply for his role as a politician. 

For 36 years, Biden represented the state of Delaware in the Senate, until the newly elected president of the United States, Barack Obama, offered him the vice presidency. Initially, Biden was reluctant to accept, as he did not want to be trapped in a position of very little power, like almost all previous vice presidents. Subsequently, however, he accepted the position, subject to certain conditions: Biden set clear boundaries to his role, and asked Obama to ensure that he was always actively involved, so that he was able to have a say in important decisions. 

Biden knew that he could always count on the support of his family in everything that he did. Biden's eldest son, Beau, always referred to their family as “home base” - a concept borrowed from baseball, which represents both the point from which the action begins and ends, the exact point that the player must touch to score a run. Family for the Bidens represents a solid meeting point, and a point of departure, from which it is easy to set forth, because the way back is always open. 

Family is the place where we can be our true selves, without fear, where we are reminded of what matters most, and where we receive words of encouragement to look to the future with hope.


The key ideas of "Promise Me, Dad "

Family: Joe Biden and his “home base”
The great trials of life: the car accident, and the illness of his eldest son, Beau
For Biden, having a purpose in life and staying true to your mission matters more than anything else.
Nomination for the United States primaries, and his subsequent withdrawal
Joe Biden and the hope for a better future
Take-home message
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