Faith of My Fathers: A Family Memoirby John McCain, John S. McCain
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This memoir is the story of what McCain learned from his grandfather and father, and how their example enabled him to endure these hard years. It is a story of three imperfect men who faced adversity and emerged with their honor intact. Ultimately, Faith of My Fathers is a story of fathers and sons, what they give each other and what endures.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Faith of My Fathers may also appeal to those who flocked to Saving Private Ryan and kept Brokaw's The Greatest Generation near the top of the bestseller lists." —Library Journal
"Faith of My Fathers is the powerful story of a war hero. In it we learn much of what matters most. As prisoner (and later Senator) McCain instructs us: Glory is not an end in itself, but rather a reward for valor and faith. And the greatest freedom and human fulfillment comes from engaging in a noble enterprise larger than oneself. Faith of My Fathers teaches deep truths that are valid in any age but that warrant special attention in our own." —William J. Bennett
"Faith of My Fathers is a gripping story of character and courage: character passed down from generation to generation by sterling examples of family bonds and devotion to duty; courage that ultimately comes from within, as John McCain learned in the brutual prison camps of North Vietnam. This is a sobering and glorious book that you won't be able to put down." —General Colin L. Powell (retired)
"A candid, moving, and entertaining memoir...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."
- Random House Audio Publishing Group
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- Abridged, 4 CDs, 4 hrs. 50 min.
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- 5.65(w) x 4.93(h) x 0.98(d)
Read an Excerpt
In War and Victory
I have a picture I prize of my grandfather and father, John Sidney McCain Senior and Junior, taken on the bridge of a submarine tender, the USS Proteus, in Tokyo Bay a few hours after the Second World War had ended. They had just finished meeting privately in one of the ship's small staterooms and were about to depart for separate destinations. They would never see each other again.
Despite the weariness that lined their faces, you can see they were relieved to be in each other's company again. My grandfather loved his children. And my father admired my grandfather above all others. My mother, to whom my father was devoted, had once asked him if he loved his father more than he loved her. He replied simply, "Yes, I do."
On the day of their reunion, my father, a thirty-four-year-old submarine commander, and his crew had just brought a surrendered Japanese submarine into Tokyo Bay. My grandfather, whom Admiral Halsey once referred to as "not much more than my right arm," had just relinquished command of Halsey's renowned fast carrier task force, and had attended the signing of the surrender aboard the USS Missouri that morning. He can be seen in a famous photograph of the occasion standing with his head bowed in the first rank of officers observing the ceremony.
My grandfather had not wanted to attend, and had requested permission to leave for home immediately upon learning of Japan's intention to capitulate.
"I don't give a damn about seeing the surrender," my grandfather told Halsey. "I want to get the hell out of here." To which Halsey replied, "Maybe you do, but you're not going. You werecommanding this task force when the war ended, and I'm making sure that history gets it straight." In his memoir, Halsey described my grandfather "cursing and sputtering" as he returned to his flagship.
To most observers, my grandfather had been as elated to hear of Japan's decision to surrender as had the next man. Upon hearing the announcement, he ordered the doctor on his flagship to break out the medicinal brandy and passed cups around to all takers. He was a jocular man, and his humor could at times be wicked. He told a friend, as they prepared for the surrender ceremony, "If you see MacArthur's hands shaking as he reads the surrender documents it won't be emotion. It will be from too many of those mestiza girls in the Philippines."
In the days immediately following the announcement that Emperor Hirohito had agreed to surrender, a few of the emperor's pilots bad either not received or not believed the message. Occasionally, a few Japanese planes would mount attacks on the ships of my grandfather's task force. He directed his fighter pilots to shoot down any approaching enemy planes. "But do it in a friendly sort of way," he added.
Some of his closest aides sensed that there was something wrong with the old man. His operations officer, Commander John Thach, a very talented officer whom my grandfather relied on to an extraordinary extent, was concerned about his health. Thach went to m grandfather's cabin and asked him if he was ill. In an account of the exchange he gave many years later, Thach recalled my grandfather's answer: "Well, this surrender has come as kind of a shock to all of us. I feel lost. I don't know what to do. I know how to fight, but now I don't know whether I know how to relax or not. I'm in an awful letdown."
Once on board the Missouri, however, he was entirely at ease. Rushing about the deck of the battleship, hailing his friends and reveling in the moment, he was the most animated figure at the ceremony. He announced to Admiral Nimitz, Commander in Chief, Pacific, that he had invented three new cocktails, the July, the Gill, and the Zeke, each one named for a type of Japanese plane his task force had fought during the war's last hard months. "Each time you drink one you can say 'Splash one July' or 'Splash one Zeke,' " he explained.
After the surrender, Halsey reports, my grandfather was grateful for having been ordered to join the others on the Missouri. "Thank God you made me stay, Bill. You had better sense than I did."
Immediately after father and son parted company that day, my grandfather left for his home in Coronado, California. Before he left, he issued his last dispatch to the men under his command.
I am glad and proud to have fought through my last year of active service with the renowned fast carriers. War and victory have forged a lasting bond among us. If you are as fortunate in peace as you have been victorious in war, I am now talking to 110,000 prospective millionaires. Goodbye, good luck, and may God be with you.McCain
He arrived home four days later. My grandmother, Katherine Vaulx McCain, arranged for a homecoming party the next day attended by neighbors and the families of Navy friends who had yet to return from the war. Standing in his crowded living room, my grandfather was pressed for details of the surrender ceremony, and some of the wives present whose husbands were POWs begged him for information about when they could expect their husbands' return. He responded to their inquiries courteously, seemingly content, as always, to be the center of attention.
Some of the guests remembered having observed that my grandfather seemed something less than his normally ebullient self; a little tired from his journey, they had thought, and worn out from the rigors of the war.
In the middle of the celebration my grandfather turned to my grandmother, announced that he felt ill, and then collapsed. A physician attending the party knelt down to feel for the admiral's pulse. Finding none, he looked up at my grandmother and said, "Kate, he's dead..."
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About the Author
After a career in the U.S. Navy and two terms as a U.S. representative (1982-1986), John McCain was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986 and re-elected in 1992 and 1998. He has seven children and four grandchildren. He and his wife, Cindy, reside in Phoenix.
Mark Salter has worked on Senator McCain's staff for ten years. Hired as a legislative assistant in 1989, he has served as the senator's administrative assistant since 1993. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with his wife, Diane, and their two daughters.
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