Written while confronting a mortal illness, McCain looks back with appreciation on his years in the Senate, his historic 2008 campaign for the presidency against Barack Obama, and his crusades on behalf of democracy and human rights in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
...[a] remarkable farewell ... McCain memoirs are a sturdy perennial on American bookshelves — his name appears on the spine of a handful — but this one is different, not least because both he and his outlook (once fairly conventional Republican fare but now described as “maverick’’ because those views no longer are conventional) are in rapid decline. This book is clearly intended to be his last testimony and last political will and testament. In truth, the words, thoughts, and impulses that comprise the McCain testimony once were well-worn cliches ... Today those words, and many others between the covers of The Restless Wave, are frontal challenges to the current zeitgeist.
...a personal memoir that is frank, poignant and ultimately a sobering commentary about the state of American democracy and world leadership ... It is less autobiography and more a hastily assembled commentary on the opening years of the 21st century ... At times, the reader senses these are literally McCain’s dying words. That gives the prose an elegiac quality, though the main impression is of a joyous, obstinate man who delights in tweaking the tails of his political enemies.
The tough-guy titles of their previous books...exhibited an adamant righteousness that The Restless Wave, with its rolling title, occasionally strives for but fails to convey. You can see McCain in this book struggling to reconcile himself to what his Republican Party has largely become, even if he declines to come right out and say so ... One of the striking aspects of this new book is how often McCain — who says his dire medical prognosis leaves him “freer” to speak his mind and vote his conscience “without worry” — insists on playing it safe. The six-term senator from Arizona slips in a few careful mentions of Donald J. Trump, and expresses concern about the rancor that has overtaken the country, but he generally stops short of calling out the president or his cabinet ... Blink and you might miss his critique ... The Restless Wave is a wistful book; McCain wants to rally Americans around helping an imperiled world, rather than accept that the call might be coming from inside the house.