The late John McCain recorded an interview about the writer Ernest Hemingway for a documentary film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick examining the author’s life for PBS, Axios reports.
The three-part, six-hour long documentary film, titled “Hemingway,” features an interview with the late senator about “For Whom The Bell Tolls” and the book’s hero, Robert Jordan.
"I was 12 years old. I found a four-leaf clover and I [pressed] it in a book so I could preserve it. ... That happened to be 'For Whom the Bell Tolls,' still the great American novel. And I started reading and I couldn’t stop until I finished,” McCain says in the documentary, which will premier on Monday.
In the film, a narrator notes that the book, which was published in 1940, "is set in 1937, when the defeat of Franco’s fascist forces had still seemed possible. Its hero is an idealistic young American college instructor named Robert Jordan, with some knowledge of explosives and no political affiliation other than hatred of fascism, who finds himself part of a guerrilla band that undertakes a doomed mission to dynamite a bridge."
McCain adds, "My hero is Robert Jordan. Robert Jordan is as real to me as you are. He was working as a professor in the University of Montana. ... But he heard about this struggle. He knew about fascism. He knew what Hitler and Mussolini were doing.
"And he decided to go and fight on behalf of people he had never met and he did not know. Even knowing that that cause was a flawed cause. ... But he was willing to fight and do whatever he thought he could for the cause of justice and freedom. I always wanted to be Robert Jordan."
The Hemingway Society described McCain after his death as "one of the most famous fans of Hemingway in the world today," and that he titled two of his own books after quotes from the author.
McCain wrote in his final memoir, “The Restless Wave,” that "For a long time, Robert Jordan was the man I admired above almost all others in life and fiction. He was brave, dedicated, capable, selfless, possessed in abundance that essence of courage that Hemingway described as grace under pressure — a man who would risk his life, but never his honor. He was and remains to my mind a hero for the twentieth century, my century."
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