- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Random House; Abridged edition edition (August 31, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0375501916
- ISBN-13: 978-0375501913
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 380 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #769,511 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Faith of My Fathers Hardcover – Abridged, August 31, 1999
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Books by politicians are not often worth reading, but John McCain's Faith of My Fathers is an astonishing exception to the rule. The Republican senator from Arizona has a remarkable story to tell--better than just about any of his peers--and he tells it well, with crisp prose and an unexpected sense for narrative pacing. The first half of the book concerns his naval forbears: his grandfather commanded an aircraft carrier in the Second World War, while his father presided over all naval forces in the Pacific during the Vietnam War. They were the first father-son admirals in American history. Young John McCain knew he had enormous shoes to fill and rebelled against many of the expectations set for him. At the Naval Academy, he was nearly expelled, graduating fifth from the bottom of his class. He never became an admiral, but achieved fame another way: as a naval aviator in 1967, he was shot down over North Vietnam and spent several years in POW camps, where he was beaten, tortured, and nearly allowed to die. McCain describes the awful details of his imprisonment and tells how he stayed mentally strong during seemingly endless months of solitary confinement and how he communicated in code with fellow captives. Faith of My Fathers concludes with McCain's release and contains no information about his subsequent political career. It is, nonetheless, a complete and compelling memoir of individual heroism--one that will interest both political and military history buffs. --John J. Miller
From Publishers Weekly
As the 2000 presidential campaign heats up, Republican hopeful McCain, the senior senator from Arizona, weighs in with the most engrossing book to appear in a long time from a presidential candidate. Writing with Salter, his administrative assistant, McCain carefully avoids the pitfalls of self-promotion, knowing that he has a larger, more interesting story to tell than merely why he wants to be president. McCain is famous for the five years he endured as a prisoner in the Hanoi Hilton, the most notorious POW camp in Vietnam. Less well known are two other John McCains: his father and grandfather, both of whom served as admirals in the U.S. Navy. The military service of all three men forms the basis of this gripping, heartfelt reflection on war and naval culture. McCain's grandfather was a legendary old salt, a hard-drinking gambler who fought in WWII next to giants like Nimitz and Halsey. McCain's father was a submarine commander who rose to become commander of all U.S. forces in the Pacific during the Vietnam War. Almost half the book is devoted to McCain's grueling tenure as a POW. When he was shot down over Hanoi in 1967, he broke both arms, one shoulder and one knee. During his imprisonment, McCain was tortured repeatedly and frequently locked in solitary confinement. The faith McCain avows is a simple one: "in God, country, and each other"Aeach other being his comrades at the Hanoi Hilton and, later, his fellow citizens. McCain's memoir is too good to be dismissed as simply another campaign book. It is a serious, utterly engrossing account of faith, fathers and military tradition. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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The first half of the book covers the long history of McCain's grandfather and father in their distinguished naval careers, both of whom achieved the rank of 4-star admirals. McCain's father was promoted to CINCPAC, commanding the entire Pacific Fleet during the final years of the Vietnam War while his son was still in prison. McCain knew from an early age that he would follow in the footsteps of these proud men. The military life was all they knew. He was quite frank about his behavioral issues and low academic achievement during his time at the Naval Academy, but managed to do just enough to make it through and become a naval pilot. He openly admits that during his time at the Academy he embarked on a "four-year course of insubordination and rebellion." McCain writes that "the most important lesson I learned there was that to sustain my self-respect for a lifetime it would be necessary for me to have the honor of serving something greater than my self-interest."
The second half of the book covers the 5 years that McCain spent as a POW in Hanoi. He wrote in excruciating detail about the suffering from his serious injuries, the lack of medical treatment, the starvation, solitary confinement, as well as emotional and physical abuse and torture. He spares no detail in an unflinching, almost dispassionate voice. The most interesting part of the POW experience was the manner in which the POW’s communicated by tapping out words in code, and how important that connection was to them. The prison guards knew that the single thing that would break down a man more than physical abuse was depriving them of interaction and communication with other prisoners. McCain speaks with gratitude and warmth of other faithful prisoners who demonstrated courage and fortitude – the bonds they formed during imprisonment are unlike any other.
McCain and his co-writer Mark Salter have written 6 books together, and it’s impossible to know which words belong to which writer, however the end result is a seamless story well told. The only criticism of “Faith of My Fathers” is that the time-line, particularly during the prison years, is somewhat disjointed. Rather than maintaining a chronological flow, the book jumps around a bit, resulting in quite a bit of repetition. Nevertheless, it is a moving story of endurance and the indomitable human spirit to survive.