Pulitzer Prize, Biography/Autobiography, 2002In 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.
"Brilliant...a winner." (Publishers Weekly)
"McCullough writes to be heard as well as read." (AudioFile)
Listening to American history from David McCullough's perspective is like hearing it from ones grandfather or trusted friend. I often find myself sitting in my car in the garage for long periods of time - after I have arrived home, not wanting to "put the book down". As far as I am concerned DM is the finest American historian of our age! Fair and without agenda this is the way it is supposed to be written.
I have not read the written version of this book and thus cannot compare it with the audio version. However, the audio version allowed me to paint two rooms while enjoying a great book.
A book this size needs to be consumed in pieces.
History can best be understood through biographies of great men. This audio was an enjoyable look into the life of one of this countries founding fathers.
Yes, the historical nuisances, subtle undertones, and interactions of our founding fathers were incredibly presented from a collection of diaries, letters, news articles, and of course the documents of the Constitutional Congress. Note: little to no minutes of early meetings were kept by congress.
As a historical book I am sure there are many that would compare (Trex - T. Roosevelt comes to mind) but when you realize how the information for this book was assembled and presented I no of none that compare.
First listen of this narrator. Key word: Narrator. Did not attmept a performance with multiple voices but rather an excellent reading with tone and inflection. Once or twice he varied the voice for a specific character but it was not necessary.
Adam's writing back to his wife after they voted on the Declaration of Independence exclaiming how this day will be celebrated forever with great pageantry and celebration. Yes July 2nd will be forever remembered. Turns out he was off by two days and the day John Hancock signed (July 4th) was the one remembered. (Spoiler: All the rest signed in August).
Also the death of Adams and Jefferson on July 4th's 50th anniversary
Some interesting backroom election "fixing" as well. One good point by Adams. Do no pay congress and President, they should be able to save a bit for a few years of service and than return to their occupation. I guess he saw the danger of the career politican.
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.
Narrative makes the world go round.
While I know my Canadian and British 18th century history, before I listened to this, my knowledge of the U.S. in that period came from pop culture and sixth grade. This broadened my understanding and interested me in downloading more McCullough and U.S. history. Any book that invites nonAmericans to do so is good for the world!
Although long for nonfiction, the listen compares very favourably to a novel. However, I think McCullough strikes a balance between documentation and narrative that is easy on the ears but still seems to present sound history. The book draws on much more than the charming correspondance between the Adams' mentioned in the publisher's blurb. My head spins when I think of how McCullough combined sources to come up with this portrait.
I did not mind the narrator as did some other listeners -- He did sound a bit corny, but he read with enthusiasm for and appreciation of his material.
If your memory of American History is like mine, Adams sort of gets sandwiched in between Washington and Jefferson. David McCullough sets out to change all that in this sweeping biography of the great and humble leader. After gaining an understanding through this book of how important Adams was to the success of the great American experiment in democracy, I felt that he should be carved on Rushmore right up there with the other founding fathers.
This was a great biography. I've studied a lot about the Revolutionary War, and I still learned a great deal from this book. I think it is far betther than 1776. I highly reccomend it.
I enjoyed getting to know John Adams as a man, failings and all. It brought home that our nation was started by people, not icons. Anyone who has spent any time working in politics or in a large corporation can relate to the power struggles, manoeuvers and alliances the founding fathers faced as personalities and agendas struggled for dominance. It made our nation's often glamorized beginnings seem more real and increased my admiration for what was achieved.
"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.
Nelson Runger has a really pleasing rustic voice. Good for colonial American history.
John Adams. What a great person to write a readable story about. He's unbelievably prolific in his writing and straight-forwardly opinionated on every topic.
John and Tom's Magical English Garden Tour '86
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