John McCain’s somber passing on August 25, 2018 impresses upon readers a new meaning for the book, than if it were not read posthumously. Even in its title, “The Restless Wave” chronicles the life of a less-than-ordinary man able to accomplish extraordinary things. It shows all of the messy details of an unappreciated dedication to service, as readers receive valuable exposure and insight into the mind of McCain and his logic when approaching the more senseless, brutal, boring, and sometimes meaningless aspects of life. The work captures the life of a man dead set on remaining objective and true in his dedication to the United States, despite his own defeats in military and political service. McCain’s internal struggle as a person and his attempts to understand how his service in military influenced and overlapped with his service to the United States resonates due to its contrast of McCain’s relatively low, and often ridiculed public profile. Mocked by Republicans due to his loss to then Senator Obama, dismissed as having bad judgment for choosing Sarah Palin as a running partner, and ridiculed by Trump for being a prisoner of war, McCain’s death marks the end of an era of calmer, more rational, and more polite sensibilities across all U.S. citizens.
Sadly, it likely will be that only in death that McCain’s silent strength and his genuine love for the United States ring poignant and receive their full, proper public recognition. As the book closes, it becomes impossible to deny McCain’s reverence for the United States: “What has distinguished us in the great chapters of our history, the attitude that had so impressed Saint-Exupéry, whose observations are displayed today in the D-Day museum at Utah Beach, is that we have seen our interests in the world as inextricably linked to the global progress of our ideals.” Readers come to understand the complexity of a man who revered a nation and its people and persevered to reach its pinnacle, but who came to a depressing realization that he simply was not wanted by those wishing for a greater optimism in their futures. A man who had that same optimism in his aspirations and ambitions like anyone, but who died misunderstood and mocked for trying to be great and attempting fill the shoes of the leader of a nation he held dear.