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5.0 out of 5 stars school book
this is a school book that is required reading for my daughter. It is over $10 cheaper than her school bookstore.
Published 13 months ago by liisa shafer

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1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
First off, I am an avid fan of David McCullough's work. I loved Truman, 1776, and Mornings On Horseback. It's funny, I don't like giving any negative criticism to McCullough, mainly because he is a fine author. However, I disliked this book immensely.

I found as I was reading it, I grew bored. It felt watered down and filtered. I sometimes had a difficult...
Published 20 months ago by jeffthewise


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4.0 out of 5 stars You almost can't help but be won over, July 16 2013
By 
Rodge (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: John Adams (Paperback)
Knowing that this book had a favorable view of John Adams, and considering that John Adams served alongside giants such as Washington, Jefferson and Franklin, I thought perhaps this book would practice raising John Adams' reputation by diminishing the reputation of historical giants. I found that not to be the case. To be sure, the human foibles of Washington, Jefferson & Franklin are pointed out - but so are those of Adams. Rather, this book simply uses the life and accomplishments of Adams to show beyond reasonable doubt the importance of this man to the founding of the United States.

And it is fascinating and not difficult to read. But that is no surprise, considering this is David McCullough we're talking about. This is one case where it's safe to believe the hype.
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5.0 out of 5 stars school book, March 1 2013
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This review is from: John Adams (Paperback)
this is a school book that is required reading for my daughter. It is over $10 cheaper than her school bookstore.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, Aug. 8 2012
This review is from: John Adams (Paperback)
First off, I am an avid fan of David McCullough's work. I loved Truman, 1776, and Mornings On Horseback. It's funny, I don't like giving any negative criticism to McCullough, mainly because he is a fine author. However, I disliked this book immensely.

I found as I was reading it, I grew bored. It felt watered down and filtered. I sometimes had a difficult time following the chronology. I also found it lacked the "meat and potatoes" that I enjoy in historical biographies. The politics and events surrounding the revolution and Adams vice presidency and presidency seemed like a mere summary, likened to the entries you might find on Wikipedia, rather than the detailed naration I was expecting. I remember one line from the book, where McCullough referenced General Howe's comment regarding how quickly Washington fortified Dorechester Heights, and McCullough simply named him "the British commander". I thought to myself, yes, he has a name. Why don't you say it? I felt there was a general lack of depth in many areas I hoping to be more meaty, especially The Alien and Sedition Acts (I see this was mentioned by several other reviewers). Sometimes, I felt like I had missed key aspects of the narration altogether. One example is when Adams was chosen to represent Massachusetts at the Continental Congress. I had glossed over that point entirely, and found myself thinking, did he mention he was chosen to do this? I found myself flipping back on different paragraphs, only to find a mere mention of it, hidden in the fluff. This is was a recurring theme throughout the book.

One of the things I like about David McCullough is how he likes to break misconceptions regarding his topics. A really good example is Truman, who's presidency is oft treated as a mere afterthought. In Truman, McCullough, although favorable to Truman, showed both sides of the story, displaying warts and all. I felt this lacking in his work on Adams, and the scale tipped too far towards a favorable view of Adams.

I will say this; the book is an approachable book, and easy to read, like most of McCullough's books. McCullough writes like he is speaking to you, instead of hiding the facts in obtuse and overly technical text. But if you are looking for detail, and "meat and potatoes" rather than dessert, I believe you will be greatly disappointed.

In closing, I'll add I read this book immediately after reading Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow. The contrast couldn't be greater between these two books. I found Chernow's work to be an excellent read, chock full of all the details I longed for, and the type of balance I was seeking in John Adams.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A lesson in friendship, April 12 2012
By 
Marc Ranger "Baseball fan" (québec, canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: John Adams (Paperback)
I knew beforehand who was John Adams, but not much more. Now I know! The author did some tremendous research work on one of the founding father of the United States.

There are no weak part in this book. Adams's life is told in an highly interesting manner. His passage at Harvard, his work in Congress, his many appointments in Europe, the vice-presidency and the presidency are all well covered and explained brillantly.

Some would say that the relation with his wife Abigail is the backbone of the story but, for my taste, his friendship with Thomas Jefferson is far more interesting. How could 2 opposite political rivals, so at odds on many subjects (most importantly slavery) could get along and open themselves to the other is almost beyond comprehension. They sure give a hard lesson to today's political class.

All in all, John Adams is the story of the newborn country, but first and foremost a lesson in friendship.

I highly recommend the book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best biographies I have read..., July 12 2004
By 
This review is from: John Adams (Paperback)
This book is a very readable book. Unlike some other history books which are dry, this one reads like a novel. I loved how they showed the personal side of a public man. His loving relationship with his wife Abigail is revealed through letters he wrote her. I also loved how the author described John Adams relationship with Thomas Jefferson, down to the little details like when they shared a room in philly one wanted the window open and the other wanted it closed. This book shows that the founding fathers did not live in a vacuum, all alone, responding to each others politics; but that they were freinds with complex relationships. I like how this book lets us see our countries greatest patriots as real people. I highly reccomend this book, there is a sage like quality to it. If this was the kind of reading offered in high school or college, I might have been more interested in history.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pulitzer Prize Winning for Good Reason, Sept. 25 2009
By 
B. Breen "Canuckster1127" (Sterling, VA USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: John Adams (Paperback)
It's pretty much an excercise in repeating praise to comment upon this stellar biography of John Adams, and so I'll just limit my comments to say that the lauding of the readibility of this book combined with the well written insights into this Founding Father and early president are all well placed. There is clearly a well researched effort that brings the reader into the world of John Adams and family as well as by necessity in close brushes with Washington and Jefferson too.

It's sadly interesting to see the attempts at criticism from the lesser luminaries whom it appears, probably have more chance at being read in rebuttal to McCullough than their own primary efforts would appear otherwise.

The proof, as it were is in the pudding. While this work is very well referenced and based in solid research, it's value is that it reads cleanly and clearly inviting the common reader in to know and understand better both the man and the times. To have approached it otherwise, as some appear to suggest with a more academic emphasis, would no doubt have endeared it to those whose lives are spent in the midst of dusty tomes and intellectual sophistry , but the point is that because it is so seamlessly written and interestingly presented, the impact is much broader for the effort and the bonus is that the accurasy really doesn't suffer for it, except to the narrowest of academics who appear to need to justify themselves by casting stones from their ivory towers.

Well worth the time and effort to read.

5 undisputed stars.

Bart Breen
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Biography Worthy Of Its Subject!, Feb. 3 2007
By 
James Gallen (St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: John Adams (Audio Cassette)
"John Adams" by David McCullough is talented rendition of a unique story. Despite being remembered as the pigmy sandwiched between two giants, Washington and Jefferson, McCullough portrays Adams as an immensely important and interesting character in his own right. Adams is shown as being at the heart of many crucial events of our revolutionary and early national history. It was Adams of the Continental Congress who was the prime promoter of Independence and the nominator of George Washington for the post of commander of the Continental Army. He then carried out a series of diplomatic assignments in Europe, in which he was the intimate collaborator with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Among his unique diplomatic accomplishments were the negotiation of a Dutch loan at a crucial stage of the Revolution and participation in the negotiation of the peace treaty ending the Revolution. Upon his return to America he wrote the constitution of Massachusetts before serving eight years as Washington's loyal vice-president.

Adams was one of those rare figures whose greatest for whom the presidency was not the office in which he rendered his greatest service. His mistake of retaining Washington's cabinet compounded his misfortune of having his prime political rival as vice-president and a deadly enemy, Alexander Hamilton as a leader of his won party. This left him leading an administration rife with sabotage. These factors handicapped him as he confronted issues of peace or war abroad and subversion at home. Having to function more as a sole actor than a leader of men, his administration is generally regarded as a failure. His term was influential, largely in the maintenance of peace and appointment of John Marshall to the Supreme Court.

Through much of this book the reader is treated to an interwoven mini-biography of Thomas Jefferson. Through this dual biography the reader comes to understand the dichotomy of these two friends, but rivals, collaborators and opponents and, ultimately, correspondents. Their timely demises on the Fiftieth Independence Day are seen as nothing less than providential.

As the readers of my reviews are aware, I have read very many biographies. Few match "John Adams" for quality.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Among the best I've ever read, June 17 2004
This review is from: John Adams (Paperback)
This book is one of the best of any kind I have ever read. It has received high praise, including a Pulitzer Prize, all of which is richly deserved. McCullough paints a vivid picture of Adams and his greatness while also showing his human weaknesses. The book draws heavily on Adams's written correspondence with his wife and with Jefferson, giving a wonderful insight into not just his political ideas, but his personal relationships. I also found the descriptions of life during the 1700s to be particularly compelling. It was a much different world than the one we live in today and McCullough artfully brings that world to life. I really can't say enough good things about this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine Biography of a Great American, May 6 2004
By 
Mark J. Fowler "Let's Play Two!" (Blytheville, Arkansas (The "the" is silent)) - See all my reviews
This review is from: John Adams (Paperback)
David McCullough has done a great service to the memory of John Adams and to all who are fortunate enough to read this biography.
With so many other reviews posted here I wanted to mention an aspect I found fascinating about the book: The contrast depicted between John Adams and two other prominent Founding Fathers - Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. These three worked together frequently and prominently as the United States was being created, yet they were quite dissimilar except for their commitment to the success of American Independence. Adams was a pious, hard-working New Englander - a stark contrast to the Benjamin Franklin who was a generation older, not particularly religious, fond of his leisure time, and with an eye for the ladies, even in his later years. The Northerner Adams thought slavery evil, yet was able to reconcile his personal feelings ably enough to develop a fond life-long friendship and working relationship with the slave-owning Virginian Jefferson. One of the most enjoyable portions of this book is the depiction of the two former Presidents in their later years, trading correspondence about the "good old days" after reconciling from a feud which was likely precipitated by the Mischief-causing Hamilton.
This book is a pleasure to read and unless you are already a Revolutionary Scholar of the highest order, you'll learn a few things as well.
I recommend it highly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keep Your Friends Close and Your Enemies Even Closer, March 20 2004
By 
Nancy Martin (Pennsylvania (orig. NY)) - See all my reviews
This review is from: John Adams (Hardcover)
I found this book absolutely fascinating and it has now inspired me to read some other biographies on those men who formed the principles by which we live today. Fortunately for the author, most of the members of the Adams family were prolific letter writers helping us to get a peak inside their eighteenth century world. These letters have become the foundation of so much of the historical fact of that time.
As I was reading about the difficulties between Adams and Franklin and then between Adams and Jefferson, I couldn't stop thinking about that saying, "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer" because John Adams, in his quest to be a good American, did in fact make some enemies. It's amazing that he made it to the Presidency with all the animosity surrounding him.
I'm certainly not going to relate the story as told by the author in this book as there are five hundred other reviews that can tell you that. What I'd like to share are the things that amazed me. Sure I studied John Adams in school but can one truly study a leader of our country without reading an in depth biography? I don't think so.
Things that surprised me....
I was blown away to learn that everyone who was nominated actually ran for President and the runner up became Vice President. I don't remember learning that years ago. It gave me a good laugh to think of George Bush today with Al Gore as his Vice President.
I was also shocked that Adams kept Washington's cabinet basically in tact when he assumed office, even though many of them were from an opposing party. What was he thinking?
The book certainly does not show Thomas Jefferson (very liberal), Alexander Hamilton (a conspirator) and Ben Franklin (should have been French) in the best light. My mission now is to read these biographies to see if McCullough was being biased or objective.
Adams was a huge proponent of the Navy and here are two great quotes from him....
"Peace was attainable only as a consequence of America's growing naval strength."
"A strong defense and a desire for peace are compatible."
Now there's some food for thought.
And here is the most amazing bit of trivia I learned while reading this book.....
John Adams, signer of the Declaration of Independence, died on July 4, 1826 on the 50th anniversary of this signing.
Thomas Jefferson, signer of the Declaraton of Independence, died on July 4, 1826 on the 50th anniversary of this signing.
I can't get over this coincidence. These two founding fathers died on the same day within hours of each other....the most momentous anniversary of not only their lives but of ours as well.
I have come to the conclusion that John Adams was a true patriot who wanted only to serve his country in the only way he knew how......honestly.
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John Adams
John Adams by David McCullough (Paperback - Sept. 3 2002)
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