John McCain On Books And Why Huckleberry Finn Should Be Read


This afternoon a young couple, on their way to the beach, walked by our home carrying books.  The man had two–stating he was sure to finish one, which I noticed had a photo of Tom Clancy on the jacket, and then would want to start another.  That is the type of neighborhood we live in.

We all chatted for a few minutes and he brought up his affection for Stephen Ambrose–one of my favorite historians who I was able to meet and converse with several times in Madison.  I mentioned “Undaunted Courage” as a most insightful read about the journey’s of Lewis and Clark.

Shortly after they passed I read this article about John McCain and his love of books.  McCain talks about books, authors, and topics the way many people do.   Now reflect that Donald Trump has stated he does not read books, or even like to read.  Therefore, one can not even imagine any such interview with him about turning the printed page.   And it shows!  The only ones who are not aware that it shows are those supporters who never search for a world outside of their frig, beer cans, and the living room roost.

McCain reads books and knows that it matters.   Reading books makes for an awareness of the world, and the nuances of life more clear.

What books are on your nightstand?

“Sinatra: The Chairman,” by James Kaplan; “Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan, 1839-42,” by William Dalrymple; and “Leonardo da Vinci,” by Walter Isaacson.

I loved his answer to this next question as the book remains one of my Top Ten with a copy on my shelves.

What books do you think most accurately depict Washington?

Advise and Consent,” by Allen Drury. The characters have mixed motives. Their personalities are complex and their actions nuanced. They’re not all good or all bad, just as in real politics and real life. The story features foreign intrigue and scandal — as do many fictional treatments of Washington — but it’s without the simplified, single dimension that fiction by writers from somewhere else often impose on human behavior in this company town.

I very much applaud McCain for his Twain pick, and the REASON for the selection as I absolutely concur.

Are there books that to you are important that your children read? That all American children read?

I’d like any child to read “For Whom the Bell Tolls” for the reasons I gave for loving it when I first read it as a child. I think I was about 12, and it had an immediate and lasting impact on me. I’d like them to read Twain, too, at least “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” It’s funny and it’s scary, and it teaches us to see past our differences to the inherent dignity we possess in equal measure.

I again agree with McCain on how to read and when to read certain material!  The only difference is that I have several books going at the same time.  

How do you like to read? Paper or electronic? One book at a time or several simultaneously? Morning or night?

I’m old-fashioned or maybe just old. I like to hold the book I’m reading, turn its pages, and clap it shut when I’ve finished it. I usually read them one at a time, but sometimes I’ll set one aside for the time it takes to finish another that required my immediate attention. I read newspapers in the morning and books in the evenings and on airplanes.

What do you plan to read next?

Grant,” by Ron Chernow. Historians began revising, some time ago, the earlier judgments of Grant as an unimaginative, bloody-minded general and bumbling president. But some reviews of Chernow’s new biography praised it as a thorough and insightful reappraisal of Grant, who was in truth an original and discerning military strategist, possibly the most influential in the history of the United States, and a brave and decent president. I’m looking forward to it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s