Faith of My Fathers

Faith of My Fathers

John McCain is one of the most admired leaders in the United States government, but his deeply felt memoir of family and war is not a political one and ends before his election to Congress. With candor and ennobling power, McCain tells a story that, in the words of Newsweek, "makes the other presidential candidates look like pygmies."
John McCain learned about life and honor from his grandfather and father, both four-star admirals in the U.S. Navy. This is a memoir about their lives, their heroism, and the ways that sons are shaped and enriched by their fathers.
John McCain’s grandfather was a gaunt, hawk-faced man known as Slew by his fellow officers and, affectionately, as Popeye by the sailors who served under him. McCain Sr. played the horses, drank bourbon and water, and rolled his own cigarettes with one hand. More significant, he was one of the navy’s greatest commanders, and led the strongest aircraft carrier force of the Third Fleet in key battles during World War II.
John McCain’s father followed a similar path, equally distinguished by heroic service in the navy, as a submarine commander during World War II. McCain Jr. was a slightly built man, but like his father, he earned the respect and affection of his men. He, too, rose to the rank of four-star admiral, making the McCains the first family in American history to achieve that distinction. McCain Jr.’s final assignment was as commander of all U.S. forces in the Pacific during the Vietnam War.
It was in the Vietnam War that John McCain III faced the most difficult challenge of his life. A naval aviator, he was shot down over Hanoi in 1967 and seriously injured. When Vietnamese military officers realized he was the son of a top commander, they offered McCain early release in an effort to embarrass the United States. Acting from a sense of honor taught him by his father and the U.S. Naval Academy, McCain refused the offer. He was tortured, held in solitary confinement, and imprisoned for five and a half years.
Faith of My Fathers is about what McCain learned from his grandfather and father, and how their example enabled him to survive those hard years. It is a story of three imperfect men who faced adversity and emerged with their honor intact. Ultimately, Faith of My Fathers shows us, with great feeling and appreciation, what fathers give to their sons, and what endures.


  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st trade ed edition (August 31, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375501916
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375501913
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (362 customer reviews)
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  1. This book contains quite a bit of military history and military details that some readers will not find interesting. I am one of those people; nevertheless, I found McCain’s book delightful overall. It is inspiring to read the life story of a man who lives for something greater than himself, and has the humility to give extensive credit to his forefathers and his fellow POWS, many of whom he mentions by name. McCain tells his story with the help of a professional writer (one online reviewer, who obviously never read this book, says the book couldn’t have been written by McCain because he wouldn’t have had the time–and that that must be evidence of the man’s inauthenticity!) In fact, Faith of My Fathers is full of credit graciously given to a vast array of friends and associates, including his ghostwriter. Today, McCain’s once-athletic body still shows evidence of the abuse and torture he suffered. In a self-absorbed age with few heroes, we need to hear more from men of conviction, character and courage like John McCain. It inspires us to push on, regardless of the cost or of the disabilities with which we struggle.

  2. My wife read this book and kept after me to read it too. At first I did not want to read it because I thought it was another book by a man with a political agenda. After I finally picked it up I could not put it down — this book is very good. This book reminds me of Baa Baa Blacksheep (A book about a pilot from a different war who was shot down in the Pacific and faced hard times as a POW). Both books tell it like it is. McCain does not try to pretend that he is a saint and candidly tells of his errors in life. The book, however, is about more than McCain it is also about his remarkable family and, more importantly, about his fellow POWs. McCain does not try to pretend that he was America’s best POW. In fact, he seems upset by feelings that he was treated better than the other POWs because of his father’s rank. While McCain plays down his own acts, he describes in detail the extraordinary acts of heroism of his fellow POWs. If you read this book for no other reason, you should read it for the stories that describe how our fighting men honored themselves and this country by refusing to cooperate with the enemy.

  3. This is a moving and compelling account of the careers of three extraordinary American sailors. It is an exceptional look at the American soldier and the military family that makes one wonder why we don’t have people like this anymore.
    McCain’s account of his time in a Vietnam POW camp makes one think what they would have done in a similar situation. Would I have turned down early release because other POWs had been there longer? Would I have adhered to the military code of conduct?
    Politically, I don’t agree with John McCain on his key issues like attacking ethanol and campaign finance reform, but this book makes me put that aside and consider supporting him for president.
    It shows he is a leader who can weather the storm.
    Wouldn’t it be nice to have a president to look up to again?

  4. Dealing with the realities of today and the promise of tomorrow we often forget yesterday. As a young army wife with a husband that served two tours in Nam and the mother of a Gulf era veteran reading this book rekindled the memories of the struggle of that horrible time. We do ourselves a dis service if we forget that war. John McCain’s description of his captivity is an inspiration that will help me with my focus on our role of peackeeper in this world. I wore his bracelet and prayed for him as a POW, said a thanksgiving prayer when the POWs came home.Now I say thank you for writing a book that won’t forget this war of yesterday as we pray that our sons and daughters will never face this ordeal.

  5. It takes a lot for me to sit still long enough to read a book, but to read this one in one sitting, is quite a reflection on the material. John McCain, tells it all, not taking himself seriously, is very humble in his self assesment of the horrors of the Vietnam prisons…One thing that shines thru in the book, is his love of America, and of our freedom…John has earned our respect, and this book is well worth reading…you wont put it down….God Bless JohnMcCain….

  6. John McCain’s autobiography is a stirring account of perseverance and family values that is ultimately a tribute to the will of humanity to prevail. If only more fathers would give their sons the lessons that John Sr. instilled in John, our world would be a better place. If only more men had the unwavering self-confidence that John had as a POW, we could all live inspired. John McCain shows us that we can grow as people if we learn to do what’s right in the end. After all, he wasn’t perfect, but he learned to hold his head high and make his life as perfect as it could be with what he had. Outstanding, altogether.

  7. While John McCain’s politics are too conservative for me, he still gets my attention for this inspiring story. Parts of his father and grandfather’s stories could have been shortened to concentrate more on his struggle in Vietnam. His admission that the North Vietnamese did break him shows his honesty and the depths of his mental struggle. I applaud this valuable American and recommend this book.

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