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Faith of My Fathers: A Family Memoir

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With candor and ennobling power, McCain tells a story that, in the words of Newsweek, 'makes the other presidential candidates look like pygmies'. John McCain is one of the most admired leaders in the United States government, but his deeply felt memoir of family and war is not a political one and ends before his election to Congress. With candor and ennobling p With candor and ennobling power, McCain tells a story that, in the words of Newsweek, 'makes the other presidential candidates look like pygmies'. John McCain is one of the most admired leaders in the United States government, but his deeply felt memoir of family and war is not a political one and ends before his election to Congress. With candor and ennobling power, McCain tells a story that, in the words of Newsweek, "makes the other presidential candidates look like pygmies." John McCain learned about life and honor from his grandfather and father, both four-star admirals in the U.S. Navy. This is a memoir about their lives, their heroism, and the ways that sons are shaped and enriched by their fathers. John McCain's grandfather was a gaunt, hawk-faced man known as Slew by his fellow officers and, affectionately, as Popeye by the sailors who served under him. McCain Sr. played the horses, drank bourbon and water, and rolled his own cigarettes with one hand. More significant, he was one of the navy's greatest commanders, and led the strongest aircraft carrier force of the Third Fleet in key battles during World War II. John McCain's father followed a similar path, equally distinguished by heroic service in the navy, as a submarine commander during World War II. McCain Jr. was a slightly built man, but like his father, he earned the respect and affection of his men. He, too, rose to the rank of four-star admiral, making the McCains the first family in American history to achieve that distinction. McCain Jr.'s final assignment was as commander of all U.S. forces in the Pacific during the Vietnam War. It was in the Vietnam War that John McCain III faced the most difficult challenge of his life. A naval aviator, he was shot down over Hanoi in 1967 and seriously injured. When Vietnamese military officers realized he was the son of a top commander, they offered McCain early release in an effort to embarrass the United States. Acting from a sense of honor taught him by his father and the U.S. Naval Academy, McCain refused the offer. He was tortured, held in solitary confinement, and imprisoned for five and a half years. Faith of My Fathers is about what McCain learned from his grandfather and father, and how their example enabled him to survive those hard years. It is a story of three imperfect men who faced adversity and emerged with their honor intact. Ultimately, Faith of My Fathers shows us, with great feeling and appreciation, what fathers give to their sons, and what endures.


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With candor and ennobling power, McCain tells a story that, in the words of Newsweek, 'makes the other presidential candidates look like pygmies'. John McCain is one of the most admired leaders in the United States government, but his deeply felt memoir of family and war is not a political one and ends before his election to Congress. With candor and ennobling p With candor and ennobling power, McCain tells a story that, in the words of Newsweek, 'makes the other presidential candidates look like pygmies'. John McCain is one of the most admired leaders in the United States government, but his deeply felt memoir of family and war is not a political one and ends before his election to Congress. With candor and ennobling power, McCain tells a story that, in the words of Newsweek, "makes the other presidential candidates look like pygmies." John McCain learned about life and honor from his grandfather and father, both four-star admirals in the U.S. Navy. This is a memoir about their lives, their heroism, and the ways that sons are shaped and enriched by their fathers. John McCain's grandfather was a gaunt, hawk-faced man known as Slew by his fellow officers and, affectionately, as Popeye by the sailors who served under him. McCain Sr. played the horses, drank bourbon and water, and rolled his own cigarettes with one hand. More significant, he was one of the navy's greatest commanders, and led the strongest aircraft carrier force of the Third Fleet in key battles during World War II. John McCain's father followed a similar path, equally distinguished by heroic service in the navy, as a submarine commander during World War II. McCain Jr. was a slightly built man, but like his father, he earned the respect and affection of his men. He, too, rose to the rank of four-star admiral, making the McCains the first family in American history to achieve that distinction. McCain Jr.'s final assignment was as commander of all U.S. forces in the Pacific during the Vietnam War. It was in the Vietnam War that John McCain III faced the most difficult challenge of his life. A naval aviator, he was shot down over Hanoi in 1967 and seriously injured. When Vietnamese military officers realized he was the son of a top commander, they offered McCain early release in an effort to embarrass the United States. Acting from a sense of honor taught him by his father and the U.S. Naval Academy, McCain refused the offer. He was tortured, held in solitary confinement, and imprisoned for five and a half years. Faith of My Fathers is about what McCain learned from his grandfather and father, and how their example enabled him to survive those hard years. It is a story of three imperfect men who faced adversity and emerged with their honor intact. Ultimately, Faith of My Fathers shows us, with great feeling and appreciation, what fathers give to their sons, and what endures.

30 review for Faith of My Fathers: A Family Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    aPriL does feral sometimes

    Edit August 25, 2018 RIP Edit July 20, 2017: Yesterday it was announced that John McCain had a cancerous brain tumor surgically removed. I am very sad. I had read his memoir a few months ago and I have the greatest admiration for Senator McCain because of his service and sacrifices for his country. January 2017 review below: United States Senator John McCain's autobiography, 'Faith of my Fathers', gives readers mostly a military service history of McCain's grandfather, father and himself. Edit August 25, 2018 RIP Edit July 20, 2017: Yesterday it was announced that John McCain had a cancerous brain tumor surgically removed. I am very sad. I had read his memoir a few months ago and I have the greatest admiration for Senator McCain because of his service and sacrifices for his country. January 2017 review below: United States Senator John McCain's autobiography, 'Faith of my Fathers', gives readers mostly a military service history of McCain's grandfather, father and himself. All three served while America was at war somewhere. Senator McCain also briefly sketches out the history of his family going back to their origins from Scotland, but it is not much more than an outline. Basically, the McCains have been in military service since the Great Rebellion of England ( https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish... ), which McCain doesn't bother to explain in depth, understandably so; and then a McCain fought for George Washington, and a McCain fought in the Civil War on the side of the South. McCains have been a military family for centuries. The Senator does go into depth describing the military careers of his grandfather, father and his own military service. John McCain Senior, who was a naval aviator and who became a four-star admiral, was involved with many sea-based battles with the Germans in WWI and the Japanese in WWII. He directed operations of aircraft carriers and land-based aircraft. John McCain Junior was a WWII submariner, and later in his career he became a four-star Admiral during the Vietnam War. John McCain III, a U.S. Senator currently and the author of this book, followed his father and grandfather into military service as a naval aviator. It was while flying a bombing mission over Hanoi he was shot down and became a North Vietnam prisoner of war. He remained a prisoner for seven years, suffering torture, solitary confinement in cells barely different from outdoor toilets, and he almost died from horrifying physical body damage from the original plane crash and from beatings and poor nutrition. Almost all of the captured Americans fought back against their jailers continuously in many small and large ways, including escape attempts which clearly would fail, enduring severe punishments in return. I have to admit much of this behavior by the weak and injured prisoners as told by McCain is beyond my understanding. I do understand their resisting the Viet Cong's pressure to force them to make false confessions and statements against the United States. I understand how they needed to communicate and care for and support each other. However, as McCain described very brave individual and group pranks which served to provoke terrible body-breaking tortures, especially on certain men in particular, some because of their officer rank (McCain says that although he suffered torture, the Viet Cong seemed to hold back somewhat in torturing him), I cannot understand the military mind on this. As McCain related the toughening warrior experiences of his grandfather, his father and his own during military school and while in uniform during wartime service, it is clear to me these guys live in a different universe from what I know. Perhaps military men all over the world share this worldview to constantly provoke and endure pain simply for personal tests to meet a masculine performance standard publicly acknowledged by their peers, whatever those standards of tough male behavior. Sometimes the pain endurance test is for the sake of rigid personal or patriotic honor into which they have been taught to channel their need to demonstrate manliness, but hazing is also widely prevalent in all kinds of male institutions. At the same time while demonstrating personal resistance to agonies of the flesh, they must show strong emotional resentment and resistance to any authority except to that of their immediate dogpack leadership. McCain did not seem to see how much their pranks and attempts to humiliate and defy the Viet Cong jailers resembled the hazing he described in earlier chapters during military school. I strongly feel an alien mentality in all of these memoirs by warrior men (it does seem to be mostly a feature of male thrill-seeker brains) I have read, which is very unfamiliar to the way my mind functions. Obviously, I must accept it despite not understanding it. There appears to be an intrinsic pattern in warrior mentality all over the world. Gentle reader, you may not think well of me for the following confession - after having read these memoirs for about five or so wars during my lifetime, seeing interviews with warrior types on video, and having talked with men who exhibit warrior mentality, I can no longer feel the sorrow I used to feel when they die in combat, or even in extreme sports for the matter, or in captivity as prisoners. I still grieve for the waste of their lives, sometimes, in their warrior deaths, though, especially in activities like gang-banging, fraternity hazing or drunken sports excesses to escape the pure boredom of a regulated safe life. Not so alien to me, like many people who wanted to read this book, frankly, I had a voyeuristic fascination and curiosity about McCain's imprisonment and torture. Ok then. He gives most of those readers what they seek beginning at chapter 16. He does not go into ghastly explicit details, but he does give readers more than an outline of his sufferings. It was a genuine horrific awful time of torture and depraved confinement for the POWs held by the North Vietnamese. The North Vietnamese wanted to win this war against the Americans, and they had experienced great torture and depravity, too, from the time of the French occupation of their country. Shit rolled downhill. Not an excuse, but it is an explanation, and of course, it is human nature. I have included a Wikipedia link below about the Viet Cong: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viet_... During this time, I myself was a teenage anti-Vietnam war protestor, but I did not think that the Western celebrities and others who went to North Vietnam to support the Viet Cong was a good thing. Protestors of Western participation in the Vietnam war should not have shown ANY support for the Viet Cong, in my opinion. I wanted the USA military out of Vietnam because I believed these brave Western fighters were sacrificing themselves in a badly planned, thus unwinnable war, and I wanted the Vietnamese to be in charge of their own country. However, I was no friend of Communists and I still am not. I thought and still think Communism sucks as a form of government. Communism seems to require a dictatorship, and dictatorships appear to always need institutionalized torture and social repression and purposeful scapegoating to rule its citizens living under it. Communism is not much different in practice from religious theocracies, except apparently it is the worst form of government in terms of longevity. History has shown Communist governments appear to fail from a strangled economy after about 60 years unless they introduce policies encouraging private enterprise and individual property ownership, which effectively is the end of their pure Communism economy, if not of the dictatorship and the underlying kleptocracy which always seems to accompany dictatorships. Of course, nobody knew that Communist governments self-destruct during the Vietnam War. Simply, it had become clear then to young adults after awhile, like the Iraq Wars, it wasn't any longer obvious it was about the danger of an antagonistic power running things in Vietnam working "to destroy the American way of life" (if such a danger existed, it had passed on), and the war had for certain deteriorated and it had become degenerate and deranged. Continuing the Vietnam war was destroying what America was trying to save - American values. We still have not recovered morally from this long ago war, in my opinion. We are messed up. We got our fingers burned fighting for what we believed would be right and good for everyone in the world - our form of democracy (and Christianity, imho), alongside our faith in American exceptionalism; so we have lost interest in some wars recently or we have ended wars in draws because these countries hate us instead of love us. This has made us even more uncertain about our faith in democracy and we are deserting our moral beliefs in our Constitution here at home. Instead, we fight wars now using more shallow principles - to be policemen keeping order for American business interests and our business friends. For any other causes that come up we now lose interest after responding habitually as if to an ex's booty call. By the way, I think peaceful mass street protests we baby boomers used to do back then in the 1970's is a perfect vehicle to convince democratic politicians to understand what their constituents want from them. I suggest we, as 'the people', should be doing this today, as well. It was very effective in the 1970's and it has been very effective all over the world since. Just saying.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Very much full of personal family stories and musings, and banterings between military colleagues, officers and administration. We learn of the McCain military history and the personal effects it has on it’s families; it’s a duty of honor. There’s a lot of military jargon and the background workings of the military, which a civilian might not know of, or truly understand. The McCain line of ancestry is quite impressive and is historically linked back in time to military involvement. This story, Very much full of personal family stories and musings, and banterings between military colleagues, officers and administration. We learn of the McCain military history and the personal effects it has on it’s families; it’s a duty of honor. There’s a lot of military jargon and the background workings of the military, which a civilian might not know of, or truly understand. The McCain line of ancestry is quite impressive and is historically linked back in time to military involvement. This story, overall, was very thought provoking. There were some parts I enjoyed reading about and others, not so much. I think if you have any kind of military knowledge and experience, it’s more understandable. The names and the workings of and war strategies of ships, aircraft, submarines, and special operations were confusing, though now I’m much more educated, thanks to this book. My father and relatives served in WWii and we were never told any stories at all of their action overseas; they were silent of all they experienced to the day they died. Viet Nam was an entirely different story... I struggled, as any human being and American citizen would, reading about McCain’s capture and brutal torture by the Vietnamese. The book ends rather abruptly with McCain’s release from the POW camp with just several pages after that. It briefly gives the reader his thoughts and feelings about the war, his family and his country; his hope, his sometimes reckless perseverance, his honor and commitment and courage to serve his country proudly, as he and his forefathers before him had.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    Before reading John McCain’s new book “The Restless Wave”, I decided to reread his book “Faith of My Fathers”. I originally read this book in 2009. I am glad I reviewed McCain’s life considering his cancer and the politics of the day. In “Faith of My Fathers” McCain reviews his early life and tells about the lives of his grandfather and father. Both men became 4-star admirals. His father was head of CINCPAC during part of the Viet Nam War. I found his stories about growing up as a “na Before reading John McCain’s new book “The Restless Wave”, I decided to reread his book “Faith of My Fathers”. I originally read this book in 2009. I am glad I reviewed McCain’s life considering his cancer and the politics of the day. In “Faith of My Fathers” McCain reviews his early life and tells about the lives of his grandfather and father. Both men became 4-star admirals. His father was head of CINCPAC during part of the Viet Nam War. I found his stories about growing up as a “navy brat” most interesting. The military culture is unique. McCain also covered his life as a POW. The story ends with his release from the POW facility. If McCain writes a book about his life from his release to the present, I would enjoy reading it. I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book is just about five hours. John McCain did a good job with the narration of the book. I enjoy listening to the author read his book particularly a well-known man like McCain whose voice I recognize.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    This book reminded me about everything I love and hate about patriotism. Although it initially dragged, (and I mean really dragged) McCain's stories of his internment in Vietnam along with his father's stories of being in a submarine while the Japanese were dropping depth charges were fascinating. But, it took him too long to get to the stories of his sacrifice for our country. The beginning of the book dealt with a lot of McCain's ancestry. He was trying to portray a sense of fate, b This book reminded me about everything I love and hate about patriotism. Although it initially dragged, (and I mean really dragged) McCain's stories of his internment in Vietnam along with his father's stories of being in a submarine while the Japanese were dropping depth charges were fascinating. But, it took him too long to get to the stories of his sacrifice for our country. The beginning of the book dealt with a lot of McCain's ancestry. He was trying to portray a sense of fate, but for those sections all I got was a sense of longwindedness. I'm flipping to a random page: "The Youngs, of the Clan Lamont from the Firth Cumbrae Islands, arrived in America earlier than the McCains, having first fled to Ireland during England's "Great Rebellion." In 1646, Mary Young Lamont and her four sons crossed ..." I know the book is marketed as a "family memoir," but this was too much. He dedicates a large portion of the book to his youthful follies. He definitely seemed to be a hell-raiser, which he attributed to a lot of things, including being small, moving a lot because of his father's military service, and the necessity of proving himself in each new enviornment. His grades suffered, and he was always in trouble. I think youthful folly ("My daredevil clowning had cut off electricity to a great many Spanish homes and created a small international incident) is a prerequisite for running for president - Bush, Obama, Kerry... I can't really picture Gore doing anything outlandish, but I'm sure he did... don't we all? Once in Vietnam, the book improved. After what he went through, one can understand why McCain was and is so vehemently opposed to torture. Although McCain agrees the war was mishandled, he never backs down that it should have been fought. I was impressed by the N.Viet. propaganda machine and often wonder about how those machines work today. You'd think they'd be a whole lot more efficient. I can't imagine how hard it would have been to keep faith in your country and compatriots when faced with such adversity. Wow. There was a great (and now well known) story of the POW who was with him who sewed an American flag, was tortured for it and that very night began sewing a new one. And that's where I'm torn on Patriotism. Love for country and faith in country are great and important. But they have to be tempered with individual principles and morality. I'm not always sure it's really possible to have both at all times, but you can see how McCain really worked toward it (even if he definitely leaned toward completely patriotic.) I worry about blind patriotism and I worry about anti-patriotism. On the ending pages he writes, "Many men who came home from Vietnam, physically and spiritually damaged, to what appeared to be a country that did not understand or appreciate their sacrifice." This book, at the very least, helped me understand that sacrifice a little more clearly.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sleeping with Ghosts

    Rest in Peace John McCain ✝29-08-1936 - 25-08-2018 Rest in Peace John McCain ✝️29-08-1936 - 25-08-2018

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Wow! I loved this book so much. John McCain is a great storyteller and he has many too tell. It was a fascinating and educational read, full of ups and downs. The things he indured throughout his navy carrier and as a POW are amazing and make me so proud of all those who serve our country. He has had so many close calls that I'm left feeling God has great work for this man to do. He strikes me as a humble man who is full of integrity and lives his life to the best of his ability (though he never Wow! I loved this book so much. John McCain is a great storyteller and he has many too tell. It was a fascinating and educational read, full of ups and downs. The things he indured throughout his navy carrier and as a POW are amazing and make me so proud of all those who serve our country. He has had so many close calls that I'm left feeling God has great work for this man to do. He strikes me as a humble man who is full of integrity and lives his life to the best of his ability (though he never claimed to be perfect). When he say's it's "country first" he means it. Senator McCain has lived a thousand lives in one, I'd love to sit and talk with him one day. Until I read this book, I had no idea of his long line of family members who were high ranking soldiers. While it's sad to read about the torture and inhumane treatment of the POW's it helped open my eyes and made me really think about our freedoms (big and small) and how they don't come easy. I am so grateful to the military families who sacrifice SO much for our country and I am so glad John McCain wrote this book. My boys have always been obsessed with anything military and I've worried that one of them will join one day...now I know if that day ever comes, I'll be proud and supportive and have fiath in God. This is a book I will ponder for a long time.

  7. 4 out of 5

    booklady

    Despite its unfortunate title, Faith of My Fathers is an incredible book which has almost nothing to do with organized religion and everything to do with living an honorable life. The 'faith' Senator McCain is speaking about only becomes apparent on page 257 of the book and it is spelled with a small 'f', meaning 'keeping faith with one's brothers', in particular under the uniquely horrendous circumstances he faced as an American in a Vietnamese Prisoner of War camp in the 1960s. To attempt to interpre Despite its unfortunate title, Faith of My Fathers is an incredible book which has almost nothing to do with organized religion and everything to do with living an honorable life. The 'faith' Senator McCain is speaking about only becomes apparent on page 257 of the book and it is spelled with a small 'f', meaning 'keeping faith with one's brothers', in particular under the uniquely horrendous circumstances he faced as an American in a Vietnamese Prisoner of War camp in the 1960s. To attempt to interpret the title out-of-context, especially today in light of the current Presidential race is totally inappropriate and inaccurate. For sentimental and/or personal reasons I am strongly inclined to give this book five stars. I admit it; I was incredibly moved by Senator McCain's suffering on behalf of our country. I admire patriots, especially humble ones. In FoMF he constantly downplays his own torture and punishment, insisting he was spared what most of his comrades suffered because of his four star father. Maybe he was and maybe he wasn't. It certainly didn't sound like he got off too easy. If you call two broken arms, a broken knee, bayoneted twice, deliberately getting your shoulder broken, starved, beaten, solitary confinement for years, tortured, interrogated, hung by your arms and broken bones going unset for months favorable treatment, well then I guess his famous father's position earned him some sort of 'special' status. I just don't see it. However, sympathy aside, the first half of the book is devoted to the history of Senator McCain's illustrious grandfather and father, both four star naval heros in their own rights. And while I recommend this sort of reading to my sea-loving father and my military husband and father-in-law, it can get a bit tedious to someone with no military background. It does, however, give anyone who wants to understand John McCain an excellent background on his family, their history, values, mannerisms and relationships. Also, McCain is very upfront and honest about his own youthful misadventures and all the hard knocks he took as a result. I liked him all the more for his humor and candor. I don't deny that I was prepared to like the book. I had seen the movie of the same name and knew what McCain suffered in Vietnam. Still I liked the book for more than just the facts of what happened; I liked it for the way it downplayed his actions and focused on his family and the men he served with. There were many little ways that the character of the author shone through his writing. Ultimately FoMF is a story about the Code of Conduct and what it meant to a group of young men who were tested to the utmost of their human endurance. In particular, McCain highlights one young man who he says never wavered in his commitment to the Code and died for his efforts. McCain confesses his worst fear during his five year ordeal in these words: 'My first concern was not that I might fail God and country, although I certainly hoped I would not. I was afraid to fail my friends. I was afraid to come back from an interrogation and tell them I couldn't hold up as well as they had...Had I accepted that many of the others had surrendered their dignity voluntarily, had agreed to live with such reproachful self-knowledge, I doubt I would have resisted to the extent that I did, and thus I would probably not have recovered from the shame I felt when I was broken...Glory belongs to the act of being constant to something greater than yourself, to a cause, to your principles, to the people on whom you rely and who rely on you in turn. No misfortune, no injury, no humiliation can destroy it.' (pp. 256-257) Unless we have experienced something of the magnitude of five years of systematic, unrelenting torture we can never know what it is like, but we can at least read about it, ponder it, value it and be grateful to the heroic patriots who have suffered and died for the sake of our country, for us. An excellent book! Read it--this month if you can! ><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>< We watched the movie by the same name the other night and were all moved by what Senator McCain went through during his five year ordeal as a POW in Vietnam. This is the book my daughter's English class should be reading on the Vietnam War instead of The Things They Carried but we have become a nation which has forgotten its heroes. Are we in denial, blind or bent on self-destruction? So far, the book is focused on McCain's grandfather and father, both four star Navy generals--the first ever father and son in the United States Navy to be so honored. They were both heroes in their own rights; Senator McCain had a hard double act to follow and yet he never flinched from it. His writing about himself is self-deprecating, humorous and unflinchingly honest. I like him!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    “People may not love you for being strong when you have to be, but they respect you for it and learn to behave themselves when you are.” Admiral Jack McCain father of Senator John McCain Combining 2 targets of recent study, the military and politics, I began John McCain’s book with heightened interest. In searching for the right candidate for the Presidency, John McCain has become the man that intrigues me most. Here is an obvious American Hero, an individual who has given his life in “People may not love you for being strong when you have to be, but they respect you for it and learn to behave themselves when you are.” Admiral Jack McCain father of Senator John McCain Combining 2 targets of recent study, the military and politics, I began John McCain’s book with heightened interest. In searching for the right candidate for the Presidency, John McCain has become the man that intrigues me most. Here is an obvious American Hero, an individual who has given his life in service to our Nation, first as a Naval Aviator, as a POW in Vietnam for almost 6 years, as a Senator, and as candidate for Commander in Chief. Yet, the Republican Party hierarchy is reacting to his candidacy with scorn and vitriol, why? Everything I’ve read about John McCain testifies to his valor, his underlying character, his willingness to die for his country. I am not the sort of person who passively accepts the opinions of the “experts.” As my children constantly are pointing out when I embarrass them with pointed questions, I am a person who likes to “know things.” John McCain has been called “The Maverick.” Well, I’m sort of a maverick too. My admiration piqued I began Faith of My Fathers and ordered the sequel Worth Fighting For. John McCain comes from a long line of Patriots. I can relate to much of his early family history. We both hail from the South, had ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War, the War Between the States, and WW2. In reading about his father and grandfather I am reminded of my own duty to remember and to record the lives of my forefathers as best I can. The second half of this book has been a difficult read. How does one write (and read!) words describing almost 6 years of mental and physical torture. How does one survive as a POW and having survived against incredible odds, enduring unbelievable pain, what does one do with life's subsequent liberty? If you are John McCain life equals sacrifice and service. His faith, patriotism and sense of honor never fail him. Bring on book 2! I wonder if come November there will be an entirely new John McCain sequal, history being written.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Faith of My Fathers is a MUST read for every American (regardless of your political affiliations). John McCain discusses his family legacy (both his grandfather and father served high positions in the military), and the impact those men had on his own military career. A good portion of the book is devoted to McCain's 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. Although I knew the basics of McCain's time as a POW, I found it extremely interesting and absolutely heartbreaking to hear of the Faith of My Fathers is a MUST read for every American (regardless of your political affiliations). John McCain discusses his family legacy (both his grandfather and father served high positions in the military), and the impact those men had on his own military career. A good portion of the book is devoted to McCain's 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. Although I knew the basics of McCain's time as a POW, I found it extremely interesting and absolutely heartbreaking to hear of the specific details of this horrendous experience. I shed many tears as I learned of the frequent beatings he sustained and the appalling conditions in which he lived. I was inspired by McCain's overwhelming love for his country and his cause, even though his imprisonment circumstances were a result of fighting a very unpopular war. I appreciated reading about the experiences of other POWs as well, and McCain is quick to point out that others had it even worse than he did. I came away from this book with an even greater appreciation for the tremendous sacrifice that McCain made for his country. The many lessons John McCain learned while imprisoned and the support and strength he gleaned from his fellow POWs are important for everyone to know. It was an honor to read about one of America's finest patriots. "We were a good country before Vietnam, and we are a good country after Vietnam. In all of history, you cannot find a better one." --John McCain

  10. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    While I don't share his politics this is a book worth reading. It's an interesting study of feeling that your path through life has been decided by forces not under your control. It also is an outstanding example of how a family name gives you a pass on many things. That said, John McCain rose above that when he was a POW and placed the good of the whole above himself and became a true hero, as did all of the other prisoners. I first wrote this review several years ago and decided to add a While I don't share his politics this is a book worth reading. It's an interesting study of feeling that your path through life has been decided by forces not under your control. It also is an outstanding example of how a family name gives you a pass on many things. That said, John McCain rose above that when he was a POW and placed the good of the whole above himself and became a true hero, as did all of the other prisoners. I first wrote this review several years ago and decided to add a note concerning my personal connection to John McCain. I served aboard the USS Hunt for two years and his description of the ship was the same as my initial thoughts as well. But like him I was wrong and mourned when it was put in mothballs shortly after I left in 1963. I also need to comment on the discussions around the books' title. Many reviewers seem to think that it refers to religious views. I interpreted it otherwise and a quick search turned up this quote from John McCain; "Glory belongs to the act of being constant to something greater than yourself, to a cause, to your principles. No misfortune, no injury, no humiliation can destroy it. This is the faith that my commanders affirmed, that my brothers-in-arms encouraged my allegiance to… It was my father and grandfather's faith. A filthy, broken man, all I had left of my dignity was the faith of my fathers. It was enough." Having served in the Navy I had that faith in my captain, my shipmates and my ship.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    Just like Obama's first book, this family memoir really tells you a lot about McCain. It goes into great length about his father's and grandfather's roles in WWII and the Vietnam War, which is both fascinating and a good history lesson. It also has many detailed chapters about his time as a POW. I'd challenge anyone to read this and not come away with a deeper appreciation for his service to our country. You always hear about his 5 1/2 years spent as a POW, but I think that concept is so foreign Just like Obama's first book, this family memoir really tells you a lot about McCain. It goes into great length about his father's and grandfather's roles in WWII and the Vietnam War, which is both fascinating and a good history lesson. It also has many detailed chapters about his time as a POW. I'd challenge anyone to read this and not come away with a deeper appreciation for his service to our country. You always hear about his 5 1/2 years spent as a POW, but I think that concept is so foreign to most people that you can't really understand or imagine what it must have been like. Not so after reading this book. I was continuously shocked to read descriptions that included phrases like "...during our first Christmas there" or "the next couple of years there..." It makes you think hard about how long 5 1/2 years really is. The main thing I'll take away from this book is a new appreciation for our military, but especially those who were POWs. Regarding the issue of what is torture and what isn't, I think I'll defer to McCain's judgement on that one every time. And even though some of their politics might be the same, I'll never again disparage John McCain by equating him with George Bush. There's clearly no comparison.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Eric K.

    The 5-star review is NOT an endorsement of McCain for President. His time and place was 2000, and the country and the world suffer for his loss to Bush in the GOP primaries. Now he's too old, too crotchety, and will with a mathematical certainty get the USA into a righteous and wholly unnecessary war with Iran. As it happens, so far I support Obama. But this book is extraordinary. McCain's father AND grandfather were admirals, but he never felt affection for or from them. He enrolled The 5-star review is NOT an endorsement of McCain for President. His time and place was 2000, and the country and the world suffer for his loss to Bush in the GOP primaries. Now he's too old, too crotchety, and will with a mathematical certainty get the USA into a righteous and wholly unnecessary war with Iran. As it happens, so far I support Obama. But this book is extraordinary. McCain's father AND grandfather were admirals, but he never felt affection for or from them. He enrolled in the Naval Academy because everyone always assumed he would, and spent the four years hating the casual sadism of the midshipmen and the idiocy of military life. He drank, and womanized, and barely graduated fourth from bottom of his class. Then his plane shot down over North Vietnam. The rash maverick who didn't care about anything learned about honor and duty while spending years in a POW camp being tortured by the NVA, suffering injuries which trouble him to this day. I won't vote for him again, but the man is a hero. Fer'real, yo.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lou Fillari

    Good little family memoir. It's titled Faith of My Fathers and dammit, he spoke about faith of his fathers. And being a POW. He made it sound treacherous, which was probably the goal. I've been debating between three and four stars all day but this story was nerve-wracking and intense. Honestly, I'm frightened of what Mac Kane will do to me if he finds out I only rated this three stars.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Wild

    Of all the biographies and memoirs written about American servicemen coming to terms with their humanity, few are as powerful and unforgettable as "Faith of My Fathers" by John S. McCain III. McCain was almost certainly destined to be a Naval hero. John's father was a successful submarine commander and a grandson of a famous fleet admiral, who both served in WWII. But, John's destiny was threatened by less than stellar behavior both in high school, and in the Naval Academy. By th Of all the biographies and memoirs written about American servicemen coming to terms with their humanity, few are as powerful and unforgettable as "Faith of My Fathers" by John S. McCain III. McCain was almost certainly destined to be a Naval hero. John's father was a successful submarine commander and a grandson of a famous fleet admiral, who both served in WWII. But, John's destiny was threatened by less than stellar behavior both in high school, and in the Naval Academy. By the time he graduated from the Academy in 1958, John had a reputation as somewhat of a rogue, a trouble maker who didn't always see eye to eye with authority. This notwithstanding, John recalls how his grandfather made the grade as a four-star admiral, and contributed to the crucial turning point of the Naval air war against the Japanese in 1944-1945. John also describes his father Jack, a highly respectable submariner who commandeered many combat missions against Japanese merchant and naval ships during the Pacific theater. Jack went on to be the Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Command during the Vietnam War, 1968-1972. When John turns his memoirs to himself, he knew that he wanted to fly, as his grandfather did, and he also wanted to carry on the McCain tradition as a solid, dependable officer and gentleman. His aviation career came to a dramatic end, when the fighter-bomber he was flying was shot down over Hanoi in 1967. His captivity, and torture carried out by the North Vietnamese comprises the main part of his memoirs. For 5 1/2 years, John McCain endured inhumane acts of barbarism, as the war dragged on senselessly by the poor decisions made by Washington politicians. John's true mettle was tested every day. Some days were far worse than others, but he kept his focus on the strength gained from his faith, duty and honor, all three of which were ingrained in him by his father and grandfather. Even though the North Vietnamese offered to release him a number of times, John refused, and made a stalwart effort to encourage his fellow prisoners simply by being a "thorn in the enemy's behind". John was released in 1973 following the Paris Peace accords. One of John's most enduring remarks was, "Nothing in life is more liberating than to fight for a cause larger than yourself, something that encompasses you but is not defined by your existence alone." This was an outstanding book exemplary of the late Senator's remarkable strength of character.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael Sample

    The memoir Faith of My Fathers by John McCain and Mark Salter is an incredibly moving and important story. It provides an extremely detailed view into McCain’s experiences throughout the Vietnam War. This book made me wish that one day war will be irrelevant and all the atrocities that come with it will end. This book takes place during the Vietnam war, an extremely violent and deadly war. Not only did countless people die during the war, but once american soldiers were captured by Vi The memoir Faith of My Fathers by John McCain and Mark Salter is an incredibly moving and important story. It provides an extremely detailed view into McCain’s experiences throughout the Vietnam War. This book made me wish that one day war will be irrelevant and all the atrocities that come with it will end. This book takes place during the Vietnam war, an extremely violent and deadly war. Not only did countless people die during the war, but once american soldiers were captured by Vietnam, they were brutally tortured and questioned nearly to death. As described in this memoir, POWs were treated awfully, fed scraps, beaten for seemingly no reason, and forced to speak against their own country in propaganda videos. They would go against worldwide POW laws to destroy their prisoners physically and mentally, and take away their dignity. I would love to see a world without these horrible acts of violence and hate. This book made me realize how much a parent of grandparent can impact your life. Throughout his most of his young life, McCain spent his time with his mother, who influenced his personality greatly. Despite not seeing them very often, his father and grandfather really impacted who he was as a person. After all their success in the military, he wanted to be just like them, but not only from a military standpoint. His father and grandfather made sure to instill excellent human characteristics in McCain from a young age. They wanted to make sure that no matter what he ended up doing in his life, he would become an excellent person. This book made me wonder about what purpose the Navy serves in the military. As described in the book, they serve above water, in the air, and deep underwater. While all three characters described their personal experiences in their specific line of work, there wasn’t any mention to the other sections of their branch of the military. Due to this, I wondered how all three of those parts worked in tandem with each other to protect the U.S. I also wondered what exactly they did when the U.S. was not fighting in a war. Overall, this memoir made me wonder about an aspect of the U.S. military that I did not know much about. This book made me see that life in the Navy is incredibly difficult, and requires extremely courageous people. The scenes described in the memoir are incredibly vivid and well written. McCain, his father, and his grandfather all served different roles in the Navy, and many of their stories are portrayed in this book. His grandfather served on a battleship, his father worked on a submarine below the surface, and McCain himself was a Navy pilot. These stories are beautifully described and highlights the courage and bravery of all of the people serving. After reading this book, I can clearly tell that serving in any military branch takes incredible amounts of courage. This book made me believe that more people will understand and act on the awful treatment of fellow people everywhere. This book and other similar memoirs have described awful acts of hate in the world. While it may seem like that these events described in the book occurred in the past, it was not that long ago. To this day, many people are still treated horribly based off of aspects that are out of their control. However, I believe that Faith of My Fathers and books like it can highlight the injustices of the world and lead to people realizing how terrible these hate-based actions are. This book made me feel that there can be hope in any situation. No matter what happened to any of the prisoners at these camps, they always stuck together and held on to that sliver of hope that they had left. While at most times it seemed extremely bleak for the captives of these camps, they always tried to keep a positive mindset to push through. Throughout the course of the memoir, the characters were hopeful for a better future no matter what adversity they faced. I could definitely feel hopeful for the characters as the story progressed. This book made me hope that people will become much more accepting of each other. This book highlighted a very dark point in human history filled with a lot of hate and violence. This memoir portrayed one man’s experience in a brutal prisoner of war camp. He shows the amount of hate aimed at him and his fellow prisoners, and how it impacted them. I think that reading this will show that hate is not the answer and can only lead to more violence and injustice.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    I recently got to visit an Air Force base and briefly spend time in an F-16 simulator, and that caused me to bump this book up to the top of my reading list. (I know John McCain was in the Navy, not the Air Force, but I was curious to know more about life as a military pilot.) McCain obviously had a tremendous amount of respect for his father and grandfather. However, I found the beginning part of the book - when he talks about them - to be only mildly interesting. It's not objective enough to b I recently got to visit an Air Force base and briefly spend time in an F-16 simulator, and that caused me to bump this book up to the top of my reading list. (I know John McCain was in the Navy, not the Air Force, but I was curious to know more about life as a military pilot.) McCain obviously had a tremendous amount of respect for his father and grandfather. However, I found the beginning part of the book - when he talks about them - to be only mildly interesting. It's not objective enough to be true biography, and I don't have enough connection to them to be invested in learning their stories. The reason you need to read this book is to read about McCain's experiences as a POW in Vietnam. Wow. What these men had to endure - for YEARS - is just incredible, in the literal sense of the word. I read a lot about the Vietnam war before traveling to Vietnam in 2012. What I read convinced me that this was a fight the US should have never involved itself in. This book hasn't changed my assessment, but it has given me insight into how important it was for the soldiers to feel the support of the American people.

  17. 4 out of 5

    kyersten

    John McCain said he had a "sense that it would fall to him to represent his family when the history of his generation was recorded." Maybe that was one of the reasons why he wrote "Faith of my Fathers". I am probably not the typical person to read this type of memoir. I'm not really interested in the details of military service, or war time stories, but this book is much more than that. I found it to be quite insightful. When his grandfather said, "dying for your principles and country was a pri John McCain said he had a "sense that it would fall to him to represent his family when the history of his generation was recorded." Maybe that was one of the reasons why he wrote "Faith of my Fathers". I am probably not the typical person to read this type of memoir. I'm not really interested in the details of military service, or war time stories, but this book is much more than that. I found it to be quite insightful. When his grandfather said, "dying for your principles and country was a privilage." I realized this book was more than just a military family climbing the ranks. It became an example to me of great American Patriotism. As Americans, "We have the obligation to use our freedom wisely, to select well from all the choices freedom offers." I guess a lot of what I read held more weight because of the current events concerning McCain and Obama. I have concerns that the people of this country even know how to use their "Freedom Wisely" John McCain upheld the "Code of Conduct" to the best of his ability. Even under horrific trials he experienced as a P.O.W in Hanoi. " I will never forget that I am am American. fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in God and the United States of America." (Wouldn't it be nice if civilians upheld this "Code of Conduct") His captors did everything they could to break him of his faith. He said, "The purpose of our captors inhumanity to us was nothing less than to force our descent into a world of total faithlessness: a world with no God, no country, no loyalty. Without Faith, we would lose our dignity, and live among our enemies as animals live among their human masters." Thank God for America and for the brave that keep it free.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ray

    I had mixed feelings about McCain going into this book. I finished it, and in some ways I am more confused. Not because the book wasn't clarifying -- it added ALOT to my picture of McCain. The problem is that the more you know him the more complicated you realize he is. This is NOT your typical ghost written 'campaign' autobio. (though I'm sure his help from Mark Salter was considerable). This is a VERY honest and revelatory account of his pre-political life and that of his family. He is open, s I had mixed feelings about McCain going into this book. I finished it, and in some ways I am more confused. Not because the book wasn't clarifying -- it added ALOT to my picture of McCain. The problem is that the more you know him the more complicated you realize he is. This is NOT your typical ghost written 'campaign' autobio. (though I'm sure his help from Mark Salter was considerable). This is a VERY honest and revelatory account of his pre-political life and that of his family. He is open, shockingly so, about his morally questionable adventures --- womanizing, partying, brawling, rebelliousness, lack of respect for some authority figures. I don't think he hid much. And he's not really very apologetic in the end. His attitude seems to be "this is what I've done. I've grown up, but I'm still taht guy in some ways. Take it or leave it," And some of that persona is truly exceptional, and pretty attractive. He is very bright. Very, very, very fearless, roughed. A real patriot. His torture experiences may or may not make him more qualified for president, but they certainly show him to be courageous beyond imagination. That he had a clear OUT and didn't take it after several years of staggering abuse..... Just stunning. Don't think this book made me more or less likely to vote for him. But it was the best political autobio I have read in awhile.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    Excellent book, well written, and engaging. I wanted to read this book to learn a bit more about John McCain. To be fair to both presidential candidates, I also plan to read Barack Obama's autobiography, not because I like or support him, but because I want to know more about him. Let me emphasize the fact that I do not plan on reading it because I like him, support him, or agree with his views (in fact, I feel quite the opposite), but to learn more about him. Anyways. Back to John Mc Excellent book, well written, and engaging. I wanted to read this book to learn a bit more about John McCain. To be fair to both presidential candidates, I also plan to read Barack Obama's autobiography, not because I like or support him, but because I want to know more about him. Let me emphasize the fact that I do not plan on reading it because I like him, support him, or agree with his views (in fact, I feel quite the opposite), but to learn more about him. Anyways. Back to John McCain. This book (his autobiography) gives a good description of his grandfather's, father's, and his own life. It goes into depth about his own war experiences as a POW in Vietnam, and gives some insights into his character. *****WARNING!***** DO NOT READ THIS BOOK WITHOUT HAVING YOUR PARENTS PRE-READ IT! My parents read it before me, and they decided that the good in the book outweighed the bad. They trust my discretion and responsibility not to be influenced by the negatives. Which are: (so your parents know what to watch out for in the event that they proofread it) Some inappropriate strong language Some war-related situational content I will recapitulate: DO NOT READ THIS BOOK WITHOUT HAVING YOUR PARENTS PRE-READ IT!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Chrissy

    You’re probably saying to yourself “I have heard of family values but I really don’t know what it is.” The meaning of this phrase is simply put as a political and social concept used in many cultures to describe what is expecting. In the book “Faith of My Fathers”, John McCain III tries to follow in his father and paternal grandfather’s footsteps by enrolling in the navy. His family was very big on military and fighting for your country. To be a son and grandson of two men that have both ranked You’re probably saying to yourself “I have heard of family values but I really don’t know what it is.” The meaning of this phrase is simply put as a political and social concept used in many cultures to describe what is expecting. In the book “Faith of My Fathers”, John McCain III tries to follow in his father and paternal grandfather’s footsteps by enrolling in the navy. His family was very big on military and fighting for your country. To be a son and grandson of two men that have both ranked four star admirals. This would be a big task for John. His grandfather was the third fleet in World War II and his father was a submarine commander in the same war. The McCain’s became the first family in history to achieve that distinction. With a background like that, you would think that John McCain III would be a star pupil in the navy academy but he fought every chance he had and ranked 5th from the last in his class. John also had poor grades, gambled a lot and drunk heavily. These were not star qualities for a child from a strict military background. Not doing the best he could, John was on the verge of getting kicked out of the academy.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brandon O'Neill

    My goal was to read a McCain and Obama book by the time of the election. I feel more comfy with McCain so he got the nod. This is not a political book in the sense that it is not about current policy. It is a memoir of his grandfather, father, and his own experiences in war. Anything political in his book refers to Vietnam. The first third of the book was OK. It dealt with his grandfather and father's experiences in WWII, mainly. The book kicked into high gear for me when he talks about himsel My goal was to read a McCain and Obama book by the time of the election. I feel more comfy with McCain so he got the nod. This is not a political book in the sense that it is not about current policy. It is a memoir of his grandfather, father, and his own experiences in war. Anything political in his book refers to Vietnam. The first third of the book was OK. It dealt with his grandfather and father's experiences in WWII, mainly. The book kicked into high gear for me when he talks about himself. For most of the Vietman war, McCain was a prisoner of war, so the majority of his tale is about that miserable experience. It was pretty darn amazing. Whether you will vote for him for president or not is irrelevant. His tale was like reading tales about the Holocaust in the sense that it is a horrible, yet fascinating subject. Getting beat with a fan belt, having boils the size of baseballs from the heat, and on and on, yet retaining your humanity and concern for those you are with is pretty amazing. I know that McCain is against having prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, but for people to call that torture or inhumane is asinine after you read what real torture is.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Chris Munson

    Obviously, I’d heard a little bit about McCain’s military service and some of his personal story during the 2008 presidential election. But, I really still didn’t know much about him. So, I thought it time to pick up his autobiography as the next election cycle begins to heat up. Surprisingly, there really isn't any political content - so don't be put off from reading the book if you don't lean to the right. The book details three generations of McCain warriors, including his grandfather's and f Obviously, I’d heard a little bit about McCain’s military service and some of his personal story during the 2008 presidential election. But, I really still didn’t know much about him. So, I thought it time to pick up his autobiography as the next election cycle begins to heat up. Surprisingly, there really isn't any political content - so don't be put off from reading the book if you don't lean to the right. The book details three generations of McCain warriors, including his grandfather's and father's exploits during WWII and his own horrific experiences during the Vietnam War. The stories about his father and grandfather were extremely interesting and do an outstanding job of setting the stage for McCain's future - and the expectations that led him into becoming a 3rd generation Navy man. A great story of courage, perseverance, and human dignity. The best word to describe McCain: Hero.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jack W Perry

    Regardless of one's political perspective, this is a book to be read. It is a great story. McCain showed great courage and honor during his 5.5 years in a Viet-Nam POW camp. He was tortured and abused. He survived. He is an American hero. I don't always agree with his politics, but I do respect him. He is not some tin-soldier war-hawk that hides behind his political office. Recently he voted for the latest gun-control bill. He was one of four GOP members to do so. He is som Regardless of one's political perspective, this is a book to be read. It is a great story. McCain showed great courage and honor during his 5.5 years in a Viet-Nam POW camp. He was tortured and abused. He survived. He is an American hero. I don't always agree with his politics, but I do respect him. He is not some tin-soldier war-hawk that hides behind his political office. Recently he voted for the latest gun-control bill. He was one of four GOP members to do so. He is someone the GOP should listen to on this issue. But, back to the book. McCain's story is riveting. I read it when it first was published and the story remains one worth repeating and remembering.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dennis C.

    I gained a lot of respect for John McCain after reading this. I came away from believing McCain is steadfast and sincere in his convictions about the war in Iraq. At the same time i disagree wholeheartedly with his conclusions about Vietnam. I read this while traveling to Vietnam. After touring Hanoi and visiting a Vietnam War museum there, it becomes clear our leaders view of the war and the way the people of Vietnam viewed it were very different. Iraq seems to be a continuation of our leader's I gained a lot of respect for John McCain after reading this. I came away from believing McCain is steadfast and sincere in his convictions about the war in Iraq. At the same time i disagree wholeheartedly with his conclusions about Vietnam. I read this while traveling to Vietnam. After touring Hanoi and visiting a Vietnam War museum there, it becomes clear our leaders view of the war and the way the people of Vietnam viewed it were very different. Iraq seems to be a continuation of our leader's inability to empathize with how others may view military action.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kenneth Flusche

    Well Done...... My only disagreement with Mr. McCain is his insistence that the Military could have won the war in Vietnam. He truly believes that and I can honor him for sticking to it. Using his argument then the Brits could have won our First War and the South could have won the Worst War. He states his case with Honor but his enemy North Vietnam was not the enemy in this war. My generations War ..........

  26. 4 out of 5

    Justin Wright

    An exceptionally honest and vivid account of the horrors faced by POWs in Vietnam, and the influences and experiences that led John McCain there. I have to wonder if I could held out under such mental and physical anguish for such a long number of years to return with honor. A true picture of faith in God, Country, and his fellow brothers in arms.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    Entertainment-0 Stars Education- 1 Star Readability- 1 star Innovation- 0 Stars Inspiration- 0 Stars I read this book to get an impression of what John McCain is like. How we see ourselves and how others see us are usually quite different. I think that McCain’s strengths are that he is strong willed, and he was extremely committed to his fellow service members, his country and Navy tradition. His real weakness is that he can’t see anything outside this narrow tunne Entertainment-0 Stars Education- 1 Star Readability- 1 star Innovation- 0 Stars Inspiration- 0 Stars I read this book to get an impression of what John McCain is like. How we see ourselves and how others see us are usually quite different. I think that McCain’s strengths are that he is strong willed, and he was extremely committed to his fellow service members, his country and Navy tradition. His real weakness is that he can’t see anything outside this narrow tunnel of existence. I don’t want to be unfair about it, but if you make absolute statements about things, they inevitably come back to haunt you. I would also say that I think that McCain is an honorable man. He chose to serve his country in the military and made many personal sacrifices for what he thought was right. Whether those sacrifices were needed or justifiable is apparently off the table as he never makes any mention of if they were the right thing for America to do or not. Where I find him to be weakest is in that he never questions if the values or actions of the politicians in charge are correct. Blind obedience is just that, and not necessarily an honorable pursuit. On an officers duties and honor he says the following: Page 66 “An officer must not lie, steal, or cheat, ever.” Page 125 “My friends and I got a hold of Witt’s cruise box and changed the address to a fraternity at an Ivy League School, where it arrived some days later, never to be recovered by its puzzled owner”. McCain speaks a lot about the honor code and how no one ever violates it the Naval Academy. He then describes how he deprived another Midshipman of his personal property for his perceived unfair treatment. Seems to me that mistreatment is part of the program at the Naval Academy, and that some people exercise that task with more enthusiasm than others. Later as a prisoner he openly lies to the enemy. Page 191”Take me to the hospital and I’ll give you the information you want’” I didn’t intend to keep my word …” I certainly don’t fault him for that, but under the code he should not have said anything. He did what he had to stay alive, and probably didn’t harm anyone else by doing it. I don’t see him mentioning a clause allowing exceptions to not lying. I think he just supports my contention that there should be no absolutes. Later on Page 297 McCain stole a washrag from a fellow prisoner. “When the next day I saw a rag hanging on the line I took it and joyfully used it for days” While this might seem like a huge deal, it really was in the context of where he was and he expressed great regret about this action. The washrags were treasures and one of the few things that allowed the prisoners to maintain some degree of humanity under awful conditions. Depriving another prisoner was not an honorable thing to do, but it was a human and understandable thing to do. Again this would seem to be an exception to the code. While he seems to cling to the Naval traditions and the code he never admits the flaws or holes in them. My Grandfather was a survivor of a Japanese prisoner or war camp during World War II. He was undoubtedly the toughest man I will ever know. He was good to his family and I think in his heart a good man. Still he had his flaws, which I chose not to go into further. Nobody is perfect. Nor is any institution. McCain sees his Grandfather, Father, the Navy, and the USA as perfect. I think this leads to some serious mistakes in judgment. Here are another examples of not seeing the whole picture. At the very least of seeing certain aspects of his life through rose colored glasses. Page 69 on McCain's Dad, quoted statement by his brother. “I never knew a more honest man than my father. I cannot think of a single time he did not tell the truth about something, as best he knew it”. Page 72 “On leave at Midway they steal a plaque and tear up the bar. They also stole furniture and destroyed it.” Okay, everyone has done some things they regret. He involved his men in this escapade and did a lot of other things that I won’t go into in detail. Honest men make mistakes and are not perfect. The main reason I say this is I didn’t really get the sense that McCain thought that this was out of character with being “honest”. McCain seems to have the ability to see things one when for his side and another for his opponents. He had the following to say on hating your enemies: Page 76 “My grandfather as combatants often do, needed to work up a powerful hate for his enemy. He once recommended of the Japanese “ killing them all-painfully”. Hate is an understandable reaction to the losses and atrocities suffered at the hands of the enemy. But hate also sustains the fighter in his devotion to the complete destruction of his enemy and helps to overcome the virtuous human impulse to recoil in disgust from what must be done by your hand.” Page 84 quoting McCain’s dad “and exhorted the men to marital glory. “ Fellows, were going to fight the goddamn Japanese. We are going to find ‘em and fight ‘em wherever the hell they are. We’re gonna fight the bastards and we’re gonna lick ‘em. We’re not going to let these Japs hide from us. We’ll fight them even if we have to go into their harbors and they’re going to be goddamn sorry we did” The Japanese Empire was evil. They attacked the weak and the strong. They did a lot of really bad things. I will make no defense of their actions. I think the problem is that men are willing to put aside their humanity and kill each other when told that the other side is the enemy. Clearly the Japanese felt the same way about us. He talked about how cruel the Viet Cong were to him as a prisoner. There is no disputing this and no one deserves to suffer as he and his fellow prisoners did. He ignores though that there were probably as many brutalities inflicted by the South Vietnamese and our own CIA. Also we dropped more bombs on the Viet Cong than were dropped in all of WW II (or so I have heard, I can’t site a source on that). On Page 192 “There were few amputees among the POW’s who survived their imprisonment. The Vietnamese usually refused treatment to the seriously injured. I don’t know if they were negligent for purposes of cost efficiency, reasoning that Americans were unused to unsanitary conditions, were more likely to develop fatal infections following an amputation or if they refused to treat us simply because they hated us. Whatever the reason a lot of men died who shouldn’t have, the genuine victims of war crimes.” Page 224 “The Bug was a sadist. Or at least his hate for us was so irrational it drove him to sadism.” He was famous for accusing prisoners of killing his mother. Given the wildness of his rage, I often feared we had.” So when you drop bombs on people and support a corrupt regime people will fight total warfare using any means necessary. It is an unfortunate fact, but we can’t see the US as being perfect and only fighting just wars given our history. He also somehow misses that in the earlier chapters he was talking about how the US used hate to fight wars against Japan. Yet he seems surprised that the Viet Cong would hate and be so vicious to him. Maybe he knew he was right and they were wrong and wasn’t willing to put himself in their position. This is a most dangerous and sad way to go through life. My final complaint about being blind covers propaganda and how we see America. I could be equally as blind, and have been in past. I think I have gotten better at it, but maybe I am just being blind again. In several sections he talks about how bad the Viet Cong propaganda is and how he can’t wait to get home to the US for some real news. Has he seen our press? Everything has bias and bullshit in it. It is up to each of us to sort through the bullshit and try to come up with what is real. While I love my fellow Americans, if you look at our history unfiltered you should really have some doubts about what we have done. Slavery, racism, sexism, intolerance, hatred, conquering natives, and other countries, and imposing our values seem to be our true history upon examination. If you consider all the things you should have at least a little doubt about what our nation stands for and try to make it better. We have made some progress, but on the whole I don’t think we should see ourselves as perfect as Senator McCain appears to believe. Page 220-221 “But the thing I missed most was information- free, uncensored, undistorted and abundant information” Page 334 “I am relieved that America’s self doubt has lifted. America has a long, accomplished and honorable history. We should never let this one mistake terrible though it was color forever our perceptions of our country’s purpose. We were a good country before Vietnam and we are a good country after Vietnam. In all of history you cannot find a better one.” My final comment is that I hope he lives up to what he said he believes in here. I fully agree on him on this statement and hopefully he lives up to it. It sad that we are so willing to let our brothers, sisters, sons and daughters die in a war that was so unnecessary. If we each tried to pay a little more attention and to make our country be a little bit better by holding government accountable maybe we can avoid future wars such as this. Sadly I don’t think Senator McCain believes this any more. Page 335 “No other national endeavor requires as much unshakable resolve as war. If the government and the nation lack that resolve, it is criminal to expect men the field to carry it out alone.”

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rich O'connor

    One of the best books I’ve ever read. I rarely agreed with McCain’s politics but always admired his story.

  29. 5 out of 5

    DonnaJo Jo Pallini

    John McCain’s father and grandfather were great influences in his life and it is very heartwarming to read of their families memoirs. Also, even though it was tough to read of the horrors as POW, our military deserve our upmost respect. Thank you for your service.

  30. 4 out of 5

    John

    As a service academy graduate and former Naval Officer, I very much enjoyed this book. From a historical perspective, we learned a lot about John's grandfather and father, both Navy admirals who set the tone for John's ideals and ethics. About a third of the book is about John's living hell as a POW in Vietnam.

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