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John Adams Paperback – Jan 29 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 543 customer reviews

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99 by Wayne Gretzky 99 by Wayne Gretzky

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Media Tie-In edition (Jan. 29 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 141657588X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416575887
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 3.8 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 336 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 543 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #577,820 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

Left to his own devices, John Adams might have lived out his days as a Massachusetts country lawyer, devoted to his family and friends. As it was, events swiftly overtook him, and Adams--who, David McCullough writes, was "not a man of the world" and not fond of politics--came to greatness as the second president of the United States, and one of the most distinguished of a generation of revolutionary leaders. He found reason to dislike sectarian wrangling even more in the aftermath of war, when Federalist and anti-Federalist factions vied bitterly for power, introducing scandal into an administration beset by other difficulties--including pirates on the high seas, conflict with France and England, and all the public controversy attendant in building a nation.

Overshadowed by the lustrous presidents Washington and Jefferson, who bracketed his tenure in office, Adams emerges from McCullough's brilliant biography as a truly heroic figure--not only for his significant role in the American Revolution but also for maintaining his personal integrity in its strife-filled aftermath. McCullough spends much of his narrative examining the troubled friendship between Adams and Jefferson, who had in common a love for books and ideas but differed on almost every other imaginable point. Reading his pages, it is easy to imagine the two as alter egos. (Strangely, both died on the same day, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.) But McCullough also considers Adams in his own light, and the portrait that emerges is altogether fascinating. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Here a preeminent master of narrative history takes on the most fascinating of our founders to create a benchmark for all Adams biographers. With a keen eye for telling detail and a master storyteller's instinct for human interest, McCullough (Truman; Mornings on Horseback) resurrects the great Federalist (1735-1826), revealing in particular his restrained, sometimes off-putting disposition, as well as his political guile. The events McCullough recounts are well-known, but with his astute marshaling of facts, the author surpasses previous biographers in depicting Adams's years at Harvard, his early public life in Boston and his role in the first Continental Congress, where he helped shape the philosophical basis for the Revolution. McCullough also makes vivid Adams's actions in the second Congress, during which he was the first to propose George Washington to command the new Continental Army. Later on, we see Adams bickering with Tom Paine's plan for government as suggested in Common Sense, helping push through the draft for the Declaration of Independence penned by his longtime friend and frequent rival, Thomas Jefferson, and serving as commissioner to France and envoy to the Court of St. James's. The author is likewise brilliant in portraying Adams's complex relationship with Jefferson, who ousted him from the White House in 1800 and with whom he would share a remarkable death date 26 years later: July 4, 1826, 50 years to the day after the signing of the Declaration. (June) Forecast: Joseph Ellis has shown us the Founding Fathers can be bestsellers, and S&S knows it has a winner: first printing is 350,000 copies, and McCullough will go on a 15-city tour; both Book-of-the-Month Club and the History Book Club have taken this book as a selection.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: 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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