Hunter Biden's love letter to his older brother Beau, the memoir Beautiful Things, also chronicles his descent into crack addiction.
It all started when Hunter was two and Beau was three and a tractor-trailer slammed into the family's car, killing their mother and baby sister. The boys survived. Their father Joe Biden wasn't in the car. Talk about a family trauma.
The brothers were inseparable when they grew up, but began to take different paths. "The biggest difference between us," Hunter, 51, writes. "I drank and Beau didn't."
Beau would serve the country in Iraq and was Delaware's Attorney General for two terms before succumbing to brain cancer at 46 in 2015.
After graduating from Yale Law School, Hunter worked in business and government. He's best known for his board membership with Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company that was in the middle of the first Trump impeachment. Former President Trump urged the Ukrainian president to dig up dirt on Biden's son.
"Knowing all of that now," he concedes in the "Burisma" chapter, "no, I would not do it again. I wouldn't take a seat on Burisma's board. Trump would have to look elsewhere to find a suitable distraction for his impeachable behavior."
However, two pages earlier, he points out, "Having a Biden on Burisma's board was a loud and umistakable fuck-you to Putin."
"I set out on a crack-fueled, cross-country odyssey."
Oddly, though Hunter didn't confer with his father in advance in 2014 when he was in the Senate about the Burisma gig. "I hope you know what you're doing," he recalls Joe telling him.
While this was all happening Beau got sick and Hunter's marriage broke up. He'd been arrested for coke when he was 18 and developed an alcohol habit that had him in and out of rehab from 2003 to 2010.
After the double whammy of Beau's death and his divorce in 2015 and 2016, Hunter went on a lengthy crack bender that only ended in 2019 when he met his second wife, who he credits for his remarkable recovery. He also had to face ridicule for dating Beau's wife after he died.
"The sensation," Hunter says about crack, "is one of utter, almost other-worldly well-being. You are at once energetic, focused and calm... I chased that high, on and off, for the next three years."
The "Into the Desert" chapter begins: "In October 2016, I set out on a crack-fueled, cross-country odyssey."
Consider the fact that Joe Biden was still Vice President and it boggles the mind. As Hilary Clinton was in the fight of her political life against Trump, Hunter Biden was holed up in seedy motel rooms making late-night drug buys, doling out cash to dealers and other hustlers. Biden's prodigious and risky drug use continues in the next chapter, "California Odyssey," where he becomes a regular Hollywood denizen, staying at amomg other places the now-disgraced Chateau Marmont.
Again, the book begs for an answer to the question, where was Joe during all of this? One time he sent his younger brother to straighten Hunter out, but that didn't work. On another occasion, Biden, who became president only a few years later, showed up at where Hunter was staying. "I know you're not fine," he said bluntly. "You need help."
Hunter did try several alternative drug therapies: ibogaine and ketamine.
About ibogaine therapy: "In 2014 I was treated in Mexico with moderate success. The therapy was dark. After I ingested it alone in a quiet room inside the Tijuana clinic, a slideshow of my life flickered before my eyes, one image-burst after another. I can't recall all of the visions, but I do remember having no control over them - that is, I couldn't stop them... That treatment was mind-blowing in a very literal sense.
"I also felt paralyzed, unable to move my arms, my legs, anything. It scared the hell out of me; I worried I'd never move again... I slowly came out of it, and 12 hours after it began and the treatment was over."
"I would not do it again. I wouldn't take a seat on Burisma's board."
About ketamine infusion: "The ketamine sessions were equally intense, just as frightening and not nearly as effective... Fears and past traumas surfaced vividly."
But, he adds: "The therapy's results were disastrous. I was in no way ready to process the feelings it unloosed or prompted by reliving past physical and emotional traumas. So I backslid."
The improbable conclusion ("Saved") to this saga is, of course, some form of redemption for Hunter Biden. He finds it in the person of Melissa Cohen who he met and impulsively married in L.A. in 2019. "It was love at first sight," he gushes. "At first glance."
Within 24 hours of meeting each other, Hunter, still hooked on crack, proposed to Melissa. They wanted to have a quickie wedding, no family. Hunter called Joe and introduced him to Melissa. "Thank you for giving my boy the courage to love again," Joe reportedly told her and gave them his blessing.
Now, Melissa Cohen is the President's daughter-in-law. And Hunter Biden is sober. Go figure.
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