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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...
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...
Published on July 12 2004 by Harry

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars McCullogh cheerleads for our 2nd President
I enjoyed the book, but impartial it's not. From McCullogh's viewpoint, the reason that no one liked Adams was because everyone else was a jerk. It's a fairly blunt observation, but I don't know how else to put it.
Adams was a man of integrity and history has given him short shrift, but this defense is too vigorous. According to McCullogh, Adams' failings in...
Published on Nov. 27 2003 by Tim Gourley (eKeeper.com)


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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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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, March 1 2004
By 
Tin Man (New Fairfield, CT United) - See all my reviews
This review is from: John Adams (Paperback)
A great deal has been written about the number two in this particular case. John Adams was not merely the second President of the United States, he was the father of yet another American president (John Quincy Adams) and a contemporary and colleague of such historical players as Thomas Jefferson (with whom Adams seemed to have an eerie and almost supernatural link), Benjamin Franklin and James Madison: all of whom take prominent roles in "John Adams," David McCullough's thorough and deservedly lengthy biography of the longest lived American president's life.
While the rich ground of Adams' life has been probed many, many, many times since his death on July 4th, 1826, no one has blasted as much life into this story as McCullough. The author understands exactly what it takes to breathe life into material that, in other hands, has the potential to be deadly boring. Reading "John Adams," you get the feeling that McCullough could write a biography on your neighbor the plumber and make it at least passably interesting. Working with a historical character like Adams, whose long life was filled with fascinating people and deeds and who lived at a time of great change, the result is little short of mesmerizing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, great man -- but maybe not such a great guy, Jan. 28 2004
By 
S. McCloskey "sean1000" (California) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: John Adams (Paperback)
I thought the book was very well written, though I should disclose that I listened to the abridged audio version. In any case, I thought the book was great: informative, enjoyable, and with the right mix of macroscopic and microscopic detail. (I assume that the unabridged version goes into much greater detail, which I don't regret missing).
In some reviews, McCullough is criticized for being too forgiving of Adams' personal and political faults. I disagree. In fact, my overriding impression of Adams after listening to this book was that I probably would not have liked him at all had I known him personally. For someone who esteemed humility in others, he was outwardly very arrogant. And despite his frequent claims to desire the simple life, he seemed continually determined to attain high office and personal glory, even at the expense of familial relationships. He often claimed to be unconcerned with how history would remember him, but I can't help but feel that many of his letters to Jefferson and even family members were tinted with attempts to reshape his reputation for posterity. One response from Jefferson in the book suggests that even T.J. suspected Adams' motives for wanting to rehash old battles in his letters.
To be fair, I do believe that Adams sincerely changed for the better once he was out of office and out of the limelight, and that he was finally able to enjoy the company of friends and family above power and prestige. I also gained new respect for the key role that he played in building the new nation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars McCullogh cheerleads for our 2nd President, Nov. 27 2003
This review is from: John Adams (Paperback)
I enjoyed the book, but impartial it's not. From McCullogh's viewpoint, the reason that no one liked Adams was because everyone else was a jerk. It's a fairly blunt observation, but I don't know how else to put it.
Adams was a man of integrity and history has given him short shrift, but this defense is too vigorous. According to McCullogh, Adams' failings in France and England and during his first term in office had nothing to do with Adams and all to do with Jefferson and Franklin.
Never mind that Adams wasted much of his political capital in a fierce battle on what to call Washington (Mr. President).
Adams was a man of integrity that kept us out of war and who was a keen architect of our form of government. But he was a lousy diplomat and an average politician.
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Confronts prevailing liberal focus on Jefferson & Franklin, Jan. 27 2004
This review is from: John Adams (Paperback)
For God-fearing, Bible-believing, hard-working, flag-loving Americans it must sometimes be a puzzlement (if you know the whole truth about our Founding Fathers) to understand how America became as great as she did, or spawned so many generations of people just like them, if Jefferson and Franklin were our nations most influential founders.
Not to say that the latter two were not great men. But have you ever noticed the abundance of modern biographies available on Franklin and Jefferson in comparison to the relative paucity of modern material on Adams, or even Washington. The fog begins to lift when you discover, through this biography, less-than-savory facts about Franklin and Jefferson. Liberals don't want you to know those less-than-savory facts about the man who fell in love with France (Franklin) or the man who supplied us with the phrase (not found in the founding documents) "separation of church and state". And apparently they want you to know nothing at all about John Adams, because they don't write about him. Perhaps it's because he embodies all that God-fearing, hard-working, flag-loving Americans believe in. Jefferson (who was not on speaking terms with Adams for years) was more "liberal" than modern liberals. He at least was honest enough to describe Adams as the "colossus of the American revolution".
Read this book if you want to know the whole truth about the whole mosiac of bedrock people this republic was founded on. And once you've read it, spread the word.
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5.0 out of 5 stars John Adams by David McCullough, Jan. 9 2004
This review is from: John Adams (Hardcover)
The book is written in an easy-to-read narrative which will
capture the interest of any American history enthusiast.
John Adams was a graduate of Harvard College, a United States
President and busy advocate for legal clients. In 1772, he
appeared in over 200 Superior Court cases with famous clients
like John Hancock. He was a delegate to the Continental Congress.
Jonathan Sewall concluded early that Adams was headed for
greatness. His marriage to Abigail was an important milestone.
In his famous Dissertation he declared that "Liberty must at all
hazards be supported." Adams was a prime mover of the Declaration
of Independence. The work has a plethora of photographs in the
center. These famous portraits range from John Adams to
Richmond Hill, Benjamin Rush, Elbridge Gerry and Tim Pickering.
The book has some important details about his early family
life in Braintree , Massachusetts. This work makes good reading
for a large constituency of readers. It should be required
reading for people in their senior years of high school and
early collegiate years.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Masterfully written biography, Jan. 3 2004
By 
Joseph H Pierre "Joe Pierre" (Salem, OR USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: John Adams (Paperback)
I am impressed with the author's approach to our second president's biography. He writes in a fluid, narrative form that makes the book easy and interestimg to read, and John Adams seem to be a a real human being with whom you can relate. He deals with Adam's faults as well as his positive traits, and his challenges and relationships with others, as well as his love and respect for Abigail. A remarkable man.
One reviewer bemoans Adams' and Jefferson's attitude toward slavery and the fact that the "slave trade" was not condemned in the Declaration of Independence, forgetting, apparently, that the slaves were legally purchased valuable property then, and that at the time, slave holding was an accepted practice throughout the world. The Congress at the time was trying to bind the states together, not to drive wedges between them.
This book does not indulge in questioning the cultural practices at the time of John Adams, but rather attempts to describe and explain them. I think the author does a masterful job, and depicts the genius of our founding fathers--and especially John Adams--as accurately as possible. I think he does a wonderful job, and makes the history of the day a delight to read, and understand.
As far as I am concerned, at least, McCullough has done a masterful job, and he depicts John Admas and his contemporaries neutrally, while still remaining sympathetic to their problems and the fine line they walked in seeking their independence from Great Britain, putting their lives on the line in the process.
I fail to see how any American today can find fault with the fathers of our country, considering the information they had, the education available to them, and the monumental task they faced. For myself, I am unutterably grateful that such men were available, with their wisdom and foresight.
I am particularly impressed that they recognized the dangers of a democratic form of government, and rejected it in favor of a Constitutional representative republic, which, it seems, since that time we have gradually, insidiously, relinguished in favor of the socialism we are living under today, irrespective of the Constitution they so carefully crafted.
John Adams, as our first vice-president, second president, representative to France and England, and a recognized genius by most historians was certainly one of the most influential of our founders, and deserves the gratitude of us all, considering his life in retrospect.
Joseph (Joe) Pierre, USN(Ret)

author of Handguns and Freedom...their care and maintenance
and other books

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John Adams
John Adams by David McCullough (Paperback - Sept. 3 2002)
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