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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