Summary and book reviews of Faith of My Fathers by John McCain

Faith of My Fathers

by John McCain, Mark Salter

Faith of My Fathers by John McCain, Mark Salter X
Faith of My Fathers by John McCain, Mark Salter
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  • First Published:
    Aug 1999, 349 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2000, 368 pages

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Book Summary

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.

Fifth from the Bottom

I am sure my disdainful contemporaries and disapproving instructors believed I would become a thoroughly disreputable upperclassman were I somehow to escape expulsion during my plebe year. Most of the time, my behavior only confirmed their low regard for me. For a moment, though, I came close to confounding their expectations. That moment began when I boarded the USS Hunt to begin my first-class cruise to Rio de Janeiro in June of 1957.

The Hunt was an old destroyer. It had seen better days. It seemed to me a barely floating rust bucket that should have been scrapped years before, unfit even for mothballing. But I was ignorant, a sailor's son though I was, and I overlooked the old ship's grace and sea-worthiness. I assumed the Hunt was suitable only for the mean task of giving lowly midshipmen a rustic experience of life at sea. I was wrong.

We lived in cramped quarters in the aft of the ship. We kept the hatch open to cool our quarters with the...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Introduction
John McCain is one of the most admired leaders in the United States government, but his deeply-felt memoir 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 enriched and shaped by fathers. McCain's grandfather was one of the navy's greatest commanders, ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The most engrossing book to appear in a long time from a presidential candidate....McCain's memoir is too good to be dismissed as simply another campaign book. It is a serious, utterly gripping account of faith, fathers, and the military.

Library Journal
Faith of My Fathers may also appeal to those who flocked to Saving Private Ryan and kept Brokaw's The Greatest Generation near the top of the bestseller lists.

Kirkus Reviews
A candid, moving, and entertaining memoir...Impressive and inspiring, the story of a man touched and molded by fire, who loved and served his country in a time of great trouble, suffering, and challenge.

Author Blurb William J. Bennett
Faith of My Fathers is the powerful story of a war hero. In it we learn much of what matters most. As prisoner (and later Senator) McCain instructs us Glory is not an end in itself, but rather a reward for valor and faith. And the greatest freedom and human fulfillment comes from engaging in a noble enterprise larger than oneself. Faith of My Fathers teaches deep truths that are valid in any age but that warrant special attention in our own.

Author Blurb General Colin L. Powell (retired)
Faith of My Fathers is a gripping story of character and courage character passed down from generation to generation by sterling examples of family bonds and devotion to duty; courage that ultimately comes from within, as John McCain learned in the brutal prison camps of North Vietnam. This is a sobering and glorious book that you won't be able to put down.

Author Blurb General Colin L. Powell (retired)
Faith of My Fathers is a gripping story of character and courage character passed down from generation to generation by sterling examples of family bonds and devotion to duty; courage that ultimately comes from within, as John McCain learned in the brutal prison camps of North Vietnam. This is a sobering and glorious book that you won't be able to put down.

Reader Reviews

Irving Presser

John McCain
A great book about a great war hero who survived being a prisoner in Vietnam to become a great senator. And he now faces the toughest battle of all - brain cancer. Everyone should read this great memoir, and everyone should say a prayer for senator...   Read More

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