As McCain Shaped Book, Book Shaped McCain

Process of writing memoir recast Republican's political persona
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 13, 2008 2:51 PM CDT
Republican presidential candidate John McCain pauses to wave to media as he boards his campaign plane in Washington today.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – As recently as 1998, John McCain told Esquire that being introduced as a “great war hero” was enough to “make your skin crawl.” Today, however, his POW experience is a pillar of his presidential campaign, a change David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times attributes to the formative process of crafting his family memoir Faith of My Fathers.

Literary heroes have always loomed large for McCain. While writing Faith with Mark Salter in 1999, its storyline, with the POW episode as coming-of-age literary device, fashioned him into one. When huge crowds started showing up at book signings, strategists in McCain’s 2000 primary run realized the story’s power and “reshaped McCain’s political identity” to capitalize on it, Kirkpatrick writes.