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John Adams by David McCullough

John Adams (original 2001; edition 2002)

by David McCullough (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
10,054167413 (4.31)449
Title:John Adams
Authors:David McCullough (Author)
Info:Simon & Schuster (2002), Edition: 1st Touchstone, 752 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

John Adams by David McCullough (2001)

  1. 20
    Truman by David McCullough (readysetgo)
  2. 10
    Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (sergerca)
    sergerca: Similar scope and style as McCullough's about one of Adam's chief contemporaries.
  3. 10
    Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham (mattries37315)
  4. 10
    John Adams: Revolutionary Writings, 1775-1783 by John Adams (wildbill)
    wildbill: More of Adams own words in volume two of his Revolutionary Writings.
  5. 10
    Samuel Adams: A Life by Ira Stoll (morryb, readysetgo)
  6. 10
    John Adams: Revolutionary Writings, 1755-1775 by John Adams (wildbill)
    wildbill: Read Adams own words in this collection of his writings.
  7. 00
    John Adams and the American Revolution by Catherine Drinker Bowen (gordon361)

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» See also 449 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 164 (next | show all)
Though the T.V. mini series was intriguing, the book is far more so. The televised series really didn't give much focus to Adams' spiritual life and his intimacy with his wife. The way that the book ended, though pretty well represented through the series, was amazing. ( )
  impactwriter | Sep 5, 2018 |
Excerpts from my original GR review (Apr 2009):
- What more can be said of this brilliant work...? I believe the author first intended this as a book of Adams and Jefferson, but after he read the goldmine of touching correspondence between Adams and his wife Abigail, the "colossus of independence", as Jefferson called him, became the focus.
- Adams was, though consistently pro-independence and sometimes volatile, a relative moderate, and his sound judgement ultimately allowed this Great Experiment to begin. McCullough so clearly displays his grasp of the subject matter, yet keeps the story flowing and unfolding at a good clip. The letters between the Adams forms a glue to the story, and much of what was confided to each other is absolutely invaluable history (thank goodness most of it survives!).
- Other favorite themes to the book are the ever-evolving relationship between Adams and Jefferson, so that despite fierce political contention during their primes, they become dependable pen pals throughout retirement.; and, the fascinating intrigue involving foreign governments, esp. France, leading up to and beyond our founding.
- Read and enjoy, there is no better history than how "We the People" came to be. ( )
1 vote ThoughtPolice | Sep 4, 2018 |
This is such a huge book to review, I'm not sure where to start. I thought the research was good, with the exception of some of the Thomas Jefferson bits. I am not a fan of the Jefferson as self satisfied, aristocratic, spendthrift slave owner. I won't get into the economics of inheritance, etc. here, just had to say that that particular interpretation of Jefferson irks me.
I was impressed by both John and Abigail's willingness to sacrifice everything for their country. I had no idea that they spent so much time separated throughout the war and after. I had no idea Adams spent so much of the war in Europe. I really liked the excerpts from their letters and I plan to read My Dearest Friend sometime this year. Abigail was unique in her level of education combined with political understanding and her ability to advise her husband.
A few things that I found interesting: political intrigue was alive and well from the beginning and the media was just as irresponsible and partisan as the politicians. I was impressed by Adams and Jefferson, that they were able to reconcile later in life and enjoy a rich renewal of friendship through their correspondence.
I feel like I know a lot more about this hero of American Independence. I think his value was extremely understated throughout my years of formal education.


Abigail in 1777, while John is with the Congress in Philadelphia: "Posterity who are to reap the blessings will scarcely be able to conceive the hardships and sufferings of their ancestors."

"to be honest and grateful to our allies, but to think for ourselves."

arguing with Rousseau in the margins of a book: "There is no doubt that people are in the long run what the government make out of them...," Adams read in Rousseau. "The government ought to be what the people make it," he wrote in response.

To a granddaughter late in his life: "You are not singular in your suspicions that you know but little...the longer I live, the more I read, the more patiently I think, and the more anxiously I inquire, the less I seem to know...Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. This is enough... So questions and so answers your affectionate grandfather."

"Griefs upon griefs! Disappointments upon disappointments. What then? This is a gay merry world notwithstanding." ( )
  nittnut | Aug 30, 2018 |
This should be a must read for every high school junior/senior. McCullough's research on our country's beginnings, the Constitution, the lives of the Patriots, the hardships of a new country, etc. is just phenomenal. I read this book about 10-12 years ago, but I just recently listened to the audio unabridged version and I liked it even better than reading it. ( )
  travelgal | Jul 21, 2018 |
Very good condition. Cloth covers show minor wear at corners and edges as does the dust jacket. Some discoloration along edges of book. Book is embossed in a few places with former owner's name. Autographed by author.
  algrimshaw | Jun 19, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David McCulloughprimary authorall editionscalculated
Herrmann, EdwardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Runger, NelsonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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
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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,
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:09 -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)

(summary from another edition)

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