Former vice president 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.