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Abigail Adams

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,213 Ratings  ·  190 Reviews
Abigail Adams offers a fresh perspective on the famous events of Adams's life, and along the way, Woody Holton, a renowned historian of the American Revolution, takes on numerous myths about the men and women of the founding era. But the book also demonstrates that domestic dramas---from unplanned pregnancies to untimely deaths---could be just as heartbreaking, significant ...more
Audiobook, 400 pages
Published by Tantor Media (first published 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,510)
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Jun 21, 2010 Kathryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
After reading David McCullough's biography of John Adams, I knew that knowing more about Abigail Adams was crucial to understanding our second president, so I chose the most recently published work on Abigail to continue my study. Holton did not disappoint.

I find it interesting that some readers adamantly claim that Abigail was not a feminist. I find her the most balanced form of feminism ever displayed. She is a wife and a mother; a business woman and investor. She unashamedly gives her opinio
May 01, 2014 Grumpus rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, audiobook
Fantastic book...especially if you've read/listened to John Adams. I listened to this from an download and have to comment once again on the remarkable and mellifluous voice of Cassandra Campbell. As soon as I noticed she was the reader I was in. For audiobook listeners, I highly recommend that you look for her.

Anyway, Abigail Adams. What an amazing woman she was. This book presents the other side of the the John Adams story. How she coped and ran the family during his extended absen
Sep 06, 2014 Kimberly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're looking for an in depth look into the life of America's second First Lady, then look no further. While Holton's writing style can be a bit difficult to navigate at times, the heart of the book remains Adams' own words. Holton utilizes Abigail's own words to validate the premise that she had been underestimated by many historians in the past. An adept businesswoman in her own right, Adams unabashedly touted women's rights in a time when women relinquished their rights to their husbands ...more
Aug 08, 2014 Caroline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As much an endlessly engrossing biography of Abigail Adams herself, this is also an insightful look at the lives of women in the Revolutionary era. With no political or legal standing in their own right many women chafed against the strictures of the era, and Abigail Adams was a classic, perhaps a defining, example of this. Her 'Remember the Ladies' letter to husband John is perhaps the best known example of her early campaigning for the rights of women, but it was by no means the only or the la ...more
Jun 25, 2010 Engranon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Biographer Woody Holton is definitely an Abigail Adams fan. This is a good thing, because if he were not a fan, he never would have waded through the Massachusetts Historical Society archives to prepare this book. He also did a very good job of bringing the second First Lady to life. Unfortunately, being a fan also means that some of his writing was very close to fawning over Mrs. Adams. I do understand this as I have long been an admirer of her myself. Still, the writing did drag at times and t ...more
Jun 01, 2010 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Abigial Adams was doctor, therapist, teacher, entrepreneur, politician, mother, and wife, in no particular order at any particular time. She was everything. She was nothing. And she knew it. And it made me a bit sad for one main reason: in this age of the crappily short emails, texts, whatever, I thought of the lost art of letter writing. I learned an immense amount of really interesting, meaty stuff about the revolution and the people in it, specifically the women and how this war profoundly af ...more
Mar 18, 2010 Martha rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Abigail Adams has always been one of my favorite founding mothers. However, her vibrant life became dull in the pages of this book. I had the book for 2 months from the library and had to finally just turn it back in without finishing it. I would like to try a different biography about Mrs. Adams. Any suggestions? I thought this was really dry reading and at times hard to follow. Lots of odd tangents, they were brought back to her life but some so insignificant that it made the flow of reading f ...more
***Dave Hill
Feb 15, 2011 ***Dave Hill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: text, audiobook
Woody Holton has written what will probably stand as one of the definitive accounts of Abigail Adams' life, drawing extensively from primary sources -- her correspondence with various people (especially her husband, John), as well as the writings of others who knew her.

If there's a weakness in the book, it's the surfeit of detail. There's little analysis that takes place, and one event rolls into another, the mundane alongside the profound. It's like watching a video of every moment in someone's
Mar 20, 2012 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: listening-to
Abigail Adams was a remarkable self-taught woman who lived at a time where women had no rights and certainly no voice. She was John Adams, the 2nd President of the United State's wife. Rather than try to temper her high spirits, her curious mind, her strong opinions and her willingness to share, John seems to have come to rely on Abigail. She was tremendously loyal, had a keen gift of finances and was very committed to family. However, the book also shared instances time and again on her stance ...more
Mar 24, 2010 Becky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, history
I have long been a fan of Abigail Adams so I was excited to read this new book and learn more about her. I was hoping for a McCullough's "John Adams" styled work but was somewhat disappointed. Holton is no McCullough (you can tell I really like the latter). This book is packed with facts and quotes from Abigail numerous letters to John and others, and emphasizes her wit, savvy and wisdom, but lacks, as I see it, a deeper look into her soul, into her passion, into her heart. Over and over again t ...more
Sep 24, 2012 Pat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read(or most often listened to) lots of books about the creation of America...John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, The Mayflower, 1776....this book is a great addition, telling about the same events from Abigail's perspective...and a very different one from what we get in most histories.
Based on the 1200 existing letters between Abigail and John, it allows us to see well known historical events in the context of a strong minded woman's view. Filled with deta
Sep 02, 2010 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I gave this four stars for content more than structure or excellent writing. It is remarkable how personal this book became while listening to it in the nation's capital. I have always been intrigued by the Adams family and their lives' intertwining with the birth and early history of our nation. Abigail herself is someone I think I would have really gotten on with, but what a meddler! She really stepped over the line a lot - particularly with John Quincy. He, however, seemed very quick to forgi ...more
Apr 19, 2010 Ashley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very thorough, and a nice complement to Lynne Withey's Dearest Friend, as well as David McCullough's John Adams. Holton draws heavily on Abigail's letters and delves very specifically into the lives of her extended family and children. One thing that got on my nerves, however, was his determination to jive Abigail's views on women, race, and other issues with today's views. Different times, different views, I say. I wish he hadn't gotten so hung up on trying to figure out her often contradictory ...more
Jun 12, 2014 Alisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well-researched look at Abigail Adams' long life, particularly through the dual lenses of her letters and the changing times in which she lived. She had her shortcomings, she had her loyalties, but she seemed consistent in loving her husband and their brood and extended family. She could be domineering and controlling, but also used her own sense of power to temper that to get her way. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
Jim Gallen
Mar 18, 2016 Jim Gallen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Abigail Adams” is a well-researched biography of the independent wife of the revolutionary, diplomat, vice-president, president and statesman, John Adams, as well as mother of their similarly successful son, John Quincy Adams.

Author Woody Holton portrays Abigail as an early feminist who ran the farm and raised the children while John was traveling the legal circuit, negotiating commercial and peace treaties and serving as vice-president and president. He presents her as an enterprising business
Jul 05, 2015 msdanconia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I very much enjoyed this biography of Abigail Adams. Holton makes a conscious effort to profile Adams with respect to herself and not just in relation to John. He begins by recounting an event near the end of Adams's life - in 1816, thinking she was about to die, Adams wrote her will. This was an act of rebellion against the laws of coverture which held that everything a wife "owned" actually belonged to her husband. This event sets the stage for understanding Adams, both as a young woman in her ...more
Jun 10, 2014 Roya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book, it is thought-provoking and Holton enabled me to understand early American history from a different perspective. I could not help comparing Abigail Adams and other women of her period with the role of women during WW 1 and WWII. I saw a similar pattern of women stepping into traditional men's roles and providing support during war time, and them being expected to revert to pre-war, "submissive" roles once the fighting was done.

I also see parallels with later generations of
I listened to this book (wonderful narrator). It is well researched and even handed, heavily supported by evidence, especially Abigail's letters.

It was a bit of a long haul to listen to and I was very ready for it to be over. I enjoyed being immersed in revolutionary era America, although it was scary at times (childbirth and small pox). Made me want to read a good novel set in this time period.
May 29, 2010 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
I've always wanted to read a great biography on Abigail Adams. This book had fabulous reviews. I felt that it could have been great, but it was bogged down by so many dates, it was annoying. Wish the flow would have been smooth. Instead the story was choppy as it continued to move two steps forward and then one step back. Having said all of that, I loved the subject and will continue to look for a great biography on Abigail Adams.
Sep 22, 2014 Sara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As shameful as it is to admit, I picked up this book with the question, "What's the big deal about Abigail Adams?" All I knew about was her "Remember the Ladies" letter which, having read it, wasn't that revolutionary (forgive the pun). The only thing she advocates for is the right to divorce a man who is abusive. Why is she considered an early feminist icon?

This book definitely answered my questions. She was a brilliant business person and she had a good mind for politics. She was a skilled wr
Feb 03, 2016 Megan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ugh this book is dry & dragging, if enlightning. So sorry for intelligent women who had to apologize and soften/couch their every viewpoint to appease the males, their masters, around them. What an absolute waste of brilliance. Don't know if I can stick it out, I'm on chapter 16 and there are 34 chapters in the book. So interesting to me that Abigail and John have been portrayed as great lovers in history with their love letters to each other. And yet, I'm sure his multi year absence was a b ...more
Stephanie Elieson
Mar 09, 2012 Stephanie Elieson rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I never actually finished this book. The author CLEARLY had an agenda when writing this completely biased interpretation of Abigail's letter correspondence. I could not come to enjoy or even put up with his writing style and delivery. In this case History truly is just HIS-story.
Tom Rowe
This book could have easily and more accurately been titled "Abigail Adams' Fight against Coverture" or "The Secret Financial Life of Abigail Adams." I came into this expecting to meet the charming delightful woman I met in David McCullough's "John Adams." Instead, I found a woman obsessed with having her own money and whose husband spends most of his time away from home not writing back. I think this was a book worth being written, but I don't think that it was what I was looking for. If you ar ...more
Jun 08, 2016 Amy rated it really liked it
I enjoyed listening to this biography of Abigail Adams. It showed her in complexity, i.e. an staunch believer and advocate for women's education and economic independence, while at the same time being politically and socially quite conservative. She was a strong woman and imposed her will on her family as much as she was able, especially at the end of her life. The biography was based on Adams' extensive correspondence so we learn what she thought about various events and issues, family, social ...more
Apr 22, 2012 G. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful, great read. I felt like I had actually met her and understood her.
Sep 30, 2015 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I definitely enjoyed this biography of Abigail Adams (one of my she-roes) better than one I had tried reading once before, "Dearest Friend". This one was written much better and captivated me more. Abigail led quite a life. I wasn't sure how much John would feature in this book; would the author make the claim that Abigail's life was just as interesting and worthy and keep John "on the side" or would the book ultimately be a John Adams biography? I was pleased to read about John, of course, but ...more
I have, arguably unfortunately, just begun reading McCullough's biography of John Adams and so this biography of Abigail cannot but pale a little in comparison, McCullough is just such an excellent story teller.

The bad: I sometimes felt overwhelmed by minutiae. Yes, a good deal of her own letters and writing are preserved, but this book sometimes felt like a retelling rather than a telling. I was also sometimes confused about which Adams exactly the author was referring to, there were simply too
Stephen Escalera
Much emphasis is rightly given to the founding fathers of America such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. But rarely do we get such a detailed glimpse into the homes and personal lives of these men as we do the Adams' in Woody Holton's biography of Abigail Adams. With riveting detail, Holton introduces us to the complex woman who helped shaped America more than perhaps any other of the "founding mothers" through her influence on her husband.

Strong-willed, intelligent and will
May 04, 2012 Rene rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I was inspired to read about Abigail Adams after a spring break trip to Philadelphia. I enjoyed learning about her life and would have liked to have met her. As for the book, fortunately, there were over 1200 letters written between Abigail and John Adams, so there was a wealth of information from which to learn about her life. I got a little bogged down in all the information about investments and skimmed those areas of the book. I was most fascinated by her role and comments and influence. on ...more
Clockstein Lockstein

Abigail Adams by Woody Holton is a timely and vital update to the well-known second First Lady of the United States. Abigail Adams has gained a place in history as the Dear Friend of her husband John Adams, as well as for her famed Remember the Ladies letter to him during the American Revolution. Previous biographies of her and her husband have treated her as a spunky but devoted wife of a Founding Father, but Holton brings completely new aspects of her to life in this well researched and enjoya
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