'Rumsfeld, who has kept a low profile since resigning in 2006, uses the book to renew his long-running feud with McCain, whom he describes as having a "hair-trigger temper" and "a propensity to shift his positions to appeal to the media".
Rumsfeld accepts almost no blame for the mistakes in Iraq in his 800-page autobiography Known and Unknown, copies of which have been obtained and published in excerpt by the New York Times and the Washington Post.
Instead, he fingers the US diplomat in charge of postwar Iraq, Paul Bremer, and criticises the former secretary of state, Colin Powell, and the former national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice.
McCain told ABC television: "I respect secretary Rumsfeld. He and I had a very, very strong difference of opinion about the strategy he was employing in Iraq, which I predicted was doomed to failure. Thank God he was relieved of his duties and we put the surge in. Otherwise we would have had a disastrous defeat in Iraq."
In the book Rumsfeld argues the Middle East would be "far more perilous than it is today" if Saddam Hussein had remained in power.
He denies he made a mistake in not sending a bigger US force to Iraq in 2003. Senior US commanders were reported at the time to have argued that the force was too small, a view apparently vindicated by the subsequent failure of American forces to stop postwar violence and looting.'