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Editorial Reviews

Ira Stoll places Samuel Adams, the "forgotten Founding Father," in historical context, delving into how his Puritan sensibilities informed his vision of independence. Paul Boehmer competently handles the task of narrating extended passages of Adams's writings in the slightly foreign-sounding English of the Colonial period, although his attempts to give a British accent to British quotes detract from the overall delivery. With its overabundance of repetitive text, listening to this work is often tediously reminiscent of a college history course, but the importance of this "apostle of liberty" and his influence on our national psyche make this chapter of American history vital to understanding how the past informs our present and our view of ourselves as God's new "chosen people."

Publisher's Summary

"I pity Mr. Sam Adams," his cousin John Adams wrote to his wife, "for he was born a Rebel." At virtually every juncture of the American Revolution, from the Boston Massacre and Tea Party to Lexington and Concord and the ratification of the Constitution, Samuel Adams played a forceful role. With his fiery rhetoric and religious fervor, he was in many respects the moral conscience of the new nation. "The love of liberty," he thundered, "is interwoven in the soul of man, and can never be totally extinguished."

And yet history has neglected him; today Samuel Adams is best known as a brand of beer. As relations with Great Britain healed in the 19th century, historians were all too willing to dismiss him as a zealot; Adams's distrust of secularism (he envisioned America as a "Christian Sparta") has not endeared him to many contemporary scholars, either. Ira Stoll's fascinating biography not only restores this figure to his rightful place in history but portrays him as a man of God whose skepticism of a powerful central government, uncompromising support for freedom of the press, concern about the influence of money on elections, voluble love of liberty, and selfless endurance in a war for freedom has enormous relevance to Americans today.

©2008 Ira Stoll (P)2008 Tantor

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Not just a biography. Must-read American History!

I listened to this book at the suggestion of a friend, and I was very impressed! I had no idea how much I did not know about Samuel Adams. I discovered a lot of new details I didn't know surrounding many historical events in American history, like Paul Revere's ride and the creation of the U.S. Constitution. I thought Chapters 6 and 7 were worth the price of the book all by themselves! Even if you don't think you are interested in this founding father, if you are interested in American History, you need to listen to this book.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 02-03-15

Rabble Rousing man of the Common People

Samuel Adams (1722-1803) was one of the founding fathers that historians have not written much about. I recently read “Lion of Liberty: Patrick Henry and the Call to a New Nation” by Harlow Giles Unger as part of my attempt to read about the lesser known founding fathers.

Stoll’s book provides basic information but unfortunately is not an in-depth biography. Adams’s father sold beer malt and also was christened Samuel. Before hostilities began Adams the younger was a fiery journalist writing under a variety of pen names. He made invaluable contributions to the revolution. Samuel Adams and John Hancock were hiding from the British in Lexington and heard the first shot of the revolution. Samuel Adams was John Adams cousin. John Adams was the second president of the United States.

Before and after the revolution Adams devoted much of his life to public service, as a reprehensive to Continental congresses, a state legislator, lieutenant governor and the governor of Massachusetts. He also helped create the Massachusetts constitution.
Stoll quotes frequently from Adam’s published articles and correspondence. Adams likes to compare American’s revolutionaries with the biblical Israelites. The author argues that Adams’s religious belief fueled his revolutionary zeal. Adams apparently believed that religion should be the heart of American life.

I found the book a good general overview of Samuel Adams life but the book was just too short to cover anything other than a basic overview. If your are interested in the early history of the United States this is a book for you. Paul Boehmer narrated the book.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Christine
  • Moncks Corner, SC, United States
  • 08-06-10

Fact filled book

An educated view of the man and I felt a lot of information shoved in this long
audio book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Best Revolutionary war book yet

So many details that have not been taught but have been overlooked. I highly recommend reading this amazing book!!!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

informative and well read<br />

Not a lot is known about this great man. glad i got to listen about the man who basically made the united states of america happen

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Samuel Adams: The root of liberty and independence

Samuel Adams: A Life, was a book that answers many questions of who was the root of independence. Adams clearly defined and gave clarity to liberty and its derivation from the bible. So many of the founding fathers seemed cool to religion while it was apparent that Adams built his foundation upon the rock of God's word. He was a man of faith to the word of God and he believed America's birth and the idea of a republic of the people and for the people was divine.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating

Amazing story of a very religious patriot and integral founding father. The writing was not as riveting as other biographies, but was a great story!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Average to good

Where does Samuel Adams rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Very informative, but i had a hard to staying with it, kind of dry. I usually listen to these as I sleep, this one, was average.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Piety with no grit.

What disappointed you about Samuel Adams?


Overly pious capsule of a firebrand of the Revolution. Very little meat on the sanctified bones of a true patriot.Very nearly dehumanizes him.

What do you think your next listen will be?

Andrew Jackson biography.

What didn’t you like about Paul Boehmer’s performance?

Reminded me of a boring Sunday School teacher.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Samuel Adams?

The long letter passages which also suffered from the performance.

Any additional comments?

Sam was a great man of his time. He was obviously a man of faith but knew how to make our Revolution by unholy means. There is not enough of the rascal in this book to round out the picture of one of the two men in the colonies the bloody king wanted to hang above all others.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • David
  • gillsville, GA, United States
  • 10-14-10

Disappointing

Ira Stoll's Sam Adams is lifeless. I was looking for a vibrant life story, but instead heard about sermons, letters or newspaper clippings of one thing or another. Sam Adams is one of my childhood heroes and this book didn't do him justice. I set the audio aside after listening to the first half of the book.

1 of 5 people found this review helpful