The Pulitzer Prize–winning, bestselling biography of America’s founding father and second president that was the basis for the acclaimed HBO series, brilliantly told by master historian David McCullough.
Lists It Appears On:
- Best Presidential Bios
- Library of Congress
- Presidents USA
- The Washington Post
A fresh look at this astute, likably quirky statesman, by the author of the Pulitzer Award-winning Founding Brothers and the National Book Award winning American Sphinx.
Lists It Appears On:
John Adams (October 30, 1735 ? July 4, 1826) was an American politician and the second President of the United States (1797?1801), after being the first Vice President (1789?1797) for two terms. He is regarded as one of the most influential Founding Fathers of the United States.
John Adams was an undiplomatic diplomat and an impolitic politician–a fierce revolutionary yet a detached and reluctant leader of the nation he helped to found. Few American public figures have ever been more devoted to doing the right thing, or more contemptuous of doing the merely popular thing. Yet his Yankee-bred fixation with ethical propriety and fiscal conservatism never stood in the way of his doing what was necessary. Adams hated debt, but as minister to the Netherlands during the Revolution, he was America’s premier junk-bond salesman. And though raised a traditional Massachusetts Congregationalist, Adams was instrumental in bringing about the consecration of the first American Episcopal bishops. He was a warm and magnanimous friend and, on occasion, a man who fully vindicated the famous judgment of a rival he detested. Adams, said Benjamin Franklin, “means well for his country, is always an honest man, often a wise one, but, sometimes, and in some things, is absolutely out of his senses.”
It was a contest of titans: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, two heroes of the Revolutionary era, once intimate friends, now icy antagonists locked in a fierce battle for the future of the United States. The election of 1800 was a thunderous clash of a campaign that climaxed in a deadlock in the Electoral College and led to a crisis in which the young republic teetered on the edge of collapse.
Drawing on over 1,200 letters exchanged between the couple, Ellis tells a story both personal and panoramic. We learn about the many years Abigail and John spent apart as John’s political career sent him first to Philadelphia, then to Paris and Amsterdam; their relationship with their children; and Abigail’s role as John’s closest and most valued advisor. Exquisitely researched and beautifully written, First Family is both a revealing portrait of a marriage and a unique study of America’s early years.
Until recently rescued by David McCullough, John Adams has always been overshadowed by Washington and Jefferson. Volatile, impulsive, irritable, and self-pitying, Adams seemed temperamentally unsuited for the presidency. Yet in many ways he was the perfect successor to Washington in terms of ability, experience, and popularity.
John Ferling has nearly forty years of experience as a historian of early America. The author of acclaimed histories such as A Leap into the Dark and Almost a Miracle, he has appeared on many TV and film documentaries on this pivotal period of our history. In John Adams: A Life, Ferling offers a compelling portrait of one of the giants of the Revolutionary era.
There has never been any doubt that the Adams family was America’s first family in our politics and memory. This research-based and insightful book is a multigenerational biography of that family from the founder father John through the mordant writer Brooks.
The Diary, partially published in the 1850’s, has proved a quarry of information on the rise of Revolutionary resistance in New England, the debates in the early Continental Congresses, and the diplomacy and financing of the American Revolution; but it has remained unfamiliar to the wider public. “It is an American classic,” Mr. Zoltán Haraszti said recently, about which Americans know next to nothing.” Actually the Diary’s historical value may well prove secondary to its literary and human interest. Now that it is presented in full, we have for the first time a proper basis for comprehending John Adams–an extraordinary human being, a master of robust, idiomatic language, a diarist in the great tradition. From none of the other founders of the Republic do we have anything like a record at once so copious and so intimate.
The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams by Lester J. Cappon
An intellectual dialogue of the highest plane achieved in America, the correspondence between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson spanned half a century and embraced government, philosophy, religion, quotidiana, and family griefs and joys. First meeting as delegates to the Continental Congress in 1775, they initiated correspondence in 1777, negotiated jointly as ministers in Europe in the 1780s, and served the early Republic–each, ultimately, in its highest office. At Jefferson’s defeat of Adams for the presidency in 1800, they became estranged, and the correspondence lapses from 1801 to 1812, then is renewed until the death of both in 1826, fifty years to the day after the Declaration of Independence.
The administration of John Adams was a period of rapid change, internal discord, and the continual threat of war. Few of the nation’s chief executives have been subjected to such immediate and ever-present danger of foreign involvement and national destruction, to such bitter animosities and serious cleavages within their administrations, or to such constant need for decision making as was John Adams. In the face of such adversity Adams successfully pursued a policy of neutrality and conciliation and, in so doing, provided time for the country to grow strong and to prosper. Yet, despite the seriousness of the country’s problems and the contributions of his administration, he is seldom designated as one of the great American presidents.