Sen. McCain and I

I was surprised to see Sen. John McCain as the subject of the “By the Book” feature in The New York Times Book Review section last Sunday. I don’t think of Sen. McCain as an author but he does have a new book out, “The Restless Wave.”
I was even more surprised to see the things Sen. McCain and I have in common when it comes to reading.
In answer to the prompt “Tell us about the last great book you read,” he responded that he recently reread “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. My own knee jerk answer to the question “What is your all-time favorite book” is always Gatsby. I, too, reread it every now and then and enjoy it more each time.
The very last question posed to the Senator is “What do you plan to read next?”
He answered “Grant,” by Ron Chernow.
I am 650 pages into the same thousand-page “Grant” and have come to admire the Civil War general and subsequent president in many, many ways. The Civil War always has fascinated me and the section of the book about the war years saddened me deeply and opened my eyes even more about the cause each side fought for and the brutality of human beings, let alone fellow Americans, to one another.
Finally, mid-interview Sen. McCain talks about his love of Ernest Hemingway and describes “For Whom the Bell Tolls” as “my favorite novel of all time.”
A former student and dear friend purchased an old hardcover copy of “For Whom the Bell Tolls” for me as a Christmas gift. Bogged down with the hefty “Grant,” I’ve been unable to get to it, but it is first on my summer reading list.

Ed Ackerman