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Publisher's Summary

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 Simon & Schuster, Inc., All Rights Reserved; AUDIOWORKS Is an Imprint of Simon & Schuster Audio Division, Simon & Schuster Inc.

Critic Reviews

  • Audie Award Winner, Non-Fiction (abridged), 2002
  • Pulitzer Prize Winner, Biography or Autobiography, 2002

"The portrait that emerges is altogether fascinating." (Amazon.com)
"Brilliant...a winner." (Publishers Weekly)
"McCullough writes to be heard as well as read." (AudioFile)

What members say

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  • Overall
  • Nancy
  • Denver, CO, USA
  • 01-24-05

Review of John Adams by David McCullough

I listened to this audiobook twice -- once to find out what happened, and the second time to digest it more fully and pay attention to the names and dates when they flew by. It's a wonderful introduction to the characters who founded our nation. I'm in awe of John Adams and how much he helped create a marvelous system of government. His honesty, devotion to the public spirit, love of reading, joy in his family and lifelong dedication to creating a more perfect union are an inspiration. His ongoing relationship and correspondence with Thomas Jefferson is remarkable. This is a marvelous book, written in the cadence of the time.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

John Adams

Long, but fantastic read. I learned so much about American history that they never taught in school. It is also amazing how little has changed on the political landscape in over 200 years.

I really enjoyed the way the author used correspondance to bring the individuals and their circumstances to light.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Claire
  • Chicago, IL, USA
  • 09-27-04

Changed My Life

I had heard this was a good book and had hesitated to spend 2 book credits for it. I listened to it and felt as if I had found a new soul mate in John Adams... My husband listened to this book and was so inspired by a man like John Adams going for his dream that he started to pursue his dream of becoming a lawyer and is now in law school. What does this have to do with the book? Everything, this book inspires you to reach the height of humanity and to stretch yourself... I can't give a book a higher compliment, further this was an interesting read not merely an intellectual investment. The reader does so well you forget about him and become absorbed by the content.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Sean
  • Newport Beach, CA, USA
  • 01-23-04

Great book, great man - maybe not such a great guy

I usually go for unabridged versions, so when I chose this I must have either overlooked the unabridged edition or it hadn?t been released yet. It hardly seems fair to the author to review an abridgement that is only one-third as long as the complete text. It?s like reading the Reader?s Digest version! In any case, I thought the book was great: informative, enjoyable, and with the right mix of macroscopic and microscopic detail.

In some reviews I have read (mostly on other web sites), McCullough is criticized for being too forgiving of Adams? personal and political faults. I disagree. In fact, my overriding impression of Adams after reading this book was that I probably would not have liked him at all had I known him personally. For someone who esteemed humility in others, he was outwardly very arrogant. And despite his frequent claims to desire the simple life, he seemed continually determined to attain high office and personal glory, even at the expense of familial relationships. He often claimed to be unconcerned with how history would remember him, but I can?t help but feel that many of his letters to Jefferson and even family members were tinted with attempts to reshape his reputation for posterity. One response from Jefferson in the book suggests that even T.J. suspected Adams? motives for wanting to rehash old battles in his letters.

To be fair, I do believe that Adams sincerely changed for the better once he was out of office and out of the limelight, and that he was finally able to enjoy the company of friends and family above power and prestige. I also gained new respect for the key role that he played in building the new nation.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Dave
  • Surprise, AZ, USA
  • 12-17-03

Great Book.

I saw a review that said there was too much info on John Adams. I disagree I wish the book had gone on longer.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Don
  • Gallatin, TN, USA
  • 06-24-03

Excellent

A wonderful review of a man and his time when written language was grand and articulate and not the product of EMAIL or CHAT ROOMS.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Brad
  • Ramona, CA, USA
  • 05-13-03

John Adams

Absolutely fasinating. David McCullough creates the environment of this man's life is such a way as to make me believe I was there.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Fascinating!

This book is fascinating. If my high school history courses had been this absorbing I wouldn't be so ignorant of history today. McCullough is adept at drawing out the details that interest me rather than getting bogged down in dates and facts.

The book is a great review of early American history with some new insights provided by Adams on old characters, especially Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. The letters between Jefferson and Adams in their later years are particularly interesting, as well as the amazing relationship between John and Abigail.

The reader's voice is great. I'm glad my wife has a copy of the book so I can fill in the gaps left out of this abridgement (although the flow of the audiobook doesn't suffer because of it).

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Terrific

I realy enjoy this period of our history and I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I even had to go to Quincy, Ma just to see his house and see where he lived, worked and wrote many letters and perfomed many of his duties. I was even more amazed at what an incredible woman Abigail Adams was, I would like to see David McCullough write a book about her.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Noel
  • Bangor, PA, USA
  • 03-05-03

The True Father of our Country

I have never been so moved or so humbled by a man and his words. Let us not forget behind every strong man of character is a truely strong woman of conviction. This country owes a debt of which we will never pay back to John Adams and Abigail. This book is outstanding and a pleasure. If only John Adams had written many books himself. I am forever your servant sir.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful