John Adams (Hardcover)
|Author: David McCullough|
|In his first book since Truman, one of America's most distinguished and popular biographers breathes life into history with this compelling look at the second president of the United States, John Adams. More than just a biography, this book looks at the birth of a young republic and explores the extraordinary factors that transformed 13 colonies into a united nation. Lots of illustrations, many in color.|
From the Publisher:
Like his masterly, Pulitzer Prize-winning biography Truman, David McCullough's John Adams has the sweep and vitality of a great novel. It is both a riveting portrait of an abundantly human man and a vivid evocation of his time, much of it drawn from an outstanding collection of Adams family letters and diaries. In particular, the more than one thousand surviving letters between John and Abigail Adams, nearly half of which have never been published, provide extraordinary access to their private lives and make it possible to know John Adams as no other major American of his founding era.
As he has with stunning effect in his previous books, McCullough tells the story from within -- from the point of view of the amazing eighteenth century and of those who, caught up in events, had no sure way of knowing how things would turn out. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, the British spy Edward Bancroft, Madame Lafayette and Jefferson's Paris "interest" Maria Cosway, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, the scandalmonger James Callender, Sally Hemings, John Marshall, Talleyrand, and Aaron Burr all figure in this panoramic chronicle, as does, importantly, John Quincy Adams, the adored son whom Adams would live to see become President.
Crucial to the story, as it was to history, is the relationship between Adams and Jefferson, born opposites -- one a Massachusetts farmer's son, the other a Virginia aristocrat and slaveholder, one short and stout, the other tall and spare. Adams embraced conflict; Jefferson avoided it. Adams had great humor; Jefferson, very little. But they were alike in their devotion to their country.
At first they were ardent co-revolutionaries, then fellow diplomats and close friends. With the advent of the two political parties, they became archrivals, even enemies, in the intense struggle for the presidency in 1800, perhaps the most vicious election in history. Then, amazingly, they became friends again, and ultimately, incredibly, they died on the same day -- their day of days -- July 4, in the year 1826.
Much about John Adams's life will come as a surprise to many readers. His courageous voyage on the frigate Boston in the winter of 1778 and his later trek over the Pyrenees are exploits that few would have dared and that few readers will ever forget.
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.
This biography of the second President of the United States is by the esteemed historian whose biography TRUMAN won a Pulitzer Prize. McCullough tells of Adams's life as a farmer and lawyer, his relationship with his beloved Abigail, and the role he played in the turbulent events which led to the founding of a nation. He explores his relationships with the other Founding Fathers, especially the important differences with his rival, Thomas Jefferson. A New York Times Editors' Choice selection for 2001.
"[C]ombines scholarly research with the readability of historical fiction." - Don McLeese May/June 2001 New York Times
'[A] lucid and compelling work....Writing in a fluent narrative style that combines a novelist's sense of drama with a scholar's meticulous attention to the historical record, Mr. McCullough gives the reader a palpable sense of the many perils attending the birth of the American nation and the heated, often acrimonious politics of the day. He conveys the momentousness of the actions undertaken by Adams and other members of the revolutionary generation, as well as the daunting odds against them, not only in winning independence but also in establishing a form of government that would endure across the years.
What comes across most insistently in this absorbing book is a sense of Adams's exuberant, conflicted and thoroughly engaging personality: an ambitious, sometimes vain statesman who was also a devoted family man; an astonishingly well-read intellectual who could see "large subjects largely" but who took his greatest pleasure in the simple chores of farm life; a politician who almost always spoke his mind." - Michiko Kakutani 05/22/2001 Washington Post Book World
"The authentic John Adams has been concealed too long in the glamorous shadows of Jefferson and Washington, and some rectification is past due. McCullough's biography will go far to provide it, for none before it--not even Gilbert Chinard's classic of a generation or more ago--has attained its height of narrative art. But that is only to be expected of the writer who is our historian laureate in waiting." - Edwin M. Yoder Jr. 05/27/2001 Boston Globe
"As in his magisterial TRUMAN, McCullough spins out the story of John Adams through scads of solidly researched anecdotes of the sort that breathe real life into nonfiction. Never does McCullough's lively prose let his tale drag down into the torpors of academe. JOHN ADAMS is that rare, solid, scholarly history so well written it's truly a pleasure to read." - Douglas Brinkley 05/27/2001 Newsday (Long Island, N.Y.)
"[McCullough] is...a master storyteller whose sentences flow with sturdy pacing and seamless grace. Those familiar with McCullough's televised voice-overs can almost hear his lean, crisp voice recounting the story of Adams' life." - Gene Seymour 06/10/2001 Harper's
"McCullough's finely crafted and eminently readable JOHN ADAMS would doubtless please the founder whom Democrats dubbed 'His Rotundity.' But in pandering to the highly remunerative national yearning for heroes, David McCullough denies Americans the critical lessons in liberty and democracy that every history of the Early Republic should teach." - Richard N. Rosenfeld September 2001