Book Review of John Adams (Audio CD) (Abridged)

John Adams (Audio CD) (Abridged)
reviewed on + 105 more book reviews


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.