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John Adams: A Life

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  322 ratings  ·  15 reviews

John Ferling's masterful John Adams: A Life is the most comprehensive single-volume biography of the man who succeeded George Washington in the presidency and shepherded the fragile new nation through the most dangerous of times. Drawing on extensive research, Ferling depicts a reluctant revolutionary, a leader who was deeply troubled by the warfare that he helped to make,
Paperback, 560 pages
Published June 15th 1996 by Owl Books (first published 1992)
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Lisa (Harmonybites)
Sep 02, 2012 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone Interested in American HIstory
I started this biography of John Adams right after reading Flexner's biography of George Washington. I said in that review that no doubt reading a biography of a different American founder by another author would complicate the picture. Boy, did it ever!

This is a well-written, erudite biography, and in some ways it's stronger than Flexner's. I liked how Ferling, unlike Flexner in his one-volume work, constantly referred to other historians and biographers of the leading figures, airing the vario
Ferling's biography is fascinating and wonderfully written. I think he paints a more complete picture than David McCullough of both Adam's personality and his relationships with family, friends and associates.

After I finished McCullough's book I remember being particularly impressed with the level of Adam's education, the decades-long pivotal role he played in the founding of our country and the rich written record he left behind. As I read Ferling's biography I was interested in the similaritie

“John Adams: A Life” is the fifth of nearly a dozen books authored by John Ferling, who has written extensively on the revolutionary era and several of its most important figures. This biography was first published in 1992 and has received consistently high marks since, although its popularity has faded somewhat in recent years as several additional biographies of our second president have been published.

Ferling’s biography of John Adams is almost the perf
Eric Sevigny
This book started as a real sleeper after reading Chernow’s biography on Washington. Part of it was that the treatment of the revolutionary War was so much better in Chernow. However, the book picked up considerably with Adams’s experiences as a diplomat in Europe during and after the Revolutionary War. IN the end, a good read.
Aug 02, 2007 Tom rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historians
Shelves: biography
This Adams biography tends towards the personal side of President Adams. Casual readers might stay away but anyone with an interest in American History, Biographies, or Adams himself will enjoy it greatly.
Adams—like Hamilton and in contrast to Washington and Jefferson, who were more guarded both in deed and word—reminds us that our founding fathers were not the demigods they are sometimes made out to be, but simply men, albeit great men, thrust into a turning point in history. Like all men, they could be petty and they could be cruel.

Ferling’s academic background shows in a way I find quite wonderful. When he comes to some particular facet of the many-faceted man under his microscope, the interpr
The atrabilious Adams is on display throughout John Ferling's admiring yet sober biography. This is the enfant terrible of the Founding Fathers, a man dedicated to his principles and rambunctious in their defense.

Ferling nicely illuminates that critical juncture in American history: that post-honeymoon period when the regal majesty of Washington began to fade and the gritty task of defining the newborn republic's character was at hand. As it should be, much of the text is devoted to careful stud
This book left me feeling very humbled and emotional over what this founding father accomplished. I cried for John Adams just as I cried for George Washington after reading his biography. John Adams was a man who did not give up. He did not have the attitude that he had better things to do, but he kept on mulling over a political issue or speech or any other issue or concern because giving up was just not an option. He was dedicated. He was the work horse. Unfortunately he didn't receive the cre ...more
Really good. I learned a lot, but it's not as interesting as some of the other history I've read lately (Rubicon). Did however lead me to buy a Franklin book and a French Revolution book, based on the number of references.
This is the best Adams biography I've read, significantly better than the David McCullough book, and very readable for an academic work.
The author, at times, tended to be apologetic, for the person that Adams was, thus, lessening the objectivity of the book.
I am not a John Adams fan. This book, while well-written, did not do much to improve my opinion of John Adams.
Dave Sherman
Ferling wrote a tremondous biography. This book was the equivalent of a college course. Adams was a true patriot.
Did more than most people know.
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John E. Ferling is a professor emeritus of history at the University of West Georgia. A leading authority on American Revolutionary history, he is the author of several books, including "A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic", "Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence", and his most recent work, "The Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Politi ...more
More about John Ferling...
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