Continuing on my military/Navy booklist, I just finished reading John McCain’s “Faith Of My Fathers.” It took me a little while to get into the book as when I first started reading it. I was in the process of moving and getting married. But now that things have gotten back to more of a routine, the pages of the book flew by.
For those that don’t know, John McCain, yes the Republican presidential nominee of 2008 comes from a high and mighty lineage of top brass in the Navy. Both his father and grandfather were admirals and John McCain, in his time, was an advancing Naval Officer, himself. In his time as a Naval Aviator, John McCain was shot down and captured as a POW in Vietnam where he remained for a number of years. The majority of this book is recollections of his time in captivity.
The beginning of the book, however, does take time to tell the story of his grandfather and father in their Naval careers. It is called “Faith Of My Fathers” after all.
One major aspect of this book that I really enjoyed was the personality and intimacy that was communicated throughout its pages. You really felt like you were sitting next to a vet, just listening to him tell you his story. Through all the good times and bad, there is a level of blatant honesty that is surprising of an autobiography from such a well known person. Many times throughout the book I found myself wondering if the events that were unfolding truly happened the way that they were being told. Such unbelievable events and actions taken by not only the author but also by others and only told through the author are littered throughout the book.
While reading, I had many of the same thoughts as while reading, Lone Survivor. ”Is the author exaggerating or leaving out bits of information to make himself look better?” That’s a tough thought to get over when reading autobiographies. This autobiography (or even non-fiction at that) phase that I’ve been going through lately is completely different than my major interest in fiction prior. I have not previously had much experience with the urge to question the author and his story as I have had in these books. In fiction, it is just a story, the author has the freedom to move the story how he or she pleases. But these autobiographies are about true American heroes that have lived during and through some truly unbelievable moments in time.
John McCain, however, tells his story well.
There is a bit of repeat in his story and a whole lot of jumping around in the chronological timeline that gets to be a bit annoying. But it feels as though the stories are following a train of thought. He isn’t just recounting everything that happened, but telling the story as well.
After finishing the book, I thought for a bit about my feelings towards John McCain before reading the book and now my feelings towards the man after reading the book. In the end, I decided that the feelings were no different. I have always respected the man for who he is and his accomplishments, but hearing in detail, from his voice, the story of his youth and years in the military, doesn’t lead me, in any regards, to admire or despise the man. I feel more educated about his story and I admire his ability and determination to tell the story. In the end I just feel better acquainted to him as a person. More than just a political figure, I now know a little bit about the person behind the campaign. In the book he discusses at times, regrets from years past and struggles that he had both in and out of the military. Overall, the book glorifies his human aspects more than him as an American hero.
This book is not about politics and only makes mention of politics a handful of times. This book is really just about an American family put in extraordinary circumstances. Go pick up a copy, you won’t regret it.
ps. happy 300th post :-)