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by John McCain with Mark Salter

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-375-50191-6
Publisher: Random House

A candid, moving, and entertaining memoir by the US senator from Arizona and potential presidential candidate. Aided by Salter, his legislative assistant since 1989, McCain writes of growing up with his sister and brother as navy “brats,— constantly moving from school to school as their devoted mother filled in the educational cracks at home. The boy was strongly influenced by his father and grandfather, both four-star admirals and war heroes, honest, brave, and loyal men with reassuringly normal human imperfections. An individualist to the core and self-described hell-raiser, McCain chafed under the severe discipline of the US Naval Academy, constantly challenging petty rules he considered unnecessary in the making of an officer. He graduated near the bottom of his class despite being outstanding in history and literature. Flying off the carrier Oriskany in the Vietnam War, he shared the poor regard fellow pilots had for the civilian managers of the war (“complete idiots” in his judgment), who refused to allow airmen to bomb Russian SAM missile sites that were causing heavy US pilot and plane losses. Shot down and captured near Hanoi, McCain suffered more than five years of beatings and torture. Feisty as ever, the POW made it worse for himself by resisting his captors as much as he could, holding onto the steely resolve of his role models, —the faith of his fathers.— He still regrets his single breakdown under severe pain, but McCain has managed to prevent bad memories of war from destroying his present well-being; he feels that Vietnam matured him, strengthened his confidence, and forced him to honestly look at his failures—in youth as well as wartime—while seeing opportunities for redemption. 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 tour)