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John Adams | [David McCullough]

John Adams

McCullough's John Adams has the sweep and vitality of a great novel. This is history on a grand scale, an audiobook about politics, 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, it is an enthralling, often surprising story of one of the most important and fascinating Americans who ever lived.
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Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, Biography/Autobiography, 2002

In this powerful, epic biography, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough unfolds the adventurous life-journey of John Adams, the brilliant, fiercely independent, often irascible, always honest Yankee patriot who spared nothing in his zeal for the American Revolution. Adams thought, wrote, and spoke out for the "Great Cause" come what might; he traveled far and wide in all seasons and often at extreme risk; he rose to become the second president of the United States and saved the country from blundering into an unnecessary war; he was rightly celebrated for his integrity, and regarded by some as "out of his senses"; and his marriage to the wise and valiant Abigail Adams is one of the most moving love stories in American history.

Much about Adams' life will come as a surprise to many. His rocky relationship with friend and eventual archrival Thomas Jefferson, his courageous voyage on the frigate Boston in the winter of 1778, and his later trek over the Pyrenees are exploits few would have dared and that few listeners will ever forget.

McCullough's John Adams has the sweep and vitality of a great novel. This is history on a grand scale, an audiobook about politics, 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, it is an enthralling, often surprising story of one of the most important and fascinating Americans who ever lived.

©2001 David McCullough; (P)2001 Recorded Books, All Rights Reserved; AUDIOWORKS is an imprint of Simon & Schuster Audio Division, Simon & Schuster Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Brilliant...a winner." (Publishers Weekly)
"McCullough writes to be heard as well as read." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (2402 )
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Performance
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  •  
    James 10-26-14
    James 10-26-14 Member Since 2014

    Addicted to reading traditional books. Overwhelmed by backlog of books to read. If it's early Americana then I want it.

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    "Another great book"
    Where does John Adams rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    There is a unique characteristic in McCullough books, in that they are loaded with information yet are never boring. I really wanted to hear McCullough's signature voice, but it was good nonetheless.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I enjoyed getting into the life of John Adams. Other books are great for an overview, but this book really dug into the life, thoughts, and actions of Adams.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Max 08-29-14
    Max 08-29-14 Member Since 2014
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    "boring"

    some authors can write history in a compelling and fascinating story, but this was more typical of the history I read in high school, with often quotations that did not add to the story and narratted in a likewise dull manner. timeline skips around from other characters in the period, which would normally add to the story but made me think "this sounds like the story I read on George Washington all over again". One would think early american history could be a facinating story but maybe it's just dull.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Florrie 08-28-14
    Florrie 08-28-14
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    "Masterful, full of imagery and depth"
    What did you love best about John Adams?

    There is a reason McCullough is described as a “master of the art of narrative history". Through his story telling and use of the letters written between John and Abigail Adams, I came to love these characters. It was a very exciting time in American history and one that comes to life through McCullough's penmanship and the outstanding narration by Nelson Runger.


    Which character – as performed by Nelson Runger – was your favorite?

    John and Abigail Adams - what profoundly good and thoughtful people they were. On the other hand I now have very different feelings for Jefferson because of the insights into his character and documented letters.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I laughed and cried as these characters took on a life that I felt I was a part of.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gotta Tellya Santa Rosa, CA 08-20-14
    Gotta Tellya Santa Rosa, CA 08-20-14 Member Since 2013

    KEC

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    "My favorite book about my favorite Founding Father"

    I could go on and on, but why not let the book speak for itself? It is the best bio I have ever read, and it's about one of the greatest (yet rather under-appreciated) early patriots of our country. Without John Adams, there might never have been a United States of America, and our country would certainly not have the balanced form of government we enjoy. The fact that ours is one of the few democracies to stand the test of time is due in large part to the ethics and efforts of John Adams. The narration by Nelson Runger is excellent. All in all, this is a stellar biography.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy Maffeo 06-09-14
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    "Best Surprise Book This Year!"
    Where does John Adams rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is one of the best books I've downloaded!


    Which character – as performed by Nelson Runger – was your favorite?

    Loved Nelson Runger's performance of John Adams.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    John Adams was only one of the presidents before I read this book, now he is a person I admire. What an amazing read!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marc BRANDON, MS, United States 05-05-14
    Marc BRANDON, MS, United States 05-05-14 Member Since 2014

    Sutherland Fan

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    "First Father of American Independence"
    What did you love best about John Adams?

    Tells the story of the most neglected founding father of the U.S.A. That Adams was a thinker whose ideas shaped the Constitution. That he was one of the first and most vehement in calling and FIGHTING for American independence from England. That he fought for his whole life for his ideas. That he lived out his old age in happiness and died a fine death. (I tire of biographies of men I admire whose final days are marked by misfortune, tragedy and loss).


    What was one of the most memorable moments of John Adams?

    When Adams secured the acknowledgement and formal recognition of the sovereignty of The United States of America as an Independent State by the Dutch Government.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    This is the main reason I'm writing this review. Perhaps this was suggested by the producer, but the reader has the incredibly annoying habit of taking long pauses between sections of the book. Presumably this is to "mark" the divisions, but it just made me wonder if my reader had failed.Another thing that is a particular pet peeve of mine (and might not even be noticed by others), is that I detest "mouth noises" when listening to an audio book. This includes, smacking, dry, pasty mouth sounds, breathing noises and the like. Surely these can be eliminated with judicious miking or filtering?


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The moment above brought me to tears. Also, the trials and death of Adams' daughter, Nabby.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tawny M. Cleveland Chico, CA, USA 04-03-14
    Tawny M. Cleveland Chico, CA, USA 04-03-14 Member Since 2014

    TMarie

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    "Spellbinding!"
    What made the experience of listening to John Adams the most enjoyable?

    I loved the richness of the narator's voice unfolding the story of our country's beginnings


    What was one of the most memorable moments of John Adams?

    The correspondence between John and Abigail was enlightening and heartwarming. Their letters are a big part of the unfolding of the personal thoughts during this time of John Adams.


    Which character – as performed by Nelson Runger – was your favorite?

    John Adams was my favorite.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roger PLANO, TX, United States 03-23-14
    Roger PLANO, TX, United States 03-23-14
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    "A little too much detail"
    Would you listen to John Adams again? Why?

    No. This is not a book to be listened to more than once, at least in a short period of time. It was a great account of John Adams life and times but not spellbinding.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I enjoyed the look into the life of great leaders in that period. I believe I now have a good picture of John Adams and his personality.


    What about Nelson Runger’s performance did you like?

    Very entertaining. Good rhythm and tone. Used different voices when quoting various characters.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. A little too detailed for extended listening.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Erin C. Halloran san diego 03-16-14
    Erin C. Halloran san diego 03-16-14 Member Since 2014

    please stop talking. i'm reading.

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    "great read, but tough listen"
    What did you love best about John Adams?

    Interesting, yet one-sided account of a great man. In the author's mind, John Adams was always right and honorable as opposed to Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Above all, I loved the correspondence between John and Abigail. I'm interested in reading more David McCullough due to his highly informative, yet never boring style of writing.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    I highly recommend this biography, but warn that the narrator almost ruined it for me. His voice is pleasant, but he takes long pauses, deep breaths and there are weird swallowing sounds - it's very distracting. Also, for some reason, he sounds like the guy from "Get Smart" when he is speaking as John Adams.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alexis DALLAS, TX, United States 01-11-14
    Alexis DALLAS, TX, United States 01-11-14 Member Since 2013
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    "A history piece worth all the hype!!"
    What made the experience of listening to John Adams the most enjoyable?

    You can feel the research McCullough used to put this story together. You get lost in time and stay entertained in relateable eloquence.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I could really feel like I understood John Adams and really enjoyed the honesty. The book uses Adams' correspondence and gives the feeling of hearing John's story in his own words. I watched the television series along with listening to this title, and as is typical, the book is better! (The series stayed pretty close to the book, though.)


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The death scene. What an epic event!!


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The correspondence between Adams and Jefferson in their twilight years makes me think of my love for my friends. I know that no matter what they do, I will always love them for who they are.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm planning on getting other McCullough books.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Kirstine
    Bonnyrigg, United Kingdom
    11/3/14
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    "A great life that kept me listening"

    Having enjoyed listening to Benjamin Franklin’s biography (by Walter Isaacson) I chose this book to get a different slant on the birth of America as an independent country. John Adams wasn’t as colourful a character as the polymath Franklin, but he probably had a greater influence on the creation of the USA as one of the key men in writing the Declaration of Independence and in formulating the Constitution. An example, like Franklin, of a man from humble beginnings achieving greatness through his intelligence, hard work and courage. Adams dedicated his life to his country, but one has also to give much praise to Abigail, his devoted wife, who endured long absences by Adams as he travelled in Europe negotiating with the British, French and Dutch governments to try and bring peace and prosperity to his country.

    While the book illustrates the epic history of the birth of a nation, it is enriched by the personal side of Adams’ life and his relationships with his family as well as with the famous people of his time. I’m often struck by the fact that the personalities and relationships among the main players quite often have a pivotal role in the direction of history. Much of the detail of these relationships is furnished by the copious amount of letters that have survived. I wonder will biographies of the future have this rich source of personal information with so much communication now being done by ephemeral e-mails and texts?

    On tends to learn history at school from the point of view of ones own country so it it's educational to hear about the American War of Independence from the other side.

    Though a long book the story is engaging and the narration excellent.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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