Book Review: John Adams by David McCullough

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I bought this book.

I set a goal to read, in order, all of the biographies of the presidents of the United States who have passed away.
Book Review John Adams by David McCullough


John Adams by David McCullough is a fabulous biography of the second President of these United States.  Mr. McCullough’s characterization of the president and his wife really shines through; their relationship – which is equal by today’s standards – is amazing and a reflection on their love, mutual respect and intelligence.

John Adams, an interesting figure, was a person with a high standard of integrity, a standard which drove him all his life.  The president’s relations with his contemporaries such as Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and especially Thomas Jefferson were intriguing and fascinating.

Among the pages there are excerpts from speeches, but I found his personal family letters most interesting.  Those letters let us glimpse into the genius mind of Adams.  In his letters Adams seems neurotic, worrisome and very opinionated – great material for a biography.  For example, Adams constantly worries about being forgotten by history, he frets that Benjamin Franklin’s “electrical rod smote the earth and out sprung General Washington. That Franklin electrified him with his rod and thence forward these two conducted all the policy, negotiation, legislation, and war“.

How can you not love this guy?

How can you not respect a guy who took a possibly career ending case only to prove that the legal system is just and fair?

He succeeded, and won the case, by defending the British soldiers accused of killing people in a riot organized by Sam Adams – known to us today as The Boston Massacre.  The book follows Adams to Europe, where he served as an envoy accompanied by his son John Quincy.  Their harrowing journey across dangerous waters, avoiding storms, fires and the British Navy is just as exciting as the diplomatic maneuvers through revolutionary Europe.

Upon his return, Adams become the first Vice President of the United States, “the most insignificant office ever known to man”, as he so eloquently stated.  Adams was awarded with the impossible and un-envious task of replacing George Washington as the nation’s second president.

This biography is meant to be savored, I could not rush though this magnificent book, nor did I want to, due to the dense information presented.  However, unlike textbooks, Mr. McCullough tells a fascinating story instead of throwing dates and facts in one’s face.

There are several reproductions of important documents, art work and illustrations included in this Pulitzer winning book.

This book is what reading history is all about.

My rating for John Adams – 5

Please leave a comment if you agree or disagree with my review, or just to say hello.
Zohar – Man of La Book


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