Book Review: Faith of My Fathers by John McCain and Mark Salter (Four Stars)

Book Review: Faith of My Fathers: A Family Memoir by John McCain and Mark Salter (Four Stars)

“If you valued them, and held them strongly, love and honor would endure undiminished by the passing of time and the most determined assault on your dignity.”

An engaging family history by the deceased senator and POW. Written presumably as a presidential propaganda piece for McCain’s first run for the Oval Office. Despite that it is well-written and absent the vitriol expected from politicians.

“Some officers get it backwards. They don’t understand that we are responsible for our men, not the other way around. That’s what forges trust and loyalty.” John S. McCain Jr. (his father)

McCain credits his grandfather and father with both his dedication to service to his country and the strength of character which saw him through six years of isolation and torture as a prisoner of war.

“Like other senior commanders, [my father] believed the United States had squandered its best opportunity to win the war in the aftermath of the Tet Offensive, ‘when we had destroyed the back of the Viet Cong…. And when we had finally drawn North Vietnamese troops out into the open.’”

McCain’s criticism of how LBJ and McNamara mishandled the Vietnam War is shared by almost every participant. I was one of them. It was a stupid waste of humanity and resources and accomplished nothing. That Nixon did little better during his first term indicates what a Gordian Knot a land war in Asia can become. Apparently, we unlearned that lesson in one generation.

“A lot of men died who shouldn’t have, the victims of genuine war crimes.”

Never a classic conservative or Republican, he was a man of integrity who followed his inner compass even when those around him urged him not to.

“This is the faith that my commanders affirmed, that my brothers-in-arms encouraged my allegiance to. It was the faith I had unknowingly embraced at the Naval Academy. It was my father’s and grandfather’s faith. A filthy, crippled, broken man, all I had left of my dignity was the faith of my fathers. It was enough.”