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: Madhouse at the End of the Earth by Julian Sancton

What We Are Reading Today: Madhouse at the End of the Earth by Julian Sancton
Updated 09 May 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Madhouse at the End of the Earth by Julian Sancton

What We Are Reading Today: Madhouse at the End of the Earth by Julian Sancton

Madhouse at the End of the Earth is a must-read book for anyone interested in polar exploration and geographic discovery.

It is a fictionalized account of an actual Belgian expedition to the Antarctic, in the final years of the 19th century, and is based on a multitude of journals and reports.

In this epic tale, Sancton unfolds a story of adventure gone horribly awry.

“It is a fascinating and exciting story of endurance, with a flowing narrative and characters well described and full of depth,” said a review in goodreads.com.

It offers a gripping account of the de Gerlache Antarctic expedition of 1897-1899, in which the ship became frozen in the ice for the entire winter. 

It is also the story of the friendship between the ship’s doctor, Dr. Frederick Albert Cook, and Roald Amundsen, who was at the beginning of his career as an explorer.

The author uses a lot of primary sources such as diaries.

“Anyone who values a human story in trying conditions, under desperate circumstances, will completely enjoy this book,” said the review.


What We Are Reading Today: Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe

What We Are Reading Today: Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe
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Updated 08 May 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe

What We Are Reading Today: Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe

Author: Niall Ferguson

Drawing from multiple disciplines, including economics and network science, Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe offers not just a history but a general theory of disaster.
The book falls into multiple parts, the first of which forms the bulk of the text with an examination of disasters throughout history, both natural and man-made, some in the deep past, others in more recent memory.
As author Niall Ferguson shows, governments “must learn to become less bureaucratic if we are to avoid the impending doom of irreversible decline,” said a review on goodreads.com.
“While populist rulers certainly performed poorly in the face of the pandemic, Ferguson argues that more profound pathologies were at work — pathologies already visible in our responses to earlier disasters,” said the review.
It said that Ferguson “examines various plagues through the ages, as knowledge of how they work gradually grew, and how such knowledge was usually ignored or abused by those in power.”


What We Are Reading Today: The Big Roads by Earl Swift

What We Are Reading Today: The Big Roads by Earl Swift
Updated 06 May 2021

What We Are Reading Today: The Big Roads by Earl Swift

What We Are Reading Today: The Big Roads by Earl Swift

A man-made wonder, a connective network, an economic force, a bringer of blight and sprawl and the possibility of escape — the US interstate system changed the face of our country. 

Earl Swift’s The Big Roads charts the creation of these essential American highways. From the turn-of-the-century car racing entrepreneur who spurred the citizen-led “Good Roads” movement, to the handful of driven engineers who conceived of the interstates and how they would work to the protests that erupted across the nation when highways reached the cities and found people unwilling to be uprooted in the name of progress, Swift follows a winding, fascinating route through twentieth-century American life. 

How did we get from dirt tracks to expressways in less than a century? Through decades of politics, activism, and marvels of engineering, we recognize in our highways the wanderlust, grand scale, and conflicting notions of citizenship and progress that define America.


What We Are Reading Today: The Bomber Mafia by Malcolm Gladwell

What We Are Reading Today: The Bomber Mafia by Malcolm Gladwell
Updated 05 May 2021

What We Are Reading Today: The Bomber Mafia by Malcolm Gladwell

What We Are Reading Today: The Bomber Mafia by Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell’s The Bomber Mafia is an exploration of how technology and best intentions collide in the heat of war.

Most military thinkers in the years leading up to World War II saw the airplane as an afterthought. But a small band of idealistic strategists asked: What if precision bombing could cripple the enemy and make war far less lethal?

In contrast, the bombing of Tokyo on the deadliest night of the war cost thousands of civilian lives, but may have spared even more by averting a planned US invasion. In The Bomber Mafia, Gladwell asks, “Was it worth it?”

Things might have gone differently had LeMay’s predecessor, General Haywood Hansell, remained in charge. Hansell believed in precision bombing, but when he and Curtis LeMay squared off for a leadership handover in the jungles of Guam, LeMay emerged victorious, leading to the bombing of Tokyo. The Bomber Mafia is a riveting tale of persistence, innovation, and the incalculable wages of war.


What We Are Reading Today: If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino

What We Are Reading Today: If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino
Updated 03 May 2021

What We Are Reading Today: If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino

What We Are Reading Today: If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino

Italo Calvino’s masterpiece combines a love story and a detective story into an exhilarating allegory of reading, in which the reader of the book becomes the book’s central character. He imagines a novel capable of endless mutations in this intricately crafted story about writing and readers.

If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler turns out to be not one novel but ten, each with a different plot, style, ambience, and author, and each interrupted at a moment of suspense. Together they form a labyrinth of literatures through which two readers pursue both the story lines that intrigue them and one another.

In between chasing missing chapters of the book, the hapless readers tangle with an international conspiracy, a rogue translator, an elusive novelist, a disintegrating publishing house, and several oppressive governments. 

The result is a literary labyrinth of storylines that interrupt one another — an Arabian Nights of the postmodern age.