This informative, insightful biography of John McCain focuses on his career as a navy pilot and ordeals as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam.
McCain’s rebellious and combative nature, which emerged in early childhood, inform the throughline for Perritano’s account, which is liberally laced with quotations and illustrated with stock photographs. An avid reader of history and literature, McCain was nonetheless a lackluster student, even at the U.S. Naval Academy. His insouciance carried over to his pilot training, his performance described as “mediocre, not unlike his years at the academy.” McCain became more serious about his career once he was assigned to an aircraft carrier. He received the combat assignment he desired on the USS Forrestal, taking part in the bombing campaign of North Vietnam. McCain narrowly escaped death again when an explosion on the ship ignited a deadly fire, killing 134 of his shipmates. He volunteered for duty aboard the carrier Oriskany and was shot down on a bombing run over Hanoi. Perritano’s vivid chronicle of the injured McCain’s six years of captivity and relentless torture in North Vietnam is the most compelling part of the narrative. The last sixth of the book is a perfunctory overview of McCain’s long political career, acknowledging both his successes and failures and concluding with his September 2017 diagnosis with brain cancer.
An admiring but well-rounded portrait of a courageous, principled, and patriotic man unafraid to admit his faults. (photos, source notes, index) (Biography. 10-16)