Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

John Adams by David McCullough

John Adams (2001)

by David McCullough

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,301146377 (4.31)403

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 403 mentions

English (143)  Romanian (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (146)
Showing 1-5 of 143 (next | show all)
The abridged version does not offer much in the way of political insight. Instead, it reads like a novel about the ups-and-downs of some really quite remarkable guy who gets involved in politics during the American Revolution. He has friends and family and opinions, just like the character in a bildungsroman. This one is a historical figure as well, which gives the tale some kind of special interest because it is, in some sense, really true. The details about the way people lived are quite interesting as well, and for much the same reason. ( )
  themulhern | Feb 23, 2015 |
Beach reading for history geeks.

Despite not being a professional historian McCullough has a clear eye for historical detail and an almost unparalleled gift for narrative.

Like his other books, McCullough is often in danger of slipping into hagiography. That he empathises with Adams is clear throughout the book - glorifying his triumphs and downplaying (to some degree), his failures. He never quite slips across that line however, and is able to maintain credibility as a neutral observer.

Not a book in which the historian would find anything new or groundbreaking about Adams, nor is there any attempt to break new ground in the interpretation of events in which Adams was involved.

Nevertheless, McCullough is an excellent writer, Adams is a worthy subject and anyone with reading time to spare (like at the beach where I read this) will not find their time wasted. ( )
  mybucketlistofbooks | Jan 10, 2015 |
This biography of Adams reveals a spritely, attractive man, a classical scholar and, generally, a pretty wise leader.

His principal accomplishments were defending the British soldiers accused in the Boston Massacre; ambassador to France to arrange the cooperation that led to victory over the British at Yorktown; and arranging key loans from Holland. As President, he founded the navy as important to national defense.

The book itself is not much more than a summary of the Adams papers in the Massachusetts Historical Society. It contains little if any analysis or historical context. It is nice to get to know Adams the man, but a better biography would have also shown us Adams the historical figure.

(JAB) ( )
  nbmars | Aug 28, 2014 |
In my review of David McCullough's "Truman", I commented that Harry Truman was probably the only president of whom I would read a 1000+ page biography. This biography of John Adams is slightly less wordy at just over 700 pages. In addition, he was probably one of the "founding fathers" of whom I knew the least and was least interested.

One must be wary of the tendency of biographers to lionize their subjects. But McCullough has a very good reputation as an objective historian, and "Truman" was a warts and all biography. John Adams may have been the most important single figure of the American Revolution and formation of the country. He was the main drive for selecting George Washington to lead the military revolt against England, and for choosing Thomas Jefferson to compose the Declaration of Independence. He was chosen as our representative to France during the Revolution, when that country's support was desperately needed. During that time he worked with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, with whom he formed a deep and lifelong friendship. Adams later became our first ambassador of the new America to England, our first vice-president, and our second president.He was instrumental in developing the standing navy. Short, rotund and unprepossessing in appearance, he aroused strong loyalties and enmities, and was somewhat betrayed by Thomas Jefferson when running for his second term of president, a race which Jefferson instead won.

In many ways, Adams as portrayed here reminds me of Truman; they had similar qualities and beginnings, and both were fortunate to be married to strong and supportive women who made it possible for them to devote so much of their lives to their country. By comparison, Ben Franklin, Jefferson and particularly Alexander Hamilton do not fare so well. The first two are favorite historical figures of mine. I have lengthy biographies of both waiting to be read; I'll be interested to see if McCullough's interpretation of Franklin and Jefferson reads true in the hands of other biographers. I already knew it, but the death of both Adams and Jefferson on the same day, July 4, 1826, 50 years after the country declared its independence, was incredibly moving and was seen as an omen favorable to the future of the young America. ( )
1 vote burnit99 | Aug 6, 2014 |
This book underlined for me why it is important that I have begun this project to read at least one biography of each American President. Basically, I knew nothing of John Adams other than that he was our second president. If McCullough tells the tale correctly, Adams found politics and political parties to be anathemas. How refreshing! Yet how sobering, too, to think the infighting we behold today has been with our government nearly from the beginning of our nation.

Of the many factoids presented, I especially appreciated learning that it was The Netherlands which lent us money that kept our fledgling country afloat.

I have to laugh at Adams' description of Quakers: he found most of them to be as "dull as beetles." ( )
  kaulsu | Jul 9, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 143 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David McCulloughprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Herrmann, EdwardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Runger, NelsonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
We live, my dear soul, in an age of trial. What will be the consequence I know not. - John Adams to Abigail Adams, 1774
For our sons David, William, and Geoffrey
First words
In the cold, nearly colorless light of a New England winter, two men on horseback traveled the coast road below Boston, heading north.
I must judge for myself, but how can I judge, how can any man judge, unless his mind has been opened and enlarged by reading,
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 141657588X, Paperback)

Left to his own devices, John Adams might have lived out his days as a Massachusetts country lawyer, devoted to his family and friends. As it was, events swiftly overtook him, and Adams--who, David McCullough writes, was "not a man of the world" and not fond of politics--came to greatness as the second president of the United States, and one of the most distinguished of a generation of revolutionary leaders. He found reason to dislike sectarian wrangling even more in the aftermath of war, when Federalist and anti-Federalist factions vied bitterly for power, introducing scandal into an administration beset by other difficulties--including pirates on the high seas, conflict with France and England, and all the public controversy attendant in building a nation.

Overshadowed by the lustrous presidents Washington and Jefferson, who bracketed his tenure in office, Adams emerges from McCullough's brilliant biography as a truly heroic figure--not only for his significant role in the American Revolution but also for maintaining his personal integrity in its strife-filled aftermath. McCullough spends much of his narrative examining the troubled friendship between Adams and Jefferson, who had in common a love for books and ideas but differed on almost every other imaginable point. Reading his pages, it is easy to imagine the two as alter egos. (Strangely, both died on the same day, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.) But McCullough also considers Adams in his own light, and the portrait that emerges is altogether fascinating. --Gregory McNamee

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:17:52 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

In this powerful, epic biography, David McCullough unfolds the adventurous life-journey of John Adams, the brilliant, fiercely independent, often irascible, always honest Yankee patriot who spared nothing in his zeal for the American Revolution; who rose to become the second President of the United States and saved the country from blundering into an unnecessary war; who was learned beyond all but a few and regarded by some as "out of his senses"; and whose marriage to the wise and valiant Abigail Adams is one of the moving love stories in American history. This is history on a grand scale -- a book about politics and war and social issues, but also about human nature, love, religious faith, virtue, ambition, friendship, and betrayal, and the far-reaching consequences of noble ideas. Above all, John Adams is an enthralling, often surprising story of one of the most important and fascinating Americans who ever lived.… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
25 avail.
328 wanted
2 pay14 pay

Popular covers


Average: (4.31)
1 9
2 28
2.5 7
3 159
3.5 48
4 540
4.5 93
5 733


5 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 95,754,929 books! | Top bar: Always visible