It's easy to tell that the Presidential campaign for the 2000 election is starting to heat up just visit the local bookstore. It has become something of a prerequisite that a candidate come up with a volume to sell in the months of the campaign.
Some of the books are straightforward autobiographies. Others are statements on policy. And almost all will wind up in the remainder section shortly after the Presidential election next year if not sooner.
Therefore it's good to see a candidate book that is worth reading: Faith of My Fathers, by Senator John McCain of Arizona, with Mark Salter. This is a memoir of the McCain family's association with the United States Armed Forces, which goes back for many years. The connection actually can be traced back for a majority of the country's history, although McCain is content to start with his grandfather and work his way to his own story.
The eldest McCain was one of the top military leaders in the Pacific theater in World War II, and he was on the USS Missouri the day the Japanese surrendered. His son was a submarine commander during that war, and eventually worked his way up the ranks until he also became an admiral and leader of the U.S. forces throughout the Pacific.
While those sections of the book are reasonably interesting, the interest level picks up several notches when the youngest McCain himself enters the military and is shot down over North Vietnam in 1967. He was a prisoner of war until 1973. McCain spares few details in describing what those five-plus years were like: torture, solitary confinement, poor food, lack of medical treatment.
McCain is a little hard on himself during his description of his time in captivity, perhaps because he was aware of the high standards set by his ancestors. His experiences, as described in the book, don't necessarily qualify him for the nation's highest office, but his book certainly gives a needed look at a slightly buried part of our history.
Budd Bailey is a hockey reporter and editor for the Buffalo News, and a contributor to The Sporting News.