Hunter Biden details lifelong addiction struggle in memoir

Hunter Biden details lifelong addiction struggle in memoir
Hunter Biden. (AFP/Democratic National Convention)
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Updated 01 April 2021

Hunter Biden details lifelong addiction struggle in memoir

Hunter Biden details lifelong addiction struggle in memoir
  • He credits his second wife, Melissa Cohen Biden, with helping him sober up, along with the love from his father and late brother

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden’s son Hunter details his lifelong struggle with alcoholism and drug abuse in a new memoir, writing that “in the last five years alone, my two-decades-long marriage has dissolved, guns have been put in my face, and at one point I dropped clean off the grid, living in $59-a-night Super 8 motels off I-95 while scaring my family even more than myself.”
His “deep descent” into substance addiction followed the 2015 death of his older brother, Beau, who succumbed to brain cancer at age 46, Hunter Biden writes in “Beautiful Things.” The book is set for release on Tuesday.
“After Beau died, I never felt more alone. I lost hope,” he wrote.
He credits his second wife, Melissa Cohen Biden, with helping him sober up, along with the love from his father and late brother.
Before meeting his future wife in California, Hunter Biden cycled through addiction, rehab and sobriety all while managing to have a family and career as a lawyer and lobbyist. His family tried to intervene sometime in 2019 after his mother, Jill Biden, called and invited him to a family dinner in Delaware.
But Hunter Biden sensed that more than a hot meal was on table after he saw his three daughters and two counselors from a Pennsylvania rehab center where he’d been a patient when he arrived.
He swore at his father and bolted from the house, but was chased down the driveway by Joe Biden, who “grabbed me, swung me around, and hugged me. He held me tight in the dark and cried for the longest time. Everybody was outside now.”
To end the scene, Hunter Biden agreed to check into a facility in Maryland. He was driven there by Beau’s widow, Hallie, with whom he’d had a relationship. After she dropped him off, Hunter Biden writes, he called an Uber, told the staff he’d return in the morning and then checked into a hotel near Baltimore’s airport.
“For the next two days, while everybody who’d been at my parents’ house thought I was safe and sound at the center, I sat in my room and smoked the crack I’d tucked away in my traveling bag,” he wrote. “I then boarded a plane for California and ran and ran and ran. Until I met Melissa.”
The first drink Hunter Biden remembers having was a flute of champagne.
He was 8 and at an election-night party in Delaware celebrating his father’s reelection to the Senate in 1978. He says he didn’t know what he was doing because “to me, champagne was just a fizzy drink.”
But he writes that he knew better when he was 14 and overnighting at his best friend’s house in the summer between eighth and ninth grades. They split a six-pack of beer while the boy’s parents were out. The boys pretended to be asleep when the parents returned home because they were drunk after three beers apiece.
“Getting blasted and sick as a dog didn’t scare me or turn me off one bit,” he wrote. “Instead, I thought it was kind of cool. While I felt a nagging guilt from disappointing my father, who didn’t drink and who encouraged us to stay away from alcohol as well, I wanted to do it again.”
Drinking, he wrote, “seemed to solve every unanswered question about why I felt the way I felt. It took away my inhibitions, my insecurities, and often my judgment. It made me feel complete, filling a hole I didn’t even realize was there — a feeling of loss and my sense of not being understood or fitting in.”
At 18, Hunter Biden was busted for cocaine possession but did pretrial intervention with six months’ probation and the arrest was removed from his record. He says he disclosed the episode during a 2006 Senate committee hearing on his nomination to serve on the Amtrak board of directors.
As an adult, he once let a crack cocaine addict he first met when he was a senior at Georgetown University live with him in his Washington apartment for about five months. Hunter Biden was kicked out of the US Navy Reserve after he failed a drug test.
Hunter Biden, now 51, also writes about thinking he had developed a superpower — “the ability to find crack in any town, at any time, no matter how unfamiliar the terrain,” and about once having a gun thrust in his face when he embarked on such a hunt during five months of self-exile in Los Angeles.
It was in Los Angeles where he met Melissa Cohen, and he describes their first meeting as akin to love at first sight. He says she didn’t flinch when he told her about his addiction, his alcoholism and other problems.
“She pushed away everyone in my life connected to drugs,” taking away his phone, computer, car keys and wallet, he wrote. She deleted every contact in his phone who wasn’t family, and tossed his crack cocaine.
The South African filmmaker slowly eased him off of drinking and arranged for a doctor to come to their Hollywood Hills apartment to help with his withdrawal. He slept for three days.
He woke up on the fourth day and asked her to marry him. She asked to wait for the right time, but when they woke up the next morning — seven days after they’d met — — she told him, “Let’s do it.”
They wed in May 2019. Their son, Beau, came along in 2020.
Last week, Hunter and his family were at the White House and traveled with President Joe Biden aboard the Marine One helicopter.


What We Are Reading Today: Dollars and Sense

What We Are Reading Today: Dollars and Sense
Updated 22 April 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Dollars and Sense

What We Are Reading Today: Dollars and Sense

Edited by Dan Ariely and Jeff Kreisler

In Dollars and Sense, bestselling author and behavioral economist Dan Ariely teams up with financial comedian and writer Jeff Kreisler to challenge many of our most basic assumptions about the precarious relationship between our brains and our money. 

In doing so, they undermine many of personal finance’s most sacred beliefs and explain how we can override some of our own instincts to make better financial choices.

Exploring a wide range of everyday topics—from the lure of pain-free spending with credit cards to the  pitfalls of household budgeting to the seductive power of holiday sales — Ariely and Kreisler demonstrate how our misplaced confidence in our spending habits frequently leads us astray, costing us more than we realize, whether it’s the real value of the time we spend driving forty-five minutes to save $10 or our inability to properly assess what the things we buy are actually worth. Together,  Ariely and Kreisler reveal the emotional forces working against us and how we can counteract them.


What We Are Reading Today: Rationality; From AI to Zombies by Eliezer Yudkowsky

What We Are Reading Today: Rationality; From AI to Zombies by Eliezer Yudkowsky
Updated 21 April 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Rationality; From AI to Zombies by Eliezer Yudkowsky

What We Are Reading Today: Rationality; From AI to Zombies by Eliezer Yudkowsky

In “Rationality: From AI to Zombies,” Eliezer Yudkowsky explains the science underlying human irrationality with a mix of fables, argumentative essays, and personal vignettes. 

These eye-opening accounts of how the mind works (and how, all too often, it doesn’t!) are then put to the test through some genuinely difficult puzzles: Computer scientists’ debates about the future of artificial intelligence (AI), physicists’ debates about the relationship between the quantum and classical worlds, philosophers’ debates about the metaphysics of zombies and the nature of morality, and many more. 

In the process, the book delves into the human significance of correct reasoning more deeply than you’ll find in any conventional textbook on cognitive science or philosophy of mind.

This book compiles six volumes of Yudkowsky’s essays  into a single electronic tome. Collectively, these sequences of linked essays serve as a rich and lively introduction to the science  — and the art — of human rationality.


What We Are Reading Today: The Case Against Education by Bryan Caplan

What We Are Reading Today: The Case Against Education by Bryan Caplan
Updated 20 April 2021

What We Are Reading Today: The Case Against Education by Bryan Caplan

What We Are Reading Today: The Case Against Education by Bryan Caplan

Bryan Caplan argues in “The Case Against Education” that the primary function of education is not to enhance students’ skill but to certify their intelligence, work ethic, and conformity — in other words, to signal the qualities of a good employee. 

Learn why students hunt for easy As and casually forget most of what they learn after the final exam, why decades of growing access to education have not resulted in better jobs for the average worker, how employers reward workers for costly schooling they rarely if ever use, and why cutting education spending is the best remedy.

Caplan shows how the labor market values grades over knowledge, and why the more education your rivals have, the more you need to impress employers.  He explains why graduation is our society’s top conformity signal, and why even the most useless degrees can certify employability. 

Romantic notions about education being “good for the soul” must yield to careful research and common sense — The Case against Education points the way.


What We Are Reading Today: Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong

What We Are Reading Today: Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong
Updated 19 April 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong

What We Are Reading Today: Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong

Minor Feelings is a thought-provoking, insightful, smart collection of essays that delve into Asian American history, identity and psychology. 

“By blending history and cultural criticism with stories from her own past, this book highlights the complexities of being Asian in America,” said a review published in goodreads.com.

Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong uses her own story as a portal into a deeper examination of racial consciousness in America today. 

The book “traces her relationship to the English language, to shame and depression, to poetry and art-making, and to family and female friendship in a search to both uncover and speak the truth,” said the review.

Park Hong “wrote this book with courage and all her heart — exposing her feelings with honesty and wit. Her writing is incredible and this is a true masterpiece,” the review added. 

“She reckons with her identity as an Asian American while exploring larger themes of unity, art, friendship, mental health and much more. Her poeticism comes through in the beautiful writing.”


What We Are Reading Today: The Free World by Louis Menan

What We Are Reading Today: The Free World by Louis Menan
Updated 17 April 2021

What We Are Reading Today: The Free World by Louis Menan

What We Are Reading Today: The Free World by Louis Menan

The Free World from Louis Menand is a sweeping survey that looks at how and why perceptions about the United States, both domestically and internationally, changed so completely during these years.

In his followup to the Pulitzer Prize–winning The Metaphysical Club, Menand offers a new intellectual and cultural history of the postwar years.

In his 2001 book, The Metaphysical Club, Menand offered an intellectual history of America after the Civil War by looking at a group of men whose ideas and discussions helped shape American thought. 

“Now, he focuses on the years after World War II through the Vietnam War, when American culture was exported more broadly to the world,” said a review published in The New York Times.

“If you asked me when I was growing up what the most important good in life was, I would have said ‘freedom,’” he writes. 

“As I got older, I started to wonder just what freedom is, or what it can realistically mean. I wrote this book to help myself, and maybe help you, figure that out.”