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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 (2412 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Davis San Pedro, CA, United States 07-10-06
    Davis San Pedro, CA, United States 07-10-06 Member Since 2011
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    "An outstanding biography"

    David McCullogh's biography of John Adams is an outstanding book about an outstanding man. This is one of the finest biographies I have read or listened to. By the end of the book I felt like I knew John Adams - both his outstanding strengths and his human frailties. I came away with a far better appreciation for Adams and his role in the birth of America than I had previously. The book also provides fascinating glimpses into the other strong personalities of the time, including Hamilton, Franklin and Washington, but most especially Jefferson. It is written beautifully and is so enjoyable to listen to that I was a bit sad when it ended. I strongly recommend this great work.

    148 of 152 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sara 05-29-08
    Sara 05-29-08

    USA, listener since 2005

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A delightful experience"

    I completely enjoyed all aspects of this audio book. The narrator was engaging and his voice was pleasant to listen to for the many hours required. The writing style drew me in and I became enthralled with each small detail revealed about the lives of John and Abigail and the early American and European life depicted. I have gone on to read several books of Abigail's letters with great pleasure. This was an excellent, life affirming, and positive experience. Thank you Audible!

    31 of 32 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cora Judd 06-18-08
    Cora Judd 06-18-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Better than fiction...."

    This is the rare history narrative doesn't rely on those dry-as-dust facts that were droned into our adolescent brains to ensure we never discovered the magic of history. This book is fascinating and informative.

    There was no sense that McCullough took undue license as a historian in portraying the people of the time; every characterization was fleshed out with an amazing array of letters, love-notes, journals, documents and receipts.

    I listened to the unabridged version but I would have enjoyed it more if it were even longer. In the end, I've untangled the screwy chronology I've had in my head regarding America's break from England and have a new admiration for the patriots of the time.

    Whether a reader prefers fiction (for the love of a good story) or history this book will more than satisfy. Also, it was very well read.

    33 of 35 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Teaticket, MA, USA 03-20-08
    Christopher Teaticket, MA, USA 03-20-08 Member Since 2014
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    "Expectations on a Theme"

    The author has carved out his niche as an historical biographer of great skill, so it is reasonable to come to expect much from him; he does not fail to deliver in this book. Having said that, this book should be judged as a journey into the soul of the subject and not an adventure or a novel - it is not and was not intended to be an edge-of-the-seat experience.

    The narrator does an excellent job of portraying the various characters with just enough inflection to make the transitions comfortable and while there may be some exposure of his breathing in the reading it is not irritating. It is obvious that the narrator was "in" to the story, and we can always appreciate that!

    The book itself offers the listener an intimate perspective of the Adams in a way that you certainly will not find in a text book or in the standard biography. That John Adams was one of the individuals to place their hands upon history and influence the world is beyond question, and this book offers us the opportunity to drink deeply of the character of the man, giving a clear and unobstructed view of his motives.

    In an era in which the actions of the founding fathers are often called into question or are intentionally recast with less than faithful attention to the facts it is all the more important to have works like this to set the record straight. McCullough has no axe to grind, and has held himself to the unusually high standards he adopted for his previous works.

    If you are seeking knowledge and wish to understand an important man and important events from the past, this book is one you will regret not experiencing. If you are seeking to be constantly entertained and to have plot and subplot move in fluid motion, perhaps you will find Patrick O'Brian's historical fiction more to your liking.

    I found the book to be engaging, easy to follow, and pleasant to listen to in small or large chunks, and I believe you will too. It earned the five stars it received from me.

    54 of 58 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B.J. Minneapolis, MN, United States 04-03-08
    B.J. Minneapolis, MN, United States 04-03-08 Member Since 2010

    I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "John and Abigail lived at my house"

    While I was listening to this book, John Adams and his family came to live with me. I was so absorbed in the history, I thought about it even when I wasn't listening. I am impressed with McCullough's skill at bringing history to life. It's a fascinating time with relevance to today. The time and thought put into the Constitution should never be taken for granted. Also, the knowledge of these people and their efforts to continually educate themselves and engage their intellectual lives is beyond anything we see today. While this will appeal to history buffs, I highly recommend it for anyone interested in people's lives and an in depth view of the minds of brilliant people.

    22 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judd Bagley Utah 07-18-09
    Judd Bagley Utah 07-18-09 Member Since 2015

    Max Fisher of Rushmore Academy

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    "David McCollough is the Herodotus of our time"

    I'd never found John Adams to be a very interesting figure, and bought this book purely on the strength of McCollough's '1776'.

    I had no idea how deeply engrossing the story of John Adams' life would be, nor how adeptly McCollough would manage to tell it. This is a shockingly thorough work of tested, evidence-based history, objectively presented.

    I can't say enough to recommend this book to anybody interested in understanding the multi-dimensional political and diplomatic drama running in parallel to the military drama of the American Revolution, as well as the often awkward foundations of our two party system; all told through the life of an unusually likable and relateable man (as well as his remarkable wife and son).

    14 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Conklin, NY, United States 07-19-09
    John Conklin, NY, United States 07-19-09 Member Since 2014
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    "Awesome!! No one does it better!"

    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.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert L. Brandon Walnut Grove, MO United States 03-11-13
    Robert L. Brandon Walnut Grove, MO United States 03-11-13 Member Since 2013
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    "great book, distracting narrator"

    The book is a wonderfully written, interesting portrait of an American founder. The narrator speaks well and pleasantly. However, his long pauses to apparently take a drink of water accompanied by the sound of swallowing is disgusting and extremely distracting. I wonder why it was not somehow edited out!I have listened to 9 hours so far but I am not sure if I can continue to listen to all 30 hours if it continues...

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Curtis 02-21-10
    Curtis 02-21-10 Member Since 2015
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    "Entertaining--Keeps Your Attention"

    This was a very good audio book that kept my attention for the entire 30+ hours. I thought the narrator was good and did not notice any of the complaints that were addressed in the other reviews. I read 1776 by McCullough and this was just as good or better. This is definately worth the two credits.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tom Newark, NJ, United States 11-23-08
    Tom Newark, NJ, United States 11-23-08 Member Since 2010
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    "Under-appreciated Hero of the American Revolution"

    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.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
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  • Kirstine
    Bonnyrigg, United Kingdom
    11/3/14
    Overall
    Performance
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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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