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John Adams Gets his Due

  • Mar 1, 2009
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McCullough has done a great service in reminding us what an important influence John Adams had in the founding of our nation. He is too often a forgotten figure in our nation's pantheon of founders. Adams' importance in securing our independence and protecting and perpetuating the federal government under the Constitution is arguably greater than Thomas Jefferson's.

Among Adams' accomplishments:

(1) He was an important influence in the committee that revised Jefferson's draft of the Declaration of Independence and did the most to argue for and push for its passage by the Continental Congress.

(2) He was the one who made the original motion to make George Washington the general of the army commissioned by the Continental Congress to prosecute the Revolutionary War.

(3) He played a key administrative and political role during the Revolutionary War.

(4) He wrote the constitution of the State of Massachusetts, the oldest functioning constitution in the world, and a key model upon with the Constitution of the United States is based.

(5) He was instrumental in securing the aid of France and foreign loans during the Revolutionary War.

(6) He was a key negotiator of peace with Britain ending the Revolutionary War.

(7) He had the unenviable task of following George Washington as 2nd President of the United States and - despite a few serious mistakes - was able to keep the union intact and keep the U.S. out of war with France or Britain.

The biography is well written and illuminating - really absolutely fascinating. It brings to life Johns Adams and his varied activities - from his loving relationship with his wife Abigail and her own important role in events to his love-hate relationship with Thomas Jefferson that spanned most of their lives.

The only quibble I have with the book is that it sometimes does not give enough detail about some key issues that Adams had to grapple with. For example, too little attention is given the Alien and Sedition acts - one of the most odious pieces of legislation signed by Adams that thwarted freedom of the press. But then again - he would have needed multiple volumes to cover everything. (As a side note - you do end up empathizing for the act given that the newspapers of the time were vicious in their personal attacks and printed stories that would be libelous by today's standards.)

Suffice it to say - this really is a must read.

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July 19, 2009
Terrific review. One of the most important books you will ever read, based primarily on the letters between John and Abigail. Too bad letter writing has become a lost art!
July 20, 2009
Thanks! If you have not read McCullough's biography of Harry Truman, do it now! :) It's long, but excellent!
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review by . November 30, 2012
John Adams was an 80-year-old former President and still constant patriot when his beloved wife wrote these words, as reported in McCullough's masterful biography: "Your father's zeal for books will be one of the last desires which will quit him," Abigail observed to [son] John Quincy in the spring of 1816, as Adams eagerly embarked on a sixteen volume French history. It is most fitting, then, that this founder, who has no monument in Washington, DC to mark his place in the pantheon …
review by . June 28, 2010
It took me several months to get through this book. It is well-researched but VERY lengthy and dry at times. Don't start it unless you are a history buff with a lot of time on your hands.      Overall, the book matched the trajectory of Adams' life. I was interested to learn about his early career as a lawyer in Boston - he defended some of the British soldiers involved in the Boston massacre. His logic for representing them is actually quite moving to read and reflect …
Quick Tip by . July 04, 2010
McCullough shows Adams to be one of the more boring men of rthe time. Unable to make a sucess in many fields, such as farmer, lawyer, diplomat so they made him the Presidnet
review by . July 01, 2010
This was an incredibly inspiring read.  The very foundation of our nation is unveiled.  John Adams was at the forefront of our nations beginnings, he is a hero and is hailed as such in this inspiring read. I would recommend this book in heartbeat to anyone.  The book reads like a novel, Mccullough writes as if he lived right along side John Adams.  He knows things that could only be attained through long and arduous research.  This book is exciting, it makes you feel proud …
Quick Tip by . June 30, 2010
Quick Tip by . June 29, 2010
David McCullough has an insight when it comes to historical figures.
Quick Tip by . June 11, 2010
Awesome book and history, Good read.
review by . July 19, 2009
Every entrepreneur gets a charge from scribbling on a blank sheet of paper and then making the dream a reality. Who then was responsible for the most audacious, successful startup in history?       The startup referenced here is, of course, the United States of America. The "original architect" was none other than John Adams. David McCoullough's deft prose describe the important contribution of a brilliant mind. Who conceived of a three branch government? That would …
review by . January 10, 2004
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. …
review by . July 10, 2002
I recently re-read two biographies. The other is Edmund Morris's biography of Theodore Roosevelt. However greatly their two subjects differ, both are written with the narrative skills of a novelist, the discipline of a consummate historian, and an objectivity which enables the reader to absorb and digest the abundance of information without manipulation by the biographer. Whereas Morris limits his attention to a period which extending from 1901 when Roosevelt became President after McKinley was …
About this book


Pulitzer Prize winning biography of the 2nd President of the United States, John Adams (October 30, 1735  – July 4, 1826).

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 ...

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ISBN-10: 0743223136
ISBN-13: 978-0743223133
Author: David McCollough
Genre: American History,Biography, Biographies & Memoirs, History, Nonfiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Date Published: September 2002
Format: Hardback,Paperback
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"Excellent biography!"
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