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David McCullogh's biography of John Adams is an outstanding book about an outstanding man. This is one of the finest biographies I have read or listened to. By the end of the book I felt like I knew John Adams - both his outstanding strengths and his human frailties. I came away with a far better appreciation for Adams and his role in the birth of America than I had previously. The book also provides fascinating glimpses into the other strong personalities of the time, including Hamilton, Franklin and Washington, but most especially Jefferson. It is written beautifully and is so enjoyable to listen to that I was a bit sad when it ended. I strongly recommend this great work.
168 of 173 people found this review helpful
This is the rare history narrative doesn't rely on those dry-as-dust facts that were droned into our adolescent brains to ensure we never discovered the magic of history. This book is fascinating and informative.
There was no sense that McCullough took undue license as a historian in portraying the people of the time; every characterization was fleshed out with an amazing array of letters, love-notes, journals, documents and receipts.
I listened to the unabridged version but I would have enjoyed it more if it were even longer. In the end, I've untangled the screwy chronology I've had in my head regarding America's break from England and have a new admiration for the patriots of the time.
Whether a reader prefers fiction (for the love of a good story) or history this book will more than satisfy. Also, it was very well read.
52 of 55 people found this review helpful
Having enjoyed listening to Benjamin Franklin’s biography (by Walter Isaacson) I chose this book to get a different slant on the birth of America as an independent country. John Adams wasn’t as colourful a character as the polymath Franklin, but he probably had a greater influence on the creation of the USA as one of the key men in writing the Declaration of Independence and in formulating the Constitution. An example, like Franklin, of a man from humble beginnings achieving greatness through his intelligence, hard work and courage. Adams dedicated his life to his country, but one has also to give much praise to Abigail, his devoted wife, who endured long absences by Adams as he travelled in Europe negotiating with the British, French and Dutch governments to try and bring peace and prosperity to his country.
While the book illustrates the epic history of the birth of a nation, it is enriched by the personal side of Adams’ life and his relationships with his family as well as with the famous people of his time. I’m often struck by the fact that the personalities and relationships among the main players quite often have a pivotal role in the direction of history. Much of the detail of these relationships is furnished by the copious amount of letters that have survived. I wonder will biographies of the future have this rich source of personal information with so much communication now being done by ephemeral e-mails and texts?
On tends to learn history at school from the point of view of ones own country so it it's educational to hear about the American War of Independence from the other side.
Though a long book the story is engaging and the narration excellent.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful
What made the experience of listening to John Adams the most enjoyable?
Nelson Runger has a really pleasing rustic voice. Good for colonial American history.
What did you like best about this story?
John Adams. What a great person to write a readable story about. He's unbelievably prolific in his writing and straight-forwardly opinionated on every topic.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
John and Tom's Magical English Garden Tour '86