Admiring portrait of the late war hero, politician, and presidential candidate.
Although she begins by quoting his doting grandpa (“that boy has the stamp of nobility on his brow”), Gormley largely steers clear of outright hagiography. After recounting “Johnny” McCain’s family history and some youthful wobbles, she describes in some detail his years as a horrifically injured and mistreated prisoner of the North Vietnamese. Following his return, a “habit of moving forward, always forward in life” propelled him into politics as an outspoken “maverick,” with an irritating (to his colleagues) tendency to value principles over expediency. His marriages and children receive less mention than the rises and falls of his political fortunes or the details of his legislative work on campaign finance reform and other initiatives on the way to becoming a rare, if not always raised, voice of dissent in the Senate during President Donald Trump’s administration. Many readers may find his hawkish views on foreign policy hard to stomach and rightly view the author’s efforts to make him seem almost an ally of President Barack Obama’s with skepticism. Still, his achievements, as well as his undeniable personal and political courage, make him a notable figure. The profile concludes just prior to his death in August 2018 before closing with a detailed timeline and a large list of sources—but, oddly, no index (nor are there any illustrations).
An emphasis on character over events gives this some appeal to readers on both sides of the political…wall. (Biography. 12-15)