Robert Timberg originally wrote a highly acclaimed book called The Nightingales Song about 5 high profile men including John McCain, who were graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy and also served in Vietnam. This book John McCain: An American Odyssey is has been excerpted and expanded to be mostly about the life of John McCain. There is no sentimental fluff here. Robert Timberg does not write from the point of view of a fan or conservative supporter; he is not, which is sort of why I wanted to read this book. He must have included every mistake both minor and major that McCain has ever made.
Still, the book is a page turner although a very rough read in some places. I heard an interview with McCain's daughter Meagan where she said that it was very difficult for her to hear about her father's time as a POW and she tried to avoid it. I can understand that after reading this book.
After reading this book and watching the recent debates I have a few questions about one or two of McCain's policies. I have never met any type of socialized medicine that I have liked. However, I am convinced more than ever before that this is the man who should be the Commander in Chief during these troubled times.
John McCain was sent into a war where our own government spent years tying it's own hands behind its back. John McCain only wants to fight where we can win and to commit troupes where we will stay committed. His comments about the Bosnian/Serbian crisis were prescient at the time and ring more true now as we have learned more about that terrible time.
Some of the points he made were these:"We must take action," citing "an uninterrupted pattern of atrocities since 1992."
"The world's lone superpower, having committed itself militarily, cannot afford to be humbled by an army of forty thousand in a country no larger than Connecticut."
In a graduation speech delivered in June of 1994 to the Marine Corps Command and Staff College in Quantico, Virginia he said, "I have memories of a place so far removed from the comforts of this blessed country that I have learned to forget some of the anguish it once brought me. But my happiness these last twenty years has not let me forget the friends who did not return with me to the country we loved so dearly. The memory of them, of what they bore for honor and country, causes me to look in every prospective conflict for the shadow of Vietnam.
I do not let that shadow hold me in fear from my duty as I have been given light to see that duty. Yet it no longer falls to me to bear arms in my country's defense. It falls to you. I pray that if the time comes for you to answer the call to arms, the battle will be necessary and the field well chosen. But that is not your responsibility. Your honor is in your answer, not your summons."
This book made me want to do more to honor those who serve and their families who serve a long side them and to learn more about our country's history. It inspired me to do my best to educate the next generation in the values and principles that made this land a place that redefined liberty for the world.