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

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

Evan Osnos. Scribner, $23 (192p) ISBN 978-1-982174-02-6

The Democratic presidential nominee is a soothing moderate who may become a Rooseveltian progressive, argues this probing but sympathetic biographical sketch. Journalist Osnos (Age of Ambition) draws on vivid reportage from his New Yorker profiles of Biden to paint him as an unprepossessing but effective politician who is good at connecting with voters and wrangling with congressional leaders and foreign potentates; dedicated to a “sobering case for moral decency, for reasonableness”; and “the man who [stands] between Americans and four more years of Trump,” which is what matters most to “a country in peril.” Osnos’s less-than-hard-hitting character study downplays Biden’s shaky performance during the early days of the Democratic primary campaign, interprets his gaffes and garrulousness as signs of passion and empathy, and styles his exaggerations and plagiarisms as “the excesses of a man who wanted every story to sing.” Osnos offers a shrewd analysis of Biden’s predicament as “the nominee of a party gradually marching left, which was desperate to win over moderates and Republicans who were terrified of that march to the left,” and quotes liberal pundits on how Biden could maneuver a Bernie Sandersesque progressive agenda through Congress. The result is a portrait of the candidate that’s smart and evocative, but not immune to wishful thinking. Agent: Jennifer Joel, ICM Partners. (Oct.)