If, as you're reading John McCain: An American Odyssey, you feel a sense of déjà vu, don't be alarmed--you may very well have read this book before. Robert Timberg has extracted from his 1995 book The Nightingale's Song, which dealt with several Naval Academy graduates who went on to serve in Vietnam, those passages that involved Senator John McCain, a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 2000 presidential elections. To this Timberg has added some new, updated material.
Roughly half of this story is covered in McCain's own memoir, Faith of My Fathers, including McCain's early military career and an internment in a North Vietnamese POW camp that lasted nearly six years. But it's presented here from an objective, journalistic perspective (and Timberg's own stint at Annapolis informs the sections on the Naval Academy immeasurably). But there's also strong material on McCain's political career, from his first campaigns in Arizona through the dark days of his involvement in the "Keating Five" scandal of the early '90s up to his role in 1999 as a critic of American involvement in the NATO attack on Serbia (which, McCain said, wasn't strong enough).
To buy or not to buy: that is the question. Librarians may recall Timberg's The Nightingale's Song (1995), which took a nuanced look at the U.S. Naval Academy and its role in American life by examining the careers of five graduates: McCain; Iran-contra figures Oliver North, John Poindexter, and Bud McFarlane; and novelist and former navy secretary James Webb. In this volume, the author draws on his earlier McCain research but adds "new chapters on McCain's boyhood and youth, on the Keating Five scandal, and on the years since that ordeal ended," as well as a recast Prologue and a new Epilogue. Timberg, himself an Academy graduate, was White House correspondent for the Baltimore Sun during the Reagan administration; he is now deputy chief of that paper's Washington bureau. Where interest in the Arizona senator's presidential candidacy is strong, this focused volume may be popular, especially because McCain's own recent work (Faith of My Fathers ) covers only the military careers of the senator and his father and grandfather. Mary Carroll
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