Evan Osnos on Joe Biden, with Peter Osnos and Kai Bird

DEC 15, 2020 | 6:00 PM TO 7:00 PM

Evan Osnos, Peter Osnos



The Graduate Center


December 15, 2020: 6:00 PM-7:00 PM




Leon Levy Center for Biography



President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has been called both the luckiest man and the unluckiest—fortunate to have sustained a fifty-year political career that reached the White House, but also marked by deep personal losses and disappointments that he has suffered. Yet even as Biden’s life has been shaped by drama, it has also been powered by a willingness, rare at the top ranks of politics, to confront his shortcomings, errors, and reversals of fortune. As he says, “Failure at some point in your life is inevitable, but giving up is unforgivable.” His trials have forged in him a deep empathy for others in hardship—an essential quality as he leads America toward recovery and renewal.

Blending up-close journalism and broader context, Evan Osnos, who won the National Book Award in 2014, draws on nearly a decade of reporting for The New Yorker to capture the characters and meaning of 2020’s extraordinary presidential election. It is based on lengthy interviews with Biden and on revealing conversations with more than a hundred others, including President Barack Obama, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, and a range of activists, advisers, opponents, and Biden family members.

Evan Osnos won the National Book Award for Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China (2015). He is a staff writer at The New Yorker, where he served as the China correspondent from 2008 to 2013. He is the winner of two Overseas Press Club awards and the Asia Society's Osborn Elliott Prize for Excellence in Journalism on Asia. Previously, he worked at the Chicago Tribune, where he was part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting in 2008. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Peter Osnos began his journalism career in 1965 as an editorial assistant to investigative journalist I. F. Stone on his weekly newsletter. From 1966 to 1984, Osnos worked for The Washington Post; he was a foreign correspondent in Vietnam, the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom, and he also served as foreign editor and national editor. Osnos was a regular commentator for National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" and co-host of "Communiqué." In 1984, he joined Random House, where he worked until 1996 as a senior editor, vice president, and associate publisher, and as publisher of the Times Books division. In 1997, he founded PublicAffairs. He served as Publisher and CEO until 2005 and is currently the consulting editor and founder. 

Kai Bird, Executive Director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography,  co-authored with Martin J. Sherwin the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer (Knopf, 2005). He has also written biographies of John J. McCloy and McGeorge Bundy—and a memoir, Crossing Mandelbaum Gate: Coming of Age Between the Arabs and Israelis (Scribner, 2010). His most recent book is The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames (Crown, 2014). His biography of President Jimmy Carter, The Outlier: the Unfinished Presidency of Jimmy Carter, will be published on May 11, 2021 by Crown Books.​