There is so much more in this book than the life of John Adams. You become entwined in the birth of a nation and also learn many little bits of history that are not common knowledge. It makes you wish the era of telehones, radio, TV, etc. had never been invented. So much more is to be learned of history through the writing of personal letters, etc. This is the first "history" book that, in the end, made me cry.
Very much enjoyed reading this book. He was an interesting man with humble beginnings and his journey was very American! I learned a lot about the history of the American revolution. The writing was quite readable, not too dry or stuffy for the subject. I had trouble at times, but overall was very glad I read this book.
It is a life encompassing a huge arc -- Adams lived longer than any president. The story ranges from the Boston Massacre to Philadelphia in 1776 to the Versailles of Louis XVI, from Spain to Amsterdam, from the Court of St. James's, where Adams was the first American to stand before King George III as a representative of the new nation, to the raw, half-finished Capital by the Potomac, where Adams was the first President to occupy the White House. This is history on a grand scale -- a book about politics and war and social issues, but also about human nature, love, religious faith, virtue, ambition, friendship and betrayal, and the far-reaching consequences of noble ideas.
Above all, John Adams is an enthralling, often surprising story of one of the most important and fascinating Americans who ever lived.
Fantastic book! This biography reads like a novel--engaging, period detail, and delivers a clear, authentic picture of the greatest of our founding fathers. One grows to appreciate the unsung hero who was Adams--not always likeable, not willing to bend to popular opinion, but always putting his country's long term needs first. My respect for Adams only grew.
Before reading this book, the few things I knew about John Adams were what I learned in middle school/ high school history class such as the XYZ Affair and the Alien and Sedition Acts, the portrayal of him by William Daniels in the movie 1776, and that he had a lot of love and respect for his wife Abigail. Beyond that, I knew hopelessly little about Adams. McCullough's book gives us a rather detailed and interesting look at a man who isn't typically given the credit he deserved for helping to make our country what it is today. Adams was one of the most ardent supporters of American independence and would continue to be a stalwart patriot by doing what he felt was right, even when it went against public opinion. Adams was a driving force behind the Declaration of Independence, served valiantly as America's ambassador to both France and Britain, and unfortunately was "thrown under the bus" by members of his own party and even his closest friends (Thomas Jefferson being a notable example) in order to advance their own agendas. Adams is a great example of the "everyman politician" as he was not as well off as other Founding Fathers such as Washington, Jefferson, and even Franklin. Adams had to carefully watch his spending, even as President, to ensure that his family would not go under financially. McCullough draws upon the fact that Adams was a prolific writer (essays, letters, his diary) and notes how the entire Adams family has arguably the large collection of writing for any American family, which is why such a clear, detailed picture of events can be portrayed. I really enjoyed reading about his relationship with his wife Abigail and how for a man of that time period, he really valued and trusted her opinion on everything. I found it interesting that other political figures, Jefferson included, also corresponded with Abigail to get her opinion on various things. She probably could have been a good politician in her own right had it been allowed at the time. The first 100 or so pages dragged a bit for me, I think because the events jumped around in "flashback mode" rather than following a linear pattern. However, once the events were told in a more linear fashion, I found myself enjoying this book very much. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the early days of America as a new nation or for anyone interested in reading a good biography! :-)
A superb Biography. Well worth its Pulitzer. Provided a lot of new information that has been lost in history as usually brought out. Showa him to be the person that brought forth more of our founding history than any other book I have read in decades.
David McCullough does a wonderful job of researching and writing. His writing style surrounds one with history in a manner that is very enjoyable and engaging. Edward Herrmann as narrator is another pleasing element that allows history to come alive. I have read the book and listened to the audio multiple times and enjoy it each and every time. I highly recommend David McCullough's body of work.
Although this subject manner could have been very dry, McCullough has written it in a manner which keeps it interesting, particularly the relationship between Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Edward Hermann is an excellent narrator and his voice is well-suited to the task. Strongly recommended for those who wish to know more about the beginnings of American history and independence.
I read the whole book (kind of unusual for me), it gave a flavor of what a narcissic a**hole he was (I mean that in a loving, patriotic, way). You wonder whether we would be an independent nation if it wasn't for him.
I'm sorry, but I couldn't read this book. I tried, but it was really dry and bogged down in minutia. I know I'm in the minority, most people seem to have loved the book, but I just couldn't ever get into it. It took me over a year of trying to get through the first 100 pages. I finally just gave up and sent it on since it was a highly requested wish list book.
This book didn't win a Pulitizer Prize for nothin! It is skillfully written and a brilliantly told story. A must read if you are into early american history. It tells the story of Adams's life with all of the myth of a founding father stripped away.
An intriguing account of the times and the life of John Adams in Puritan Massachusetts. Read Benjamin Frankin's bigraphies for countering views and opinions to get a glimpse at how Franklin, and perhaps others, viewed John Adams as narrow and small minded.
Awesome! Stunning. Just amazing read real insight on what life was like and the political atmosphere of our contry at its birth. Very interesting to realize that some of the problems we face today wherre problems that we faced in the early 1800's.
I read the unabridged version of this book shortly after it was published, mainly because of curiosity engendered by a friendship. In the 1950's I was stationed with a direct descendant of Adams in Washington DC. Frankly, I wasn't impressed with either the book or the subject and struggled to get through it. While Adams did yeoman service to our country, being the spirit behind the Declaration of Independence and the father of the US Navy, I found him to be what toward the end of the last century we would have called a "tight-a**", quite pompous, stodgy, and judgmental, a man who gloried in his humility and was quite proud of it (a little contradiction in terms there). I plowed through the book because I felt obligated.
Many years later, the TV mini-series was released to almost universal acclaim, but I had been so disappointed in the book I didn't watch it. Ever since I've had people not normally interested in history or politics tell me how wonderful it was, so I promised myself I'd watch it if I ever got the chance to do so for free (I haven't had the opportunity yet).
The last several years, I have gotten in the habit of listening to audio books whenever I'm in the car. So when I came across this very nice abridgement at Half Price Books and had a 20% off discount coupon to boot, I thought I'd give it a try - maybe I missed something the first time. Normally I refuse to listen to abridgements, but in this case it turns out I appreciated the brevity. Also, listening to this book while driving was easier than reading it again - less opportunity to go to sleep. While I re-learned a few things about Adams and John Quincy Adams, I still didn't like the book.
Postscript: July 4th weekend 2014 HBO reran the entire miniseries, so I finally got to watch it. It was nice to put faces and scenes with what I had read, but I noticed a lot of embroidery - things occurring that I don't remember from either the book or the audio cd's. There seems to have been an awful lot of Hollywood poetic license in the video interpretation of what was originally written, something most folks wouldn't have detected at all.
This book was well written for the most part. It covered all aspects of his life before and after his presidency. He made a lot of safrices for our country especially being away from his family so much. During his presidency problems with the french were unclear to me but overall I did enjoy reading it.
For lovers of history, David McCullough never disappoints. This biography should be a must read for all high school students. It is quite possibly the clearest example of the political battle between the Federalists (Adams) and the advocates of states rights (Jefferson). Of course, we know who won.
A fascinating book that reds like a novel and gives great insight into our second President,the founding fathers and the fight for Independence. John Adams was a Man to be revered and admired. He gave much of his life and his families lives so that we may live in a free America. He had the courage and the fortitude to stand up to congress for his beliefs which were not always popular. I have read other books on this great man and this book gives a more accurate account of his health of body and mind. He did not have Hyperthyroidism as some books will tell you. He was passionate about his beliefs and we owe this President our gratitude that he was. A great companion book that gives you a fuller picture on Abigail and John Adams and their beginnings is Abigail Adams by Janet Whitney.