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In New Book, Hunter Biden Reveals The “Beautiful Things” About His Past — And Wants Our Forgiveness

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In New Book, Hunter Biden Reveals The “Beautiful Things” About His Past, And Wants Us To Forgive Him

Hunter Biden has spent his entire life beneath the shadow of tragedy. In the days leading up to his father’s election to the U.S. Presidency, Donald Trump and his ilk leveraged all resources at their disposal to remind us of Hunter’s vulnerability. But no one provides more insight into a long history of desperation and struggle than Hunter himself, in his new memoir, “Beautiful Things.” 

Abusing drugs and alcohol is often used as a coping mechanism for those who’ve experienced intense trauma. Hunter Biden sat in the backseat of a car with his older brother Beau during the crash that killed his mother and younger sister. 

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Then, in 2015, Hunter’s brother Beau succumbed to glioblastoma — an aggressive brain cancer — at the age of 46 after 5 years of treatment and decline. Beau’s star burned bright. He was the former Attorney General of Delaware, friend to current Vice President Kamala Harris, and he left behind a wife and two children. 

Drug addiction is a major life disruptor for anyone, but when the very visible second son of a popular government figure publicly struggles with substance abuse for decades, the fallout can be widespread and unforgiving. 

In his memoir, Hunter reveals the most personal and heartbreaking details of his fight against addiction. He paints vivid moments of self-destruction and failure through examples of the worst of it, and the desperate knowledge that only an addict could possess. 

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For example, we’re given a look at a night Hunter stumbled out from a liquor store, only to immediately crack open a bottle right on the street because he couldn’t stand to go another moment without a drink. 

We’re told about his homemade recipe for cooking crack from cocaine powder on a stovetop burner. 

We feel the shame he felt as he relays the truth about his affair with Beau’s wife, Hallie, that began as she shuttled him home from rehab after one of his many visits. 

At the same time that it’s a look at his days trapped under the threat of relapse and the events of a life covered in sadness, it’s also a kind of stand against the rhetoric of the Trump days. It’s a testament to the love he holds for his father and that which he’s struggled to develop for himself. 

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"I'm not going anywhere," Biden writes in “Beautiful Things.” "I'm not a curio or sideshow to a moment in history, as all the cartoonish attacks try to paint me."

Hunter was the focal point of the conservative attacks against Joe Biden’s personal life as he sought the office of the president. Led by Donald Trump, who spouted conspiracy theories about the politician’s son louder than anyone, hit pieces and right-wing talk shows took the ball and ran with it. 

But Hunter provides full context to the lies and talking points from a vicious, failed campaign. He admits that his last name is likely the reason that doors were opened to him, and that connections he made were due to the fact that many in his network were looking for access to his father. 

Though he defends his time on the board of Burisma, a position which brought intense scrutiny from Trump and his allies, though no wrongdoing was ever uncovered, and Hunter explains that he took the role as a way of communicating to Vladimir Putin that the Bidens were serious about holding Russia accountable. 

Hunter also defends his professional career in general. He distances himself from other presidential relatives, arguing that he’s traveled his own path, worked for organizations and businesses that had nothing to do with his father. Biden talks up his own accomplishments through a life of struggle, while the Trump children worked for their father’s companies and established lucrative deals through his properties and connections. 

President Biden fought to dismiss criticism of his son on the campaign trail, candidly discussing the pride he holds for Hunter and the success that he’s had in dealing with his addiction. Hunter suggests that though Trump tried, he wasn’t able to change the story about the relationship between a troubled son and his father. 

“[Trump] doesn’t want to talk about the substantive issues,” he said. “It’s not about his family and my family. It’s about your family.” He pushed back against Matt Gaetz and other Trump allies who spread unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about Hunter. 

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At one point, Hunter recalls a time when his father broke down and staged an intervention. It’s been reported widely by Hunter himself and others that Joe just never gave up on him. When things were at their very worst, the elder Biden pleaded the hardest. 

“I’m scared,” said Joe, holding tight to his son, who’d tried to escape the intervention. “Tell me what to do.” 

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Hunter’s memoir is a look at the deepest aspects of human trauma, the secrets we keep with us as we go through the worst parts of our lives. It’s also a testament to the relationship he has with his father, who never stopped trying, despite their mutual pain. 

In the end, the book is a monument to Hunter’s brother, Beau. Hunter ends the text with a letter to his brother, whose mantra about appreciating the beautiful things in life inspired the title. He tells Beau, “I’ve survived, buddy. I know you were with me through it all.” 

Kevin Lankes, MFA, is an editor and author. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Here Comes Everyone, Pigeon Pages, Owl Hollow Press, The Huffington Post, The Riverdale Press, and more.