Faith of My Fathers: A Family Memoir

Faith of My Fathers: A Family Memoir

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by John McCain, Mark Salter

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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.  See more details below


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.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes and Noble, Inc.
Senator John McCain won't win his party's presidential nomination, or even receive the vice presidential nod, but his autobiography can't be seen as anticlimactic. In ways, the failure of his campaign allows us to peruse his relaxed and often self-critical memoir in a leisurely and nonpartisan way. His life progresses in an almost storybook way: The descendant of two four-star admirals, "silver spoon sailor" McCain bucked his reputation in Vietnam, becoming a battle-hungry naval aviator. After being shot down over Hanoi in 1967, McCain once again found himself singled out because of his family's celebrity status. Offered early release by his North Vietnamese captors, he refused, opting instead for continued imprisonment, and the systematic torture it entailed. For the right audience, gripping stuff.

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Random House, Incorporated
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One
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.

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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What People are saying about this

William J. Bennett
Faith of My Fathers is the gripping 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 truths that warrant special attention in our own.

Meet the Author

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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Faith of My Fathers: A Family Memoir 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 51 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book should be a required reading for all high schoolers. McCain does try to tell all the great things he has done, he just lays out the facts. His sense of honor and duty to country would be a great influence on the youth of today. If this man were president, I could rest alot easier at night.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While John might not be the greatest speaker of all time, he among America's best prepared to lead as President. This book shows just how prepared he is due to his previous life experience. One that shows the quality of the man and the valor of his service.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Faith of my Fathers is a very interesting Navy story. I wanted to read about McCain and learn about his story. It is very interesting and I am glad I know more. I do not feel making a political statement is my place, I would be honored to meet him and I think he has been a fantastic leader for all of us regardless what your political flavors lead you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a compelling story of a young man by the name of John McCain the third, who was captured by the Vietnamese and taken hostage. Before he was taken hostage he talked about how his father was in the Vietnam and trained to be a pilot. His father returned home, but John didn't, he stayed in Vietnam where he was taken as a hostage and physically beat and brutally tortured throughout his stay. He finally escapes through a torturous story and lives to tell this story today. John McCain is the Senator for Arizona and may be running for President this year. This book tells the reader that they should never give up, fight for what you believe in, and to have faith in your country. I liked many parts in this book especially the part when John gets captured, he never thinks about loosing his faith in his country and men, but also has the will to hold his head up high. My only dislike in this book was the beginning when he talked about his Grandfather and what he did in the war. This book was very good and heart warming in the way that McCain never gives up loving his country. If you like heart filling books packed with faith and action this is the book for you!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a fascinating biography about a remarkable man--Sen. John McCain--and his family. I have seldom read a book in which the author was so openly and thoughtfully introspective including sharing behavior or experiences about which he says he was ashamed. The book is refreshingly honest, which is so unusual these days, particularly in the political arena. Readers are introduced to Senator McCain's grandfather, a naval officer during WWII, and his father, a submarine officer who ultimately became Commander-In-Chief of the Pacific 'CINPAC'. Following this introduction we learn more about Sen. McCain during his adolesent years, at the Naval Academy and during the Vietnam War including his capture and years as a POW in Vietnam. Sen. McCain's description of the torture endured by him and others is chilling to contemplate. The details of his captivity are so lucid you can almost visualize the POW camps and understand the severe conditions they experienced. Sen. McCain appears to be somewhat stubborn and impatient, but a humble man whose love for his family and country knows no bounds. I admire him greatly and appreciate his service to this country. I recommend this book highly, particularly for those who seek to understand more about this man's character, integrity and potential as a U.S. President.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book captured everything that I had wanted to know about the gentleman from Arizona. It talks about the great military tradition of the McCain family and how one can succeed, despite difficult hardships. A tremendous novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Interesting Book! My favorite portions of the book were about McCain's father and grandfather. They were pretty neat guys, and I finished this book with some new insites into living a better life. You might not like McCain, and you might decide that he has always been sort of a rebel, but you can't say that he doesn't try to decide what is right and stick to the course. I think that takes guts!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had expected this book to be more about McCain and his personal journey through war and into politics. Instead, it describes the experiences of his grandfather, father and himself serving in the military. If you are a WWII or Vietnam War buff, this is for you. After reading this, I felt I had experienced being a POW myself. I also thought it was novel to read about the experiences of someone who supported American involvement in the Vietnam War. McCain shares his pride in America and I came away feeling quite patriotic myself. Overall, it was an interesting book, a quick read, descriptive, and insightful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am 18 years old and I have just completed reading his book. It is a masterpiece.I was a step away from getting an appointment to Annapolis, but it did not fall through.I am inspired so much that I have enlisted in the U.S.Navy for both my father and grandfather were in the navy although they were not admirals. McCain's book told me that glory is not self-seeking.It is something you get by serving a cause greater than yourself and I think every teenager should be exposed to patriotism and leadership of this magnitude whether in school or at home.John has inspired me and I hope everyone else is inspired by this real life hero.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My father was 1hr away from going to Vietnam himself. Although it turned out he didn't go, to this day if Vietnam is even mentioned, my Dad's eyes have tears. I never could fully understand it. Hearing Sen. McCain's story, I feel the young people of this country get a better picture of the hell our fathers went through. John McCain is a true American Hero, who has a great sense of humor. It's a terrible shame that America let him down in his bid for the Presidency.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great reading! An American at his best. This makes us feel that patriotism is still part of America. We are not the world, we are Americans first!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is truly a touching story and a great history account of one of America's greatest families of patriots that have served our nation bravely for centuries.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading this book, it will make you want to change your philosophy on life. It is a story of courage and the importance of morals and ethics to prepare you for any situation in life. John McCain's experience in the camp is a lesson to live because life is a gift. This is a book that will change your life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Faith of My Fathers was an outstanding book. From the moment the book talked about his father in WWII, to his own childhood, to when he returned home home from Vietnam, the book was action packed. I liked the fact it talked about his father and grandfather. I did not know they were both Naval admirals. The only slow part I thought was the chapter where it talked about his father taking command of CINPAC. This chapter was right in the middle of the chapters dealing with John McCain's experiences as a prisoner of war. I would recomend this book to anyone, weather you like war or not, this book deals with heroisim, courage, and honor.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Senator McCain has written a moving memoir that, by constrast, does NOT show George W. Bush in a good light. This isn't specifically stated but one of these men served in combat as a fighter pilot and the other one just flew meaningless National Guard missions when he wasn't campaigning for his Dad.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The accounts of John McCain as a POW in Vietnam are amazing and shocking. You will be on the edge of your seat as if it were fiction. Whether or not you agree with McCain's political views, this book filters through that and into his life as a naval aviator, and a hero.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and have shared it with some of my colleagues. I bought it not only because I have admired the Senator ever since I heard of the tragic fire aboard the FORRESTAL during the Vietnam war and his subsequent imprisonment in North Vietnam but primarily because I served aboard the U.S.S. ST PAUL (CA-73) under his father, John S. McCain, Jr. I was GREATLY DISAPPOINTED in the book when I read Senator McCain's words about his father: 'During the Korean War, as a captain, he served as second in comand on the destroyer USS St. Paul.' (p. 93) I served aboard the USS SAINT PAUL (CA-73)1949-51 and made two Korean cruises aboard her. John S. McCain, Jr. was the Executive Officer (2nd in command) and his rank was COMMANDER (not captain). Further, the SAINT PAUL IS NOT A DESTROYER. It is a Baltimore Class HEAVY CRUISER, which, unfortunately has been scrapped and made into razor blades. As a former sailor, the Senator should not have permitted such errors to creep into and remain in his book. At present, there are about 2500 veterans who are members of the U.S.S. SAINT PAUL (CA-73) ASSOCIATION, many of whom had the same privilege of serving under then CDR. John S. McCain, Jr. It was my honor to have been personally appointed to the ship's Master at Arms Force by Commander McCain. He was indeed an officer who genuinely cared for the welfare of the enlisted men that served under his command and whom the 'white hats' deeply respected! The Senator owes a sincere apology to all the enlisted men and officers who served under his father who, at the time was CDR. JOHN S. MCCAIN, JR.! We share the Senator's pride in his father's subsequent achievement of four-star admiral and CINCPAC!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an inspiring book which really made me think about what Americans have sacrificed and how proud I am to be a citizen of our great country. John McCain is a man of the highest character who I greatly respect. The chapters which describe his 5 1/2 years as a POW are incredibly moving and saddening. My eyes filled with tears as I read his account of the dreadful cruelty he experienced in Vietnam.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very heartbreaking and eye opening story of some fine american Hero's' gods bless them
GmaBaja More than 1 year ago
Still believe that we shouldn't of been involved. Greatest wrong was the Government did not support our troops while serving or when they came back and that still seems to be a problem today. YES I was in the military during peace time. BUT have many uncles serving during WWII, retired brother and son and many friends. Pray for our troops serving now and when they return. Pray the government starts backing up our troops and not worry about their health plans, but our service people and their families.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had a lot of respect for McCain before reading this book; but he's an amazing man from an amazing family. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the careers of his grandfather and father. This a must read if you want to know what happened to our brave POW's during the Vietnam war.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
add two others to the pot. Heredity and envirorment are a great mix no child in the family has the same parent we have eight genic roots by the time we get to the greats and so do they. Too many varibles to pontify there is no antonym for fiction all is perception as the bible said we see through a dark glass though i didnt know they had them then
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago