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Samuel Adams: A Life by Ira Stoll

Samuel Adams: A Life

by Ira Stoll

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Thomas Jefferson called Samuel Adams “truly the man of the Revolution.” Adams, filled with religious fervor, inspired others to fight on and overcome the challenges of the Revolutionary War. He was the editor of the influential Boston Gazette, planner of the Boston Tea Party, and signer of the Declaration of Independence, and yet, he is largely ignored and unknown today. Understanding the leading part Adams played in building and sustaining support for the revolutionary cause gives readers new insight into the way religion motivated the founding of America. ( )
  nittnut | Aug 30, 2018 |
I would give this book 2.5 stars if possible. The book was what I would call a very general overview of the the life of Sam Adams. I enjoyed parts of it, especially the latter parts of the book that covered Adams' life in the Continental Congress and his role in the Legislature and Executive branches of the Massachusetts Government.

My problems with this book were a few:

1. The author references too many other historians when making historical points. It felt like more of a research paper at times than the writings of an historian making his own judgements and reflections.

2. There were too many quotes. I enjoy a narrative history with quotes mixed in, but there were far too many quotes from Adams about his religious views for example.

3. It was too short. There were many places, especially the post Revolutionary War period, where we learn about what is going on in history with little of Adams' role or thoughts on the matter. The author admits toward the end of the book that there is very little writing of Adams compared to the other founders, but I still expected more from this book considering how much has been written on this period. ( )
  msaucier818 | Apr 9, 2018 |
When you read a biography like this you just want to shake the subject of the book and ask them why in God's name they destroyed their letters and writings. This would have been a fantastic book if we could have understood the mind of Adams in his relationship to his wife and children which is missing from here, and his personal relationships with other revolutionaries.
BUT that doesn't negate the effect of the book that is there. The author did a masterful job of giving us the patriot that we never knew. Adams was the man that started the revolution and designed the government of this country and of his home state of Massachusetts. He was so highly thought of by his contemporaries that he was elected or appointed to nearly every committee for every important movement including the Boston Tea Party, the Constitution, the Massachusetts Constitution and the Bill of Rights. He was everywhere, representing the people he knew and we are the better for it. He pushed other people to move on the ideas he had and was so reviled by King George that he and John Hancock were the only two with a bounty on their heads. And yet he didn't quit.
I am thrilled that I read this book because he would have been unknown in my life and I would have been poorer for not having known him. ( )
  book58lover | Aug 1, 2016 |
This was an examination or telling of the life of Samuel Adams and why we should remember him. I have to admit I have a bias towards this revolutionary figure as I did several research projects/papers on his life and legacy. I picked this book up with wide eyes, drooling a bit and read it with great interest. I often wondered why he was mentioned as often as John Adams or other Founding Brothers/Fathers. This book does a great job of humanizing this individual....he was not perfect, he was not always tolerant of other ideas and his personal life was not all unicorns and rainbows. Perhaps I have an attachment to this figure because I have discovered that unlike his peers sitting atop pedestals and pictured on currency, he was an imperfect human and I can relate to that. ( )
  lolhscybrarian | Dec 2, 2014 |
Very dry to read...otherwise it was not a pleasant experience...the last chapter was the only one I enjoyed... ( )
  Gigi.Gimenez | Sep 27, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Unfortunately, readers looking for a companion to David McCullough's magisterial life of John Adams will come away disappointed by this intermittently interesting, yet ultimately frustrating book
Mr. Stoll makes a convincing case that Samuel Adams is not just the most underrated of the Founders but also one of the most admirable, down-to-earth and principled (he worked to abolish slavery).
...Samuel Adams: A Life is a fascinating journey into American culture at its birth - and into the life of the man who was critical to its founding.
added by readysetgo | editBookPage, Howard Shirley (Nov 1, 2008)
This account might sustain a renewed interest in Adams as the founder of a distinctly American spirit.
added by readysetgo | editPublishers Weekly (Sep 8, 2008)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743299116, Hardcover)

"I pity Mr. Sam Adams," his cousin John Adams wrote to his wife, "for he was born a Rebel." At virtually every juncture of the American Revolution, from the Boston Massacre and Tea Party to Lexington and Concord and the ratification of the Constitution, Samuel Adams played a forceful role. With his fiery rhetoric and religious fervor, he was in many respects the moral conscience of the new nation. "The love of liberty," he thundered, "is interwoven in the soul of man, and can never be totally extinguished."And yet history has neglected him; today Samuel Adams is best known as a brand of beer. As relations with Great Britain healed in the nineteenth century, historians were all too willing to dismiss him as a zealot; Adams's distrust of secularism (he envisioned America as a "Christian Sparta") has not endeared him to many contemporary scholars, either. Ira Stoll's fascinating biography not only restores this figure to his rightful place in history but portrays him as a man of God whose skepticism of a powerful central government, uncompromising support for freedom of the press, concern about the influence of money on elections, voluble love of liberty, and selfless endurance in a war for freedom has enormous relevance to Americans today.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:07 -0400)

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With eloquence equal to Jefferson and Tom Paine, Adams helped ignite the flame of liberty and made sure it glowed even during the Revolution's darkest hours. He was, as Jefferson later observed, "truly the man of the Revolution." Adams played a pivotal role not fully appreciated until now in the events leading up to the confrontation with the British. Believing that God willed a free American nation, he was among the first to call for independence. He saw the opportunity to stir things up after the Boston Massacre and helped plan and instigate the Boston Tea Party. A fiery newspaper editor, he railed ceaselessly against "taxation without representation" and argued the urgency of revolution. When the top British general in America offered a general amnesty in 1775 to all who would lay down their arms, he excepted only John Hancock and Samuel Adams: these two were destined for the gallows.--From publisher description.… (more)

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