John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, a Private Life
John Quincy Adams was raised, educated, and groomed to be President, following in the footsteps of his father, John. At fourteen he was secretary to the Minister to Russia and, later, was himself Minister to the Netherlands and Prussia. He was U.S. Senator, Secretary of State, and then President for one ill-fated term. His private life showed a parallel descent. He was a p...more
Nagel's biography is the first biography based on JQA's diary. While this affords a unique perspective into his life and psyche, it seemed like an overkill at times. Just because JQA wrote details about what he ate and drank and the specifics of dinner conversations does not mean that it needs to be included in his biography.
Since it's based on JQA's diary, we see...more
Well-traveled from a young age and educated in European schools, Adams found it difficult to later...more
I think you can take this same view with American statesmen and the presidency. The American presidency is the highest office that any American can possibly...more
And miserable trying to live up to a domineering mother, a weight of family history and a scolding self-consci...more
Using JQA's diaries as his primary source, Nagel reveals the complexi...more
For instance, before he was elected the 6th president:
"John Quincy Adams' second four years as secretary of state were given only in part to chasing the presidency....more
Nagel relies on John Quincy Adams' personal journals, which leads to a deep understanding of the man, without the interpersonal filtering (or outright lying) that often happens with letters, which most of the previous presidential biographies I've read have been based on.
And Adams' led a fascinating life: living throughout Europe and Russia as a young man, a short and failed presidency, followed by a long and cantankerous career in the ho...more
This is a useful perspective, and a fairly easy one to work from, especially if you accept unquestioningly Nagel's assertion that Adams's domi...more
The book is written smoothly, and is therefore easy to read. But somehow it is not written inspiringly, and so I found myself turning the pages even faster than might have been called for, to try to get to the interesting bits.
JQA, as the biography calls him to distinguish him from his presidential parent, is...more
“John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, A Private Life” by Paul Nagel was published in 1997 and represents the first significant biography of JQA following Marie Hecht’s 1972 biography. Nagel’s biography was also the first to draw upon his complete (and voluminous) diary. Nagel, who died in 2011, was an author and historian, and spent time as a professor at the University of Georgia and University of Kentucky.
Nagel’s “John Quincy Adams” is unique among the thre...more
JQA's diary makes clear what a character he was. He was raised from early childhood by his parents as a...more
Like his father, the 2nd President John Adams, John Quincy Adams was a difficult person, and a person who liked to be surrounded in controversy, and was not afraid of forcing his opinion on others. This led to his developing many enemie...more
And the verdict? Yes. Cold, humourless, arrogant - all probably because of the fact...more
In any case, this is an excellent biography, aided, of course, by the existence of JQA's...more
Nagel shows Quincy just as the title notes, in his private role and his public role. Much like Chernow's text on Alexander Hamilton, Nagel is ob...more
Not for your average reader, though. It's pretty long and you really need to want to learn about JQA to make it all the way through.