I first read the hard copy of this in 2005. It was actually part of an estate handed down to my wife and one night I picked it up, not knowing the magnificent story it was about to tell. I enjoyed it thoroughly (then) only to be surprised a few years later by the HBO mini-series of the same title. And though the cast does an excellent job of bringing the Founding Fathers to life, they just didn’t tell the entire story. John Adams was an unsung hero in the birth of our country and this book will confirm it.
From the first chapter, John Adams is portrayed as a modest family man, loboring as an attorney in colonial America. He is then thrust into the spotlight by successfully defending the British soldiers of the Boston Massacre. From there he is asked by the British Crown to join them only to stick with “his country.” He, along with his son becomes an ambassador to the United States, and then, thru the remainder of the book, he is essentially a pain in the butt! And you as the listener will be enthralled. You will enjoy every minute!
I only wish that Mr McCullough could have narrated or even Grover Gardner. Nelson Runger does an adequate job, though I feel historical accounts should be reserved for those two legendary voices. Nonetheless, don’t waste a moment and pick this one up. You might be surprised. And then watch the mini-series and compare the performances as you may agree that Giamatti though excellent, sells, Mr. Adams a bit short. Enjoy
Tired teacher. That is, REtired teacher.
I revere all of the founding fathers, and I suppose I am on a quest to read about many of them, having just finished a book about George Washington, and having just started one on Thomas Jefferson. The thing I am finding interesting is how different each of these men were, yet they all had much in common. Many of them did not even like each other, but they were able to come together to establish the Constitution of the United States, one of the most inspired documents ever written, and who became the founders of the United States of America, the greatest country that has ever existed. What an amazing feat they accomplished.
I enjoy reading about the details of their lives, the struggles they faced, the heartbreak and the victories. John Adams had his share of all of these. I love the tone of his writings. They crack me up sometimes, but they are always eloquent. Years ago, our community theater presented the play "1776". I must say the authors of that play captured the essence of John Adams and the color of his writings very well. It was like reuniting with an old friend to read many of his words in this book. And I so admire the love affair he carried on for many years with his wife Abigail. I was heartbroken for him as I read about her death because she was truly his best friend and helpmeet.
All in all, he is a great example to us in so many ways. I wish there were more leaders like him around today. Lord knows we need them!
This Pulitzer Prize winning biography by David McCullough has become a classic work. John Adams is one of the most interesting and, before this book was published, one of the least known of the Founding Fathers. Born to a farmer in Braintree, Massachusetts Adams went to Harvard and then studied law. He became a respected attorney in the Boston area. He met and married the brilliant Abigail Smith he proceeded to and they produced four children who lived to maturity. From there his career took off. He defended the British soldiers who fired on a mob. He served in both Continental Congresses. He served on the diplomatic mission to France. While in Europe he helped to secure loans from Dutch bankers to keep the American Revolution going. He served on the peace commission. He was named the first ambassador to Great Britain. Returning home he become the first Vice-President and the second President of the United States.
McCullough bring out the brilliant and irascible character of Adams. Adams was brilliant. In fact he was one of the most brilliant men of his age. A man of passionate and fiery temper he often rubbed people the wrong way. He was well known as one of the great orators of his time. His speeches on behalf of Independence helped to lead the way to the Declaration of Independence. As brilliant as he was as a thinker and a speaker he always seemed to have a hard time getting his thoughts on to paper. He tended to write material that was long and rambling. He also never seemed to grasp that other people were not as well read as himself, nor were they capable of understanding some of the subtleties of his thought. A thoroughly practical man he seemed to not understand that he lived in a day of rhetoric and idealism.
The period that Adams lived in and helped to define was a complex period. New ideas were coming together that would change the world forever. So many things that we take for granted, the idea of individual rights, freedom of speech, even freedom of thought, were not accepted as the norm. In fact many believed that a society founded on such ideas was considered dangerous and unlikely to succeed.
As alway, McCullough’s prose is masterful. He has the writer’s gift of making complex issues come alive and seem easy to understand. So many scenes remain with you. You can see the rage of the mob and the fear of the British soldiers as they fire on the crowd at the Boston Massacre. You feel the cramped and stuffy conditions of the Congress as it debates the idea of independence. Most of all you get to know the characters. You get to know, and love the irascible Adams. You get to know his brilliant wife, Abigail, who was the great love of his life. So many other people come out. You feel the friendship that he had with Thomas Jefferson. You feel the pain that he felt when Jefferson chose party ideology over friendship. The pain that his children, except for his oldest son John Quincy, brought to him is heartbreaking. If you have never read this book you should do so. It is a brilliant work of history, and a wonderful work of literature.
A very interesting and accurate account of an amazing man. Slow and mediocre narration but easy to ignore with such engaging stories.
This book is well written and tells you a lot about the Adamses in general, and John in particular. John and Abigail (and John Quincy for that matter) left behind so many letters and writings that scholars still haven't been able to go through them all. This book also shines a light on daily life in their day, which we can only see because the Adamses left behind so many writings. I highly recommend this book.
Addicted to Audible since 2009
This was a good listen but overall, I found it to be a tad boring. Edcuational but again, a little too boring for my liking and the narrator didn't quite help in that department.
Thanks to writers likeMcCullough, history will soon lose its label as long, boring, or dull. I watched part of the movie taken from this book, and became uninterested halfway through. With this book and this reading, I never lost interest at all, but managed to learn much about the greatness (and humanness) of this founding father, and much about the others as well; most dlightfully, I came to a better understanding of the incredible events leading up to the formation of our nation, as well as the precarious years of bringing this great experiment to fruition. Such beautifulluy presented research makes me marvel: never an awkward quotation or unnecessary interpretation. What a gift to modern Americans, who now have every reason to know their origins and understand them at some depth.
A well written and well read account of the life of John Adams, Farmer, Lawyer, Statesman. referencing the rich collection of correspondence that John and Abigail Adams took part in during their long and busy lives, John Adams and the historical figures who surround him, Jefferson, Washington, Hamilton etc. come into focus as real people, both more and less then the sum of their public works.
Listening to this audiobook was pure joy. McCollough tells an engrossing story and the narrator (Nelson Runger) does a great job of relaying it. Adams has become one of my favorite Founding Fathers and his relationship with Abigail is inspiring. Highly recommended for both those interested in a detailed look at this time and individual and those just interested in a good story.
I love McCullough's work. His manner of telling stories is great because he always connects the dots and reminds readers/listeners about why something is said or done, and why it is important enough to include in the story. His characterizations and descriptions of people leave vivid images. It helps the reader/listener visualize what the moment was like. The story of John Adams is a great story to tell. McCullough does a good job of appearing to be fair in his assessment of Adams. I say "appears" because I am sure that some points of Adam's life are debated by historians. McCullough, however, does not imply that his assessment is the only view. He seems to want to be balanced and fair-minded. This is probably best seen in McCullough's description of all that went on between Adams and Jefferson. The reader is good. He does seem to mispronounce some names, but who knows - maybe I've had it wrong all along. The book is a solid A+ and the reader is a good A-.