Joe Biden: American Dreamer – Evan Osnos

29 December 2020
Joe Biden Book Cover Joe Biden
Evan Osnos
Bloomsbury Publishing
27 October 2020

President-elect 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 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. His trials have forged in him a deep empathy for others in hardship - an essential quality as he addresses a nation at its most dire hour in decades.

Blending up-close journalism and broader context, Evan Osnos illuminates Biden's life and captures the characters and meaning of an extraordinary presidential election. He draws 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 progressive activists, advisers, opponents, and Biden family members.

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.


At the time of writing this review, Joe Biden is US President-Elect and will be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, on January 20th following the most important, divisive, and insane election in American history. An election that I’m sure psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, politicists and historians will pour over for decades, and that’s without taking into consideration epidemiologists, economists, geoscientists, environmentalists, criminologists and sociopath hunters.

The unpredictable roller-coaster ride of the 2020 election and the unusual circumstances surrounding it seems to typify the life of Joe Biden himself – a life of heart-breaking tragedy and major political success. He was often described by his peers as the luckiest person they knew and the unluckiest. Evan Osnos, a staff writer with the New Yorker, has written a brief insight into the political developments and events that shaped Biden’s political career. A career that has endured unimaginable family loss with the death of his first wife and two children, that required deep soul searching but always reaffirmed his devotion to public service. A working-class man with big dreams – the true American dream.

Joe Biden’s approach of working with colleagues and opponents to achieve compromised agreement has led him to be recognised as a politician with strong bipartisan acceptability. Probably the main reason Obama selected him as his vice president, and a role he accepted with intense loyalty to Obama and was returned with the knowledge Biden had capabilities he himself lacked.

I was fascinated in this US election and picked up information from various sources over years on Joe Biden, Barak Obama and Donald Trump. There is nothing new in this book, but it does provide a synopsis on the highlights that help paint the picture of a man of faith, perseverance, empathy, experience, mistakes, gaffs and loyalty. To have started the election campaign almost down and out in the primaries to achieving the democrat’s nominee for president to winning the presidency surely shows the rocky path he travels and the support he has gained along the way, including from many of his own party opponents.

The book also considers the America that Biden will inherit with a crisis of a deadly pandemic left largely unaddressed at a federal level, a racial injustice crisis that has formed Black Lives Matter initiatives throughout the world, an economic meltdown, a climate crisis, a foreign policy in complete disarray and almost unbelievably the world’s most recognised democracy teetering on the edge of collapse into autocracy. I hope history judges Joe Biden as the right man, in the right place at the right time.

Joe Biden: American Dreamer is a look at the political dreams of Biden himself and delivered in a concise book that is cleverly observed and pieced together through conversations Osnos had with many of Biden’s friends and acquaintances. I would recommend this book for a quick overview of the Joe Biden – a man asked to serve his country during one of their most difficult periods in history.

Peter Donnelly

Founder of The Reading Desk, supporting readers, authors, publishers and book industry. Top Reviewer on Amazon, Goodreads, and NetGalley

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