This political biography is unlike any others

Sometimes, it’s good to take account.

You’ll know where you stand when you do. You’ll see achievements clearly, and re-hash disappointments. You can plan the future by taking stock of the past and, in the case of John McCain in his new book “The Restless Wave” (with Mark Salter), you’ll know yours was a life well-lived.

In the twilight of his life, John McCain has many “accumulated memories.”

He begins with a list of loss: fellow politicians, adversaries, admired men, family, and some who served with him in Vietnam . On that latter subject as a whole, McCain is relatively mute; his war years are left for a different book.

Mostly, in fact, the major focuses of “The Restless Wave” are the 2008 campaign, issues of human rights and, in a bit of a whirlwind narrative, McCain’s diplomatic visits to the Middle East.

On the campaign, there are a lot of coulda-shoulda-woulda moments: in his decision to run in the first place, in his campaign’s finances, in some of the things said off-the-cuff, and in McCain’s stances on issues he knew to be unpopular. He still regards Sarah Palin with warmth, and no regrets but he says that when Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, he saw where things were heading and he tried “to live completely in the moment, not thinking ahead to when it will be over.”

Readers will understand why McCain holds the opinions on torture that he does, and why he’s outspoken against the possibility that the U.S. would use torture against captured enemies. He also admits to knowing that his positions were occasionally controversial and that he sometimes ignored others’ political ideologies but “… I don’t need any more approval than a quiet conscience.”

Toward the end of his book, he writes of “shocking allegations” of Russian interference in the 2016 election, and of his “minor role” in the dossier controversy; to say that McCain is no fan of Putin is an understatement. He writes of his deep friendship and “fights” with adversary Ted Kennedy; about his role in the healthcare debate; and of his consternation with President Trump.

Like nearly every political biography ever released, there’s a lot of chest-thumping and assertions of correctness inside “The Restless Wave,” and astute readers will note more than just a little repetition. Moreover, though, this book fairly rings with a sense of leave-taking that, despite what we know, imparts an oddly-faint feeling of surprised disbelief not unlike losing a distant relative you barely knew. In his final chapter, author McCain (with Mark Salter) sums this memoir up in the most bittersweet of ways, acknowledging that cancer may take his life, the same as it took that of Kennedy, and he begs readers to “return to regular order” for the America he loves.

There have been many political books released this calendar year but this one is different, in that there’s a lot here you haven’t heard. Overall, and despite that it’s sometimes not the smoothest read on the shelves, “The Restless Wave” is a good account.

More in Life

Rock Steady Boxing SKC hosts Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research on Aug. 14

Rock Steady Boxing South King County hosts a representative from the Michael… Continue reading

HAWKtoberfest Car Show set for Sept. 28 in Kent

Entries open for Seahawks-themed vehicles; other cars

Rock bands Live, Bush to perform Oct. 16 at Kent’s ShoWare Center

Grand Theatre, Grand Sierra Resort CasinoReno

Theatre Battery returns with imaginative play at Kent Station

‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’ – a magical tale of growing up and finding acceptance for everyone – is on stage throughout August

Bowen Scarff Ford car show set for Aug. 17 at Kent’s ShoWare Center

Event to feature Ford, Lincoln, Mercury vehicles

Transformed in Kent

Convention has something for everyone who is a fan, follower of the mighty robots and their films

COURTESY PHOTO, Museum of Flight
Man and the moon

Programs this week honor Apollo program and the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing

Cirque Musica presents Holiday Wishes Nov. 21 at Kent’s ShoWare Center

Concert features cast performing to songs by symphony orchestra