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McCain: The Myth of a Maverick Hardcover – October 16, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Trade; 1st edition (October 16, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230603963
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230603967
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,658,921 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"How the journalistic elite got taken for a ride on the Straight Talk Express is one of the revelatory sagas of modern-day Washington. Matt Welch has the audacity to think that John McCain's views matter, not only his legends, and he smokes out McCain with gusto. You don't have to follow him every inch of the way into libertarian politics--as I do not--to be dazzled by the light he casts on a telling tragedy of American politics."--Todd Gitlin, author of The Bulldozer and the Big Tent: Blind Republicans, Lame Democrats, and the Recovery of American Ideals
 
"John McCain's love affair with the news media is a decade old. But McCain makes clear that that love affair is over."--Glenn Reynolds, author of An Army of Davids: How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government, and Other Goliaths, and blogger at Instapundit
 
Praise for Matt Welch's Op-Ed piece on John McCain in the Los Angeles Times, "Do We Really Need Another T.R.?":
 
"I hope a lot of Americans read Matt Welch’s definitive LAT editorial on the subject of McCain’s political philosophy.... [I]t should be a reputation-maker for Welch."-- Colby Cosh, columnist for Canada’s National Post
 
"Congratulations to the LAT’s Matt Welch for this morning’s penetrating column on John McCain.... Listen up, pundits. Matt Welch has sent you a signal. It won’t kill you to look into the mind of the desert angel and see what he thinks." -- Todd Gitlin, author of The Intellectuals and the Flag
 
"The redoubtable Matt Welch does the unconscionable today: he writes an op-ed for the LA Times in which he examines John McCain’s actual views on the issues.... Hear hear.... [McCain’s] flip-flops get a lot of attention mainly because they’re easy to find and satisfying to point out. Actually looking past his occasionally “maverick” views is far more important." -- Kevin Drum, The Washington Monthly
 
"Matt Welch of the Los Angeles Times does a significant public service in exposing John McCain’s intrusive, statist agenda." --Doug Bandow, author of Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire
 
"Kudos to Matt Welch for managing to reveal some truths about St. McCain without falling into the usual trap of trying to argue about where he actually fits on the imaginary political spectrum and instead just telling us what the dude thinks about things." --Duncan Black, proprietor of the Eschaton (Atrios) blog
 
"[A]n astute analysis." --Joel Connolly, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
 
"Great op-ed by Matt Welch on what John McCain actually thinks about the world." --Matthew Yglesias, The American Prospect
 
"Matt Welch, now with the Los Angeles Times, perspicaciously sizes up everyone’s favorite politician -- especially given that no one seems to actually care about his political beliefs -- Sen. John McCain. [...] [R]ead the whole thing, before this whole “McCain for President” thing goes too far." -- Brian Dohery, Reason
 
 
 
 

From the Inside Flap

"How the journalistic elite got taken for a ride on the Straight Talk Express is one of the revelatory sagas of modern-day Washington. Matt Welch has the audacity to think that John McCain's views matter, not only his legends, and he smokes out McCain with gusto. You don't have to follow him every inch of the way into libertarian politics--as I do not--to be dazzled by the light he casts on a telling tragedy of American politics."--Todd Gitlin, author of The Bulldozer and the Big Tent: Blind Republicans, Lame Democrats, and the Recovery of American Ideals

"John McCain's love affair with the news media is a decade old. But McCain makes clear that that love affair is over."--Glenn Reynolds, author of An Army of Davids: How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government, and Other Goliaths, and blogger at Instapundit

Praise for Matt Welch's Op-Ed piece on John McCain in the Los Angeles Times, "Do We Really Need Another T.R.?":

"I hope a lot of Americans read Matt Welch's definitive LAT editorial on the subject of McCain's political philosophy.... [I]t should be a reputation-maker for Welch."-- Colby Cosh, columnist for Canada's National Post

"Congratulations to the LAT's Matt Welch for this morning's penetrating column on John McCain.... Listen up, pundits. Matt Welch has sent you a signal. It won't kill you to look into the mind of the desert angel and see what he thinks." -- Todd Gitlin, author of The Intellectuals and the Flag

"The redoubtable Matt Welch does the unconscionable today: he writes an op-ed for the LA Times in which he examines John McCain's actual views on the issues.... Hear hear.... [McCain's] flip-flops get a lot of attention mainly because they're easy to find and satisfying to point out. Actually looking past his occasionally "maverick" views is far more important." -- Kevin Drum, The Washington Monthly

"Matt Welch of the Los Angeles Times does a significant public service in exposing John McCain's intrusive, statist agenda." --Doug Bandow, author of Foreign Follies: America's New Global Empire

"Kudos to Matt Welch for managing to reveal some truths about St. McCain without falling into the usual trap of trying to argue about where he actually fits on the imaginary political spectrum and instead just telling us what the dude thinks about things." --Duncan Black, proprietor of the Eschaton (Atrios) blog

"[A]n astute analysis." --Joel Connolly, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"Great op-ed by Matt Welch on what John McCain actually thinks about the world." --Matthew Yglesias, The American Prospect

"Matt Welch, now with the Los Angeles Times, perspicaciously sizes up everyone's favorite politician -- especially given that no one seems to actually care about his political beliefs -- Sen. John McCain. [...] [R]ead the whole thing, before this whole "McCain for President" thing goes too far." -- Brian Dohery, Reason


More About the Author

Matt Welch is editor in chief of Reason magazine, co-host of The Independents on Fox Business Network, and author of two books: McCain: The Myth of a Maverick (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007) and (with Nick Gillespie) The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America (Public Affairs, 2011).

Customer Reviews

Make sure you read it in the very near future.
David Thomson
The establishment media's love affair with the media.
Lance B. Sjogren
The tone is matter-of-fact, and not vociferous.
Edwin C. Pauzer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

188 of 199 people found the following review helpful By Edwin C. Pauzer VINE VOICE on May 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Author Matt Welch provides a warning that if John McCain becomes the next President of the United States we as a nation may well have jumped from the frying pan into the fire. In this book, he tells us where McCain has come from, what he does, what he thinks, and where he is going if he becomes the chief executive.

McCain comes from a very long military tradition in which his father and grandfather served as admirals. Reared in and near the capital where he lived most of his life (!) with a heavy dose of paternal influence, and an education at an expensive preparatory school and the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, John McCain sees himself as the romantic and fatalistic warrior Robert Jordan from "For Whom the Bells Toll." He prides himself on being rebellious, yet principled.

What he does is divorce his wife who kept the family together raising three children in spite of a bad automobile accident that gave her permanent injuries, while he was in captivity. Lieutenant Commander McCain is no sooner back in D. C. when he begins several extramarital affairs, and chases after a beer heiress seventeen years his junior. He decides to jump into politics declaring that Arizona, the headquarters of the distributorship, is to be his home state. Claiming to be in the tradition of Barry Goldwater and the representative of the common man, he is neither liked by Goldwater, nor ever found amongst the working or poorer classes of his constituency preferring the company of the wealthy.

In the tradition of his alcoholic father, McCain believes that principles and honesty are the most important things even if the latter and the condition seem incompatible.
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68 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Steven E. Smith on December 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Matt Welch brings back a tradition in biography that was once a hallmark in American politics, but has declined in the last twenty years: the sober-minded character study. Taking a page from Garry Wills, Henry Adams and Theodore White, Welch sets out to examine something in his subject that is all too easily forgotten in today's pundit-dominated political coverage: what does McCain actually believe? Not a hatchet job by any stretch of the imagination: although writing as a libertarian critic, Welch is fair enough to his subject that he allows the reader to form his own conclusions about McCain's stances on issues like campaign bribery reform, while delineating the clear rupture between the small government, pro-privacy but anti-Civil Rights tradition of Goldwater and the activist, big government conservatism of McCain and Bush. A must-read for the 2008 campaign.
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful By C. Ziegler-McPherson on January 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I have read a lot of biographies of political figures -Woodrow Wilson; Theodore Roosevelt; George Wallace, Walter Mondale, Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon - and rank Welch's recent bio of Sen. John McCain up with the best of them. Although not a traditional biography, in that it is not a history of McCain's life but rather a deep analysis of his political philosophy, McCain, The Myth of a Maverick is valuable because it exposes the many contradictions and tensions between the public persona of presidential candidate and senator and the private individual. And, Welch asks the all important question: given what we know about McCain from his own words, what kind of president would John McCain be?
In writing about a living person, Welch faces a delicate dilemma: on one hand, the fact that his subject is alive gives the author prospect of direct and intimate access (access ultimately denied by McCain) but this is countered by the intense pressure to self-censor that does not exist when the subject is dead and one no longer has to worry about hurting the person's feelings. Welch is open about his affinity for McCain as well as his own political values, but unlike most journalists who have covered McCain, refuses to ignore the less than attractive facts about the man.
Since McCain, the Myth of a Maverick is more political analysis rather than traditional political biography, it is on the short side, yet nonetheless succinctly captures the basic narrative of McCain's life as it relates to McCain's political career and ambitions.
The underlying purpose of this book is also the goal of political journalism: to reveal that which is hidden, which, in McCain's case, is in plain sight.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Andrew S. Rogers VINE VOICE on May 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
You don't have to be a libertarian, I think, to find something disturbing in the definitiveness with which John McCain declares (as Matt Welch quotes from the Senator's autobiography Worth the Fighting For: The Education of an American Maverick, and the Heroes Who Inspired Him), "I have no reluctance to subordinate my independence to a cause greater than my own self interest. But that cause is my country, first and last. ... Were I to believe otherwise, the independence I have prized all my life will have been nothing more than egotism" (p. 83). For voters or interested citizens of any political persuasion, "McCain: The Myth of a Maverick" performs a valuable service in showing just how much John McCain means what he says.

Most voters, I would imagine, have some vague idea of John McCain's biography, particularly his years as a prisoner of the brutal Vietnamese communists. But Welch excels in showing how McCain's roots influence his world view and his sense of where he wants to lead this country. The author gives us many examples of McCain disparaging those who pursue self-interest or personal gain while honoring those who place "country" (which in practice means government service) before "self" (the productive sector). But given that McCain is a lifelong federal employee, the son and grandson of lifelong federal employees, this is really little more than *nostrism*, the egoism that extravagantly praises a collective of which he is himself a part.
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