Susan's Reviews > John Adams

John Adams by David McCullough
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Mar 22, 08

In addition to exploring the life and career of John Adams, McCullough has encompassed the full tapestry of people, places, and events surrounding Adams from boyhood on. One of two prominent threads that lend a fascinating dynamic to this portrait was his marriage to Abigail Smith. Abigail was a remarkable woman, a steadying hand and the love of his life. Their union was passionate, spiritual and intellectual, and it was their constant correspondence during Adams's absences that provided a wealth of insight for McCullough to draw from. Abigail was clearly his sounding board and reliable advisor, rarely shy at expressing her opinions on issues like slavery and independence. In one of her early letters, she even expressed what would eventually become a revolutionary idea on it's own --- women's suffrage. "If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation." A playful taunt perhaps, but also reflective of her uncompromising values.

By far the strongest thread, however, becomes the characterization of the lifelong relationship between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Despite their common intellectual ground and mutual desire to create a stable new government, the two would eventually become bitter rivals over political ideology. The various factions that formed over the constitutional issues and later incited party divisions constantly rocked the unsteady new republic and would reach their peak during Adams's presidency. As Adams leaned farther and farther toward Federalism, Jefferson distanced himself and eventually became Adams's bitter opponent in the presidential election.

Although he wasn't a particularly commanding presence in politics, McCullough notes that Adams was actually quite successful as President during very troubled times. While McCullough is thorough and fair in his assessment of Adams's weaknesses, he is equally honest, occasionally scathing, in his depiction of Jefferson. In fact, with no disrespect for the monumental tasks with which they were faced, his finely honed perspective of our founding fathers steps away from their larger-than-life images and makes them very human and accessible. Lavish and abundant in documentation, readers will be delighted with the fascinating, colorful narrative in JOHN ADAMS; and David McCullough may very well find himself on the well-deserved short list for a second Pulitzer Prize

Being very fond of this particular time in history, I loved reading about John Adams, and his beloved, Abigail, without whom I am convinced he would have been less than successful. This is a book that made me so appreciate and respect even more those men and women, their sacrifices, their courage, and drive that laid foundation for our great country. This is a must read for anyone who loves America, loves those who stood true and fast as they established a government that stands today and has been patterned after for many other governments. Loved it!
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