There was no one like John McCain. But readers may come away from Mark Salter’s outstanding and frequently moving biography of the late Republican senator wondering if the absence of anyone remotely like McCain from our current politics says more about him or us ... Other McCain biographies have offered more detailed histories of his early upbringing as the son and grandson of legendary Navy admirals, his headstrong youth and training at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, his combat service in the Vietnam War, and his five years of imprisonment and torture in Hanoi. The advantage of Salter’s account, The Luckiest Man, is that he was able, as McCain’s aide and confidant, to ask the senator over years of close observation about how these experiences shaped his character, outlook and politics ... Salter’s psychological portrait of McCain is informed and convincing.
... moving and lucidly written ... Mr. Salter’s admiration for his old boss is profound, but he is aware, too, of McCain’s complexity ... Mr. Salter is of course right to resent the press corps’ malevolence in 2008, but his defense strikes this reviewer as naive and indicative of the candidate’s self-importance ... Still, reading Mr. Salter’s fine memoir, I am confirmed in an old opinion: that it is one of the great tragedies of our politics that John McCain was never elected president. America was just unlucky, I guess.
... an intimate and inspirational portrait ... Salter renders the physical and mental torture McCain endured in vivid detail, making McCain’s decision to refuse an offer of early release seem all the more heroic ... Though Salter’s critiques aren’t exactly hard-hitting, they give the book credibility. Political history buffs will savor this well-rounded account.