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The Pulitzer Prize–winning, bestselling biography of America’s founding father and second president that was the basis for the acclaimed HBO series, brilliantly told by master historian David McCullough.

In this powerful, epic biography, 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; who rose to become the second president of the United States and saved the country from blundering into an unnecessary war; who was learned beyond all but a few and regarded by some as “out of his senses”; and whose marriage to the wise and valiant Abigail Adams is one of the moving love stories in American history.

This is history on a grand scale—a book about politics and 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, John Adams is an enthralling, often surprising story of one of the most important and fascinating Americans who ever lived.

Topics: United States of America, Philadelphia, Paris, Informative, American History, American Revolution, Politics, Founding Fathers, American Government, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Leadership, Democracy, and American Foreign Policy

Published: Simon & Schuster on May 22, 2001
ISBN: 9780743218290
List price: $12.99
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Very readable and interesting biography of the nation's second president.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I'll admit - I was hesitant to read anything by David McCullough, but his being the most popular biography of John Adams and the most accessible to me, I chose to read it. I know he's popular, but I find it difficult for myself to read any book considered a history book when it has not been written by someone with an actual degree in history. McCullough instead has a degree in English. This obviously benefits him in that his book was written very well, but still, part of studying for a history degree is learning the proper way to go about research and how to represent history in a fair manner. I am not trying to insinuate that McCullough doesn't know what he's doing, that he doesn't know how to write history (he certainly does), but I cannot be sure how much of his book he took liberty with. How can he know for sure what some people were thinking? How many times a letter was drafted and thrown away before the final was produced? Though, I am sure overall that the historical accuracy of this book is spot on and general public need not be worried they're being mislead (not that any of them were concerned about that).McCullough portrays Adams as a successful man who was at times unappreciated by his colleagues for his efforts. At times I felt for Adams. I wanted to pat him on the back and say "Good job!" when no one else would. Though, by the end of his life he was recognized for what he did and appropriately lauded for it.I loved the section where McCullough details the writing and signing of the Declaration of Independence. Probably too many Americans believe it was written in a few days and then signed on the 4th of July in 1776. False. The Declaration was accepted on July 2nd but not signed until August 2nd and it was not signed all at once. The last signer of the Declaration of Independence did not do so until January 1777!Additionally, I enjoyed the quotes McCullough collected from letters between John Adams and his wife, Abigail. They were truly in love and were pained to be have to be apart so often and sometimes for very long durations. I find their relationships to be charming and certainly something you don't see too often these days.What struck me at the end of the book was rediscovering (because I'm sure I'd known this before at some point) that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day, the 4th of July. People at the time thought that was too much of a coincidence - surely it was God's way of acknowledging the United States as a great nation. Maybe they were right.It was a lengthy book to read and it took me a while to get through it. It was dry at times, but at other times it read well. Like I said, McCullough (despite me previous suspicions) knows what he's doing and does it well. I won't hesitate to read any more books by him.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I normally throw historical biographies into my reading list to prevent my brain from rotting due to modern fiction overload :). Needless to say it isn't my favorite genre, but this book was wonderful. The family of John Adams is one of the few in American history with such an amazingly extensive written record of diaries, letters (many thousands), and public articles. McCullough used these resources to create one of the most well-researched epics on John Adams that I've ever seen. Due to the nature of many of the letters, the reader is able to get a glimpse at not only Adams's public and political life, but his private thoughts and feelings as well. In addition to being an historic tome, this work is also a travelogue and touching love story. It is thought provoking, inspiring, and a grand look at a president often overshadowed, overlooked, and misunderstood. An especially interesting fact learned was that Adams and Jefferson both died on July 4, during the same year! This fascinating book is long, and the text is dense, so it takes some time to get through it, but it's well worth the energy spent.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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Very readable and interesting biography of the nation's second president.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I'll admit - I was hesitant to read anything by David McCullough, but his being the most popular biography of John Adams and the most accessible to me, I chose to read it. I know he's popular, but I find it difficult for myself to read any book considered a history book when it has not been written by someone with an actual degree in history. McCullough instead has a degree in English. This obviously benefits him in that his book was written very well, but still, part of studying for a history degree is learning the proper way to go about research and how to represent history in a fair manner. I am not trying to insinuate that McCullough doesn't know what he's doing, that he doesn't know how to write history (he certainly does), but I cannot be sure how much of his book he took liberty with. How can he know for sure what some people were thinking? How many times a letter was drafted and thrown away before the final was produced? Though, I am sure overall that the historical accuracy of this book is spot on and general public need not be worried they're being mislead (not that any of them were concerned about that).McCullough portrays Adams as a successful man who was at times unappreciated by his colleagues for his efforts. At times I felt for Adams. I wanted to pat him on the back and say "Good job!" when no one else would. Though, by the end of his life he was recognized for what he did and appropriately lauded for it.I loved the section where McCullough details the writing and signing of the Declaration of Independence. Probably too many Americans believe it was written in a few days and then signed on the 4th of July in 1776. False. The Declaration was accepted on July 2nd but not signed until August 2nd and it was not signed all at once. The last signer of the Declaration of Independence did not do so until January 1777!Additionally, I enjoyed the quotes McCullough collected from letters between John Adams and his wife, Abigail. They were truly in love and were pained to be have to be apart so often and sometimes for very long durations. I find their relationships to be charming and certainly something you don't see too often these days.What struck me at the end of the book was rediscovering (because I'm sure I'd known this before at some point) that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day, the 4th of July. People at the time thought that was too much of a coincidence - surely it was God's way of acknowledging the United States as a great nation. Maybe they were right.It was a lengthy book to read and it took me a while to get through it. It was dry at times, but at other times it read well. Like I said, McCullough (despite me previous suspicions) knows what he's doing and does it well. I won't hesitate to read any more books by him.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I normally throw historical biographies into my reading list to prevent my brain from rotting due to modern fiction overload :). Needless to say it isn't my favorite genre, but this book was wonderful. The family of John Adams is one of the few in American history with such an amazingly extensive written record of diaries, letters (many thousands), and public articles. McCullough used these resources to create one of the most well-researched epics on John Adams that I've ever seen. Due to the nature of many of the letters, the reader is able to get a glimpse at not only Adams's public and political life, but his private thoughts and feelings as well. In addition to being an historic tome, this work is also a travelogue and touching love story. It is thought provoking, inspiring, and a grand look at a president often overshadowed, overlooked, and misunderstood. An especially interesting fact learned was that Adams and Jefferson both died on July 4, during the same year! This fascinating book is long, and the text is dense, so it takes some time to get through it, but it's well worth the energy spent.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I enjoy history, and so I enjoy reading biographies, especially biographies of Christians. But all in all, I didn't care too much for McCullough's style. It seems that he included everything he ever learned about Adams, and the details were mind-numbing. I guess I just don't want to know that much about Adams; I confess I didn't even finish half the book.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
McCullough has put an unimaginable amount of work into this book. I'm not a big fan of nonfiction, but this book is very readable. I have to admit, though, that by the end I was pretty well exhausted from the hundreds of names, events, scandals, crises, victories. After reading 600 pages I felt like I had lived Adams' life myself. Still, it IS an impressive work of scholarship, and a great opportunity to learn about our nation's origins.
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I enjoyed the HBO film based on this book, although I got a little fed up with the strange way Giamatti delivered his lines after a while. The rest of the cast was marvelous, David Morse as Washington and Tom Wilkinson as Franklin in particular. I'm fascinated with this period -- so I expect I'll like the book even more than the miniseries.

Finished at last. I enjoyed this book greatly. It left me wondering why there is no Adams Memorial in our nation's capital.
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