New York (CNN Business) – When Joe Biden was vice president and mourning the death of his eldest son Beau, he was also trying to keep his youngest son, Hunter, alive.
That’s one of the many takeaways from Hunter’s book “Beautiful Things,” which was released Tuesday.
Many people have already made up their minds about Hunter, and others are not interested in knowing anything else, but I think his first-hand account of drug addiction, tabloid culture, and political insanity is incredibly informative. It’s one of those “you think you know, but you have no idea” kinds of stories. For example, Hunter’s big salary for being on the board of directors of the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma? He reveals that “Burisma became a major facilitator” of his “steeper slide into addiction” by providing cash for all the cocaine.
This is not the way we are used to reading about a son of the president. Hunter’s tales of drunkenness and crack-fueled odysseys are downright terrifying. And her memories of her brother – “I wish you had met Beau” – are very sad.
So far, most of the book reviews have been pretty positive. Publishers Weekly says their “courageous self-assessment makes the despair of substance abuse devastatingly palpable.” Book Mark has other reviews here. Like Seija Rankin of Entertainment Weekly, I was impressed by the scenes involving her father: “The result is, intentional or not, a portrait of our current president as the supreme patriarch.”
It’s also a description of addiction as “really the great equalizer in this country,” as CNN’s Kate Bennett told me after we both read the book. “It’s the only thing that really brought President Biden to his knees.” Read Bennett’s review here.
Where’s Hunter Biden?
Chapter after chapter the question of “Where’s Hunter?” interrupts in a completely new context. Some of the promoters of the book, such as Stephen King, have appropriated it to promote “Beautiful Things.” King wrote: ‘Where is Hunter? The answer is that he is in this book, the good, the bad and the beautiful.
But scrutiny of what the pro-Trump media screams sometimes call the “Biden crime family” continues to this day, and Hunter acknowledges that in the book. Regarding his role in Burisma, which was at the heart of President Trump’s first impeachment trial, he writes: “I did nothing unethical and I have never been accused of wrongdoing. In our current political environment, I don’t think it would have made any difference whether or not he took that position. They would attack me anyway. What I do believe, in this current climate, is that it wouldn’t matter what I did or didn’t do. The attacks weren’t intended for me. They were meant to hurt my father. Still, he says, in hindsight, for optical reasons, he wouldn’t take a board seat again.
Here is hunter
Hunter appeared on “CBS Sunday Morning,” then Monday’s “CBS This Morning,” and NPR’s “Morning Edition.” He also recorded an in-depth interview for the Marc Maron podcast. Maron said in his introduction that he saw Hunter as “a scapegoat for the right-wing press” and was not very interested in talking to him. But then he read the book and wondered what it’s like to be caricatured and demonized: “How can a human, much less a junkie trying to stay clean, deal with it?”
Hunter will be on the BBC and on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” later this week, but he seems to be avoiding more overtly political and partisan spaces. Fox talks about him practically every hour, but there is no news of an interview about Hunter’s book on Fox, nor do I think there will be.
After the CBS interviews, “Beautiful Things” entered the top 10 on Amazon’s bestseller list.
Shining a light
Hunter told NPR’s Scott Simon that “really the reason I wrote the book” is that it will “give some people hope. Give them some hope that they don’t have to stay locked up in that prison. And I don’t mean just the people who are trapped at the bottom of the well like me, but the people who are at the top of that well and realize that unless we go down with the flashlight, he will never find the exit. . But that is a dark and dangerous journey for them. And it was for my family. But his light never stopped looking for me. Never a moment, never a moment when they weren’t trying to save me.