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John Adams Paperback – Jan 29 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 543 customer reviews

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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: #43,983 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 the Audio CD 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 the Audio CD edition.

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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
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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Format: 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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Format: 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.
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