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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: #692,220 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 Hardcover 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 Hardcover 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
Until I read this book, I knew very little about John Adams (October 30, 1735 - July 4, 1826), the man who was the second President of the United States (1797-1801). I knew, vaguely, that he was one of the Founding Fathers, and that John Quincy Adams (the sixth President of the United States) was his son. Reading this book filled in many of the gaps in my knowledge. As well, by drawing on their copious correspondence, Mr McCullough's biography brought John Adams and his wife Abigail to life. It may have been unfortunate for Abigail and John that they had to spend so much time apart, but historians have benefitted as a consequence. We'd know a lot less about John and Abigail Adams without their letters.

This is a biography of a man who may have been a reluctant politician but proved himself to be a loyal and tenacious patriot. The life and career of John Adams makes for fascinating reading: his marriage to Abigail Smith and his relationship with Thomas Jefferson are central to this biography, but it's the wealth of information about people and places that provides context for the events of the 18th and 19th century as experienced by John Adams during his long life, and which shaped the formation of the fledgling republic.

It seems entirely fitting, really, that both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on 4 July 1826: their long relationship brought to a close fifty years after the United States Declaration of Independence which John Adams assisted Thomas Jefferson in drafting.

I found this book to be an engrossing read: I learned a lot about John Adams and his family; about the establishment of the American republic; and about European politics of the time as well.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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Format: 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.
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