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Abigail Adams: A Biography

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  180 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Wife of one president and mother of another, Abigail Adams was an extraordinary woman living at an extraordinary time in American history. A tireless letter writer and diarist, her penetrating and often caustic impressions of most of the major persons of her day--including Ben Franklin, George and Martha Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and King George III ...more
Paperback, 592 pages
Published November 5th 2001 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1987)
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I found this book interesting, but it took many months to read. I liked the description and the details of history weaved into a pleasing narrative. But, it is a very traditional biography and chapters such as "Circumstances and connections respectable" and "Faithful are the Wounds" are not very spicy.

Still, Mrs. Adams is worth knowing. She was married to a president and mother to a president. She calls B.S. on the Virginian founding fathers for supporting slavery. She is a rigid new Englander
Worth buying—if you want a model of how not to write a biography. Dull and superficial, it's little more a five hundred page long summary of Adams' letters, managing to provide absolutely no insights into her personality, or the historical and social forces at work in the world around her. There's little interpretation at all; there were plenty of openings which I could see in the quoted sources for gender/race commentary, but Levin passes them all by with seeming complete obliviousness. Whoever ...more
If this book is anything, it is (as far as I know) complete. This book, however, isn't just about Abigail Adams; it tells the stories of many of the Adams family, occasionally not mentioning Abigail for pages.

One thing I found helpful was that this book provided enough context about the American history of the time that with a basic knowledge of it, I was able to understand everything that was going on. Unfortunately, the same was not true for international history; with minimal context, I was o
I heart Abigail. This was an awesome, historically comprehensive, personally tender account. I saw in her life many aspects I can easily relate to, such as her struggle for balance in the personal and public, motherhood and other roles. What a great biography of a founding mother who helped birth our nation. As a bonus, I became better acquainted with a broad cast of her associates: Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Mercy Otis Warren, to name a few. At some point Abigail was on the outs w ...more
Written in a letter format. I couldn't stick with it. Too irritating. I had to put it down.
It's good that I read this book after The Wordy Shipmates. This book takes place about 100 years later, and the shipmates are still wordy. Some of the biography was interesting, but much of it was concerned with Abigail's reaction to the political machinations of the day (not what I'm interested in). Once upon a time, in one of my classes, I chose Abigail as one of the three people I'd like with me if stranded on a desert isle. After reading the book, I don't think so. She was definitely an admi ...more
While all in all, this is an excellent biography, it might have been better to say it was a whole family tale instead of focusing on one individual member of the family. While the main part of the story is Abigail's, there are tangents where Levin takes off describing John -- which I admit is pretty par for the course, if you're writing about Abigail -- but also John Quincy and his wife Louisa. The research is in depth and well written, but if you're searching for a book that is mainly Abigail's ...more
"Remember the ladies!" Abigail Adams should be the star of the John and Abigail twosome. While John was in creating our early republic, Abigail was at home, overseeing the crops, teaching all of her children both Latin and Greek, and nursed every back to health when disease landed at her doorstep regularly.

What is most interesting is that after awhile, she got so sick of being home alone, that she was willing to take a difficult passage over the Atlantic to Europe to live with John in France. S
I really like historical biography as a general rule but this one left me very disappointed. While Levin clearly has done her research, she wasn't up to getting the most out of it. Abigail Adams is one of the most interesting women in our history, but I really found myself often bored. The story skipped around and was repetitive. There are certainly better books if you want to learn of this amazing lady's life.
The book is well-written but never interested me much. At times, it was a day-by-day narrative of the domestic concerns of the Adams household. Long excerpts from letters to/from friends and relatives fill the pages. Most of those letters sounded little different from the ones I've found digging through old family desks and drawers. Some people will love it. I couldn't finish it.
Okay, I'm only adding this to my list of books because it made such a great impact on me. I read it while pregnant in 1989. I was so impressed with Abigail Adams, a woman WAY ahead of her time, that I named my daughter, Abigail, after Abigail Adams. What a phenominal woman! When I grow up, I want to be as pro-active, smart, and as extraordinary as Abigail Adams was.
Ms. Levin is thorough in her research but lacks the interesting tidbits I like to read in the footnotes. Adams character remains distant despite or because of the details.
One funny to tell on myself: the first time I attempted to read this book was right after watching HBO' s series Adams. I had to put the book away until I ceased hearing Laura Linney's voice as Abigail.
Jenn Shell
Living in that time period, people in general; women in particular had to be strong in mind, body and spirit. Abigail Adams fit that bill. It is a good book but anticipate lessons in history along the way. Without a deep interest in history, boredom tends to sneak up on the reader. Abigail certainly helped the growth of women, as well as, that of our unique country.
I loved the excerpts from Abigail's letters to family and friends. I thought the author occasionally lost focus on Abigail and focused more on her husband, but since they were so involved and attached to each other I don't think it was a flaw in the story. Overall, I think this book is a good overview of Abigail's interesting life.
Ms. Levin has done an excellent job in her research. The problem is that after reading David McCullogh's book "John Adams," Ms. Levin just does not develop her material into as interesting a format as Mr. McCullogh achieved. Her book reads more like a history lesson rather than a life story.
Kathryn Leonard
Let me be clear I am not normally a huge fan of historical biographies.I do not ordinarily go out and browse these types of books.But once I had read the first chapter I was hooked.My grandfather bought this book for me awhile ago and I'm eternally grateful to him for doing that.
Abigail Adams is a great example of an early woman in charge. She never accepted the place of a woman as simply being mother, wife and homemaker. Abigail Adams was a leader who had the ears of the political leaders of her time and exercised wisdom and influence upon those around her.
Nov 28, 2007 Graceann rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Biography Fans
Shelves: biography
Please see my review at Grace's Abigail Adams Review

Please click that my review was helpful at Amazon so that my rating continues to climb!
I've actually read this book twice but the second time didn't make it any more understandable. Sometimes the book gets to bogged down with trying to get the sense of Adams' words that it makes it confusing and with a lack of flow.
a brave woman way ahead of her times. She was one strong, smart lady. It was a joy to read a story of the woman behind the president for that day and age. The issues she faced and endured, that made her stronger.
I thought that it was an ok book. I really didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would have because it was a slow book and kind of boring. I thought Abigal Adams was a brave and noble girl.
Lisa Kasper
I loved reading about one of the Founding Mothers of our Country. The style of writing is a bit...Colonial. That took some getting used to, but otherwise a good read.
I just loved this book on Abigail Adams and her family. It was a great historical window in to there lives and the hardship they had back then.
What a woman! Lived with, and without, her difficult husband. She had stamina, courage, and a fine mind.
I loved learning more about one of the very influential women in our nation's history.
Sandie V.
A very forward thinking woman. Impressed by her and enjoyed the book
I enjoyed this. If you like biographies, this is a good one
This book made Abigail Adams become my heroine.
What a woman!!
Sharon Jones
Sharon Jones marked it as to-read
Apr 16, 2015
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biography 1 4 Feb 12, 2009 02:52PM  
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