John McCain is one of the most familiar figures in American politics, a figure with great appeal to many. However, his concrete governing philosophy and actual track record have been left unexamined. Matt Welch’s new book McCain: The Myth of a Maverick gives a flesh-and-bones political portrait of a man onto whom people project their own ideological fantasies. It is the first realistic assessment of what a John McCain presidency might look like. Welch lays out the root cause of the senator’s worldview: his personal transformation from underachieving youth to war hawk, in which he used the “higher power” of American nationalism to save his life and soul.