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)
For as long as the book is, it was done before I knew it. However, as the book came to a close, I felt such a strong bond to this great man. He seems to have seen himself as a ordinary man thrust into extraordinay circumstances, but in truth he was an extraordinary man. And his right hand was his incredble wife. And as I experienced their life through this book, I applauded their heroism and sacrifice, I raged as close friends betrayed them, and I cried as loved ones were lost. And in the end, I can't get over the fact that I would love to sit down with him to talk about life philosophies.
To not listen to or read this book is lessen life's experience and your own understanding of the United States and where we came from. Its insights will open you up to a much broader understanding of the political reality of our country.
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.
I loved this book! McCollough tells Adams' story as if he were there. Many times I was so transported back to the late 18th century I missed my exit! The performance on the audio is excellent, although I was a bit disappointed that, at times, you could hear the narrator breathing like he was a 900 operator. No dry memorization of facts here, rather you are sucked into the narrative as you are into a great novel. Not sure if Jeffersonians will be too pleased with the content of the book, but it has kindled an interest in investigating the other side of the argument.
What an excellent look at a truly remarkable period of history. As a Canadian, I have not been immersed in the history of the American Revolution. This novel brought it to life in a way that made the characters breathe and gave a humanity to people who are often cast as unflawed super-beings in movies and TV. Quite apart from the historical content, it was a true love story from beginning to end and it showed the influence that strong women had in shaping America as it is today.
I will be listening to this fascinating book again. Very well done indeed!
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.
Enjoyed this book very much and was delighted to get to know John Adams, his family and his life. At times it seemed like the politics of today but then, at other times, I felt transported back to the late 1700's and learned a great deal about life in those days. As always, I am happy to be living in this time but equally happy to learn so much about life long ago. Well written, keeps your attention throughout the entire book (for the most part) and wonderfully narrated.
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.
54 yrs, ,memb 12yrs,library -75%nonfic 10% fiction,15% classics. History, all sciences, bio, classics,diverse other interests.
There are just a few books that are so amazing to me that I dread trying to review them. This book was so rewarding for me( as you might gleam from my understated headline) that I really lack the verbiage and surly the subtlety ( lol) to do it justice.
The love story between Adams and his amazing wife is in itself more than enough for a great book..Adams personal and professional struggles and sacrifices for his warily conceived country is in itself more than enough for a great book. And his torturous friendship and correspondence with Jefferson is in itself more than enough for a great book, and naturally great books have been written on each of these areas, but here in this one book, they are all here together in one wondrously researched and written story.
John Adams was my first David McCullough book. I found his writing style so refreshingly clear, humanistic, scrupiosly researched and uniquely readable that I wasted no time purchasing all the rest of his works from Audible. While I enjoyed everything else he wrote,and have reread them all, The great bridge is a stand out that I would recommend be your next McCullough read, if you haven't read it already.
"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.
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