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1. John Adams
2. State of the Union Address
3. First Family: Abigail and John
4. My Dearest Friend: Letters of
5. The Letters of John and Abigail
6. John Adams: A Life
7. Orations
8. The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The
9. Passionate Sage: The Character
10. John Quincy Adams (American Profiles
11. John Quincy Adams (The American
12. John Adams Speaks for Freedom
13. The John Adams Reader: Essential
14. A Force for Nature: The Story
15. The Portable John Adams (Penguin
16. Winter Music: Composing the North
17. Memoir of the Life of John Quincy
19. The Political Writings of John
20. Risk

1. John Adams
by David McCullough
Paperback: 768 Pages (2008-01-29)
list price: US$20.00 -- used & new: US$8.25
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 141657588X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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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 most 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.Amazon.com Review
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, whobracketed his tenure in office, Adams emerges from McCullough'sbrilliant biography as a truly heroic figure--not only for hissignificant role in the American Revolution but also for maintaininghis personal integrity in its strife-filled aftermath. McCulloughspends much of his narrative examining the troubled friendship betweenAdams and Jefferson, who had in common a love for books and ideas butdiffered on almost every other imaginable point. Reading his pages, itis easy to imagine the two as alter egos. (Strangely, both died on thesame day, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.)But McCullough also considers Adams in his own light, and the portraitthat emerges is altogether fascinating. --Gregory McNamee ... Read more

Customer Reviews (886)

5-0 out of 5 stars Meet His Rotundity, the Mad Monarchist and Warmonger
`Politics are a labyrinth without a clue'. That's what John Adams wrote during a Congress session in 1775, before the Declaration of Independence was written. At that time, he said, only about a third of the delegates were `true blue' Americans. Even during the following decades, the `founding fathers' were not exactly of one mind. The poison spread at the election in 1800 when Adams ran for re-election against his VP Jefferson was on par with what we get served today.

One of the boulders on my Mount Readmore finally got moved out of the way. This book has been standing on my shelf for years, winking at me quietly. There are others that have been calling out longer.
I have recently become a semi-Bostonian myself and furthermore, I have started a major reading expedition paddling down Henry James River. Both changes made me think that I really needed to attend to Mr. Adams in the McCullough version, finally. I knew that I would enjoy it, and I did. Have I learned much? Let me see.

I have learned that almost every street and building and bridge and river in and around Boston is called after somebody who was somehow related to Adams. Even my daughter's classmate is not just from Braintree, but from the place where Adams came from (before Quincy was spun off).
I learned that Adams was not happy with Paine's Common Sense, though that book gave a vital impulse to independence. Adams thought it was too destructive without building. He was even less happy with Rights of Man, after the French Revolution had taken off, and that started rather a feud with his pal Jefferson, who turned out to be quite on the other side of the brand new party divide.

I learned that Adams defended the shooters of the Boston Massacre in court. The man had guts. I learned that he wrote the Massachusetts Constitution, which is said to be the oldest functioning written constitution in the world, practically single-handedly. (He was a solid balance of power advocate, based on Ciceronic wisdom.)
I learned that he was a natural as a parliamentarian, but that success as a diplomat came hard. As a VP he was like a fish on dry land. As a president he lived in splendid misery.
Despite his often alleged vanity, the man lived in modesty and was practically a pauper during most of his years in service, for all his merits and sacrifice.

I learned that the level of personal enmity and spite between some of the grandees was considerable. Jefferson was a different case, much friendship mixed in with the rivalry and the backstabbing, until open antagonism and rivalry broke out, which was to be drowned in decades of correspondence later.
I learned that the practice of sticking exaggerated political labels on opponents is as old as the US: Adams was a Monarchist and a warmonger like others are called Communist or Fascist or Muslim.
Republicans and Federalists of the party divide at the time were at each other's throats just as much as current parties and teabags.

McCullough's books are of a kind that is rare in Germany, a good example of what one might call popular historiography. I owe a considerable part of my picture of the US to some of them, like his Great Bridge and his Truman biography. Possibly the Adams book gave me less news, as I had read plenty of other stuff about the period, but it is certainly worth the trouble.
If I want to look for downsides, I find them in the fact that the book must remain superficial in most of its subjects: even with 650 pages, it can just skim the surface of most problems of the man's life if it wants to tell us the bare facts of it.
Adams is painted as a solid, honest, unobjectionable pillar of the political class of his time. Not in every respect a very interesting man. Not enough flaws. Not enough big mistakes, at least not in this view (well, apart from a shameful Alien and Sedition Act; and a bad temper). Most things that he got accused of he was rather innocent of. On the other hand, Hamilton and Jefferson are the villains of the piece. Adams maneuvered himself between the camps and lost his re-election.

Maybe the portrait is a little too uncritical? To some people, Adams' `manifest integrity' seems to have been `unsettling'.
Jefferson wrote about him that Adams was not good at understanding people's motivations. That is of course a serious flaw not only in a diplomat, but also in a president. And in a football coach and in about half the professions that I can think of.
`Thanks to God that he gave me stubbornness when I know I am right.' (That would also have been a good title for my review.)

My conclusion (until further notice, i.e. until somebody convinces me otherwise): an honest, capable man who did his best in nearly impossible circumstances. He should be more appreciated, e.g. by granting him a 25 or 200 Dollar bill, to pull even with his nemesis Hamilton.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hard to Top This One
A couple of years ago I read McCullough's Truman and was very impressed.So, while I had high hopes for his biography of John Adams, I was skeptical that its quality would match that of his Truman masterpiece.

Indeed John Adams did not match Truman.It exceeded Truman!

Some seem to believe that a good biographer must view his subject as equal parts good and bad, that if the author is too kind to the subject then the biography has little merit.I totally dissagree with this notion for the reason that there have been truly great men and women in our history for whom the positives of their character and achievements far outweigh the negatives.When this is the case, it should be adequately represented in the biography.

In the case of John Adams McCullough clearly finds much more to admire about Mr. Adams than to despise.His shine is bright and his warts few and small.McCullough is correct to accurately reflect the high quality of the character and achievements of John Adams, one of our truly brilliant founding fathers.

Adams and his wife Abigail (who was also clearly very intelligent and highly influential to her husband) were both prolific writers of letters, and McCullough draws heavily from this primary source.Quotes from their correspondance adds much texture and context to the historical background and trajectory of Mr. Adams's career.

But, where the book really shines is, surprisingly, in the final two chapters.Until then, it was a good, but not great book.The quality of the last two chapters made it an exceptional book.Adams as the old man, reconciled with his old friend Jefferson, reconciled to his past frustrations and grievances, and reconciled to his own mortality, is where I found the true greatness of this man as expertlly conveyed by the author.The author's treatment of the near simultaneous passing of Adams and Jefferson astonishingly on July 4th, 1826, exactly 50 years after the Declaration of Independence, was incredible and it brought the story of the two "fathers" of the Declaration full circle to one final, unbelievable conclusion.

I've embarked on a project to read a biography of every president in order through Reagan.Two down and 38 more to go.I doubt any of the remaining 38 will top this one.

2-0 out of 5 stars Why John Adams is cooler than Thomas Jefferson
This should be the subtitle because it seems the author spends as much time criticizing Jefferson as he does praising Adams.His criticism is offered without substantiation and is obviously based on opinion.

5-0 out of 5 stars Awesome on a number of levels.
McCullough has done more than simply written a brilliant biography about a great American and mensch, he has brought him to life, literarily if not literally.

As well as many of those around him, such as Abigail Adams, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington et al.

And the American Revolution.

5-0 out of 5 stars A superb biography of an American hero
This is one of the very best books I have read in the past decade.When I opened it, John Adams was a cipher to me: just a name ("one of the Founding Fathers"). By the time I finished it, John Adams almost felt like an old friend.A truly American hero, clearly cast in the American mold: a hard-working, thrifty, devout, and utterly incorruptible New England Yankee, who loved working his farm almost as much as he enjoyed reading the classics, and giving this country a giant assist in becoming independent.

As an added bonus, you get an entire picture of the American Revolution --- from Adams' point of view, naturally, but he saw almost everything and knew everybody.Additional fascinating portraits include: Ben Franklin as an old man, the celebrated pet of Parisian society; Thomas Jefferson (I began thinking of him as "Lord Jefferson," with his 200 slaves taking care of his every need from cradle to grave); George Washington (of course), and, shining through clearly, his beloved wife Abigail.Many minor portraits also fascinate: Alexander Hamilton, John Quincy Adams (his brilliant son), Louis XVI of France, and George III of England.Even Marie Antoinette makes a stellar appearance.

Over time, this book almost approaches being a dual biography, of Adams and Jefferson, two totally different men: Adams thrifty and Jefferson spendthrift; Adams dying with money in the bank and Jefferson dying in deep debt.These two became fast friends in France, and then Jefferson turned them into political enemies by undermining Adams while serving as Adams' Vice-President.

In a surprise turn of events, the friendship resumed many years later, when all of the political strife was so much water under the bridge.In one of history's most amazing coincidences, both men died on the same exact day: July 4th, 1826 --- the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

Adams enjoyed his retirement, after his spell in the White House.He lived to see his son elected President, and as he aged, his thoughts grew deeper and deeper.The world became more and more miraculous to him.One diary entry reads:

"I never delighted much in contemplating commas and colons, or in spelling or measuring syllables, but now...if I attempt to look at these little objects, I find my imagination, in spite of all my exertions, roaming in the Milky Way, among the nebulae, those mighty orbs, and stupendous orbits of suns, planets, satellites, and comets, which compose the incomprehensible universe; and if I do not sink into nothing in my own estimation, I feel an irresistible impulse to fall on my knees, in adoration of the power that moves, the wisdom that directs, and the benevolence that sanctifies this wonderful whole."

This sounds very close to a theophany, perhaps the last thing one would have expected in a biography of an industrious, common-sense farmer and lawyer.

"Take him for all in all, we shall not see his like again."

A truly wonderful book. ... Read more

2. State of the Union Address
by John Quincy Adams
Paperback: 62 Pages (2006-11-03)
list price: US$9.95 -- used & new: US$9.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1406934305
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Records of a great orator. ... Read more

3. First Family: Abigail and John Adams
by Joseph J. Ellis
Hardcover: 320 Pages (2010-10-26)
list price: US$27.95 -- used & new: US$13.98
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Asin: 0307269620
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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The Pulitzer Prize–winning, best-selling author of Founding Brothers and His Excellency brings America’s preeminent first couple to life in a moving and illuminating narrative that sweeps through the American Revolution and the republic’s tenuous early years.
John and Abigail Adams left an indelible and remarkably preserved portrait of their lives together in their personal correspondence: both Adamses were prolific letter writers (although John conceded that Abigail was clearly the more gifted of the two), and over the years they exchanged more than twelve hundred letters. Joseph J. Ellis distills this unprecedented and unsurpassed record to give us an account both intimate and panoramic; part biography, part political history, and part love story.

Ellis describes the first meeting between the two as inauspicious—John was twenty-four, Abigail just fifteen, and each was entirely unimpressed with the other. But they soon began a passionate correspondence that resulted in their marriage five years later.

Over the next decades, the couple were separated nearly as much as they were together. John’s political career took him first to Philadelphia, where he became the boldest advocate for the measures that would lead to the Declaration of Independence. Yet in order to attend the Second Continental Congress, he left his wife and children in the middle of the war zone that had by then engulfed Massachusetts. Later he was sent to Paris, where he served as a minister to the court of France alongside Benjamin Franklin. These years apart stressed the Adamses’ union almost beyond what it could bear: Abigail grew lonely, while the Adams children suffered from their father’s absence.

John was elected the nation’s first vice president, but by the time of his reelection, Abigail’s health prevented her from joining him in Philadelphia, the interim capital. She no doubt had further reservations about moving to the swamp on the Potomac when John became president, although this time he persuaded her. President Adams inherited a weak and bitterly divided country from George Washington. The political situation was perilous at best, and he needed his closest advisor by his side: “I can do nothing,” John told Abigail after his election, “without you.”

In Ellis’s rich and striking new history, John and Abigail’s relationship unfolds in the context of America’s birth as a nation. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating story of John and Abigail
Joseph Ellis continues his string of successes with another great book on the American Revolution.This book looks at the relationship between John and Abigail Adams shedding new light on how the preeminent political team and first dynasty in America shared their intimate thoughts with one another.Utilizing letters between the two, (of which we have many due to the volume of time they spent apart) as well as sources from their children, Ellis is able to paint a vibrant picture of life in early America and explore how these patriots contributed towards their cause.From the shrewd political mind of Abigail to the limitless ambitions of John's vanity we see how two people shaped the course of the United States.This book also provides a look at John Quincy Adams as the heir apparent and one who was groomed for greatness. Little has been written in depth on JQA particularly his childhood so this was a very interesting account. Overall another wonderful book and one that sheds new light on how this family operated in American history.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another Winner...
...from Joseph J. Ellis, who already has to his credit several excellent books of American history - including one that won a Pulitzer Prize - about the men who guided the American Revolution and the founding of the United States.In "First Family," he turns his attention to the 12-hundred or so letters that make up the decades-long "conversation . . . of unexpected intimacy and candor" between Abigail and John Adams that is "more revealing than any other correspondence between a prominent American husband and wife in American history."

After first encountering the letters some years ago, Ellis resolved one day to "read all their letters and tell the full story of their conversation within the context of America's creation as a people and a nation."He has now done so brilliantly, bringing these two intelligent people to life before us.He does not do this in isolation.He covers the historical context of the times with gratifying clarity.His writing is superb, carrying the reader along effortlessly to the point of making it difficult to put the book down.

I cannot recommend "First Family" too highly to anyone who has a scintilla of interest in the people who launched the United States.

5-0 out of 5 stars A first-rate biography of a great partnership
This is an informative and well-crafted book that is the best presentation and analysis that I have come across of a partnership that is both inspiring in itself and the best-documented in history. It has some limitations but if you are interested in the social rather than political elements of the early Republic, this is a book I highly recommend. Here are the standout features:
1. It offers a convincing and rich portrayal of the long partnership between the brilliant, morally brave, totally honest and equally quite weird - perhaps even mentally disturbed - John Adams and his stable, supportive but independent wife Abigail. It is very unlikely that Adams could have held to his steadfast course without a true equal, with all his insecurities, feelings of being unappreciated, his ability to say the wrong thing at the wrong time, and his self-importance. Abigail comes across as very grounded, shrewd and anchored in reality, far unlike her husband at times. The book doesn't stray into psychobabble or add romantic flourishes; it just presents the story as we know it from the evidence, most obviously the couple's letters to each other. Professor Ellis is judicious in his selection from these, building the reader's sense of confidence in his judgment. One small touch that illustrates this is the sense in the correspondence that the pair really enjoyed their sex life. This is not discussed in depth nor ignored, but is just part of the complete sketching of the picture, delicately handled.
2. It shows the complex dynamics of a family - Abigail's strengths, commonsense and management skills, the family investment in the superstar son, John Quincy Adams, the disappointments of other children, with business failures, poor marriage choices and death from chronic alcohol abuse. It's very much a partnership at work - John persistently trying to do the right thing and Abigail keeping it all together.
3. It brings out the very heavy burdens and price paid by the couple in Adam's truly patriotic service; the long, multi-year absences in France and England where their letters were infrequent, cautiously phrased because of the fear of their being intercepted by the British Navy in the many weeks it took for them to be conveyed across the Atlantic, and the frustrations each had to deal with but could not easily complain about. For me, this was one of the strongest elements of the book.
4. It has the right balance - enough depth to make it a serious contribution and enough pace and selectivity to make it a good read.
It has some limitations. It is not exciting, though it flows well. There's nothing new in the book - a strength as well as a limitation. It organizes material that is widely available and stays in the centrist mainstream, with no revisionist theory. Ellis doesn't play games with history; as he states in his opening he offers a "biography of a partnership." If you are already pretty familiar with the politics and personalities, this may not offer much. It takes the viewpoint of Adams and doesn't throw much light on Washington, who remains a background enigma. It has a marked flavor of being anti-Hamilton, Adam's villain and the most powerful political driver of the times. It continues the increasingly consensual puncturing of Franklin's skilled self-advertising and portrays him as a double-dealing egotist. It covers Jefferson in more detail because of the centrality of their friendship and its breakdown. By and large, he takes Adam's side on the issues of Anglo- versus Franco-relationships.
A good book, a quiet pleasure, and an explanation of why Professor Ellis wins Pulitzer Prizes for his books.

5-0 out of 5 stars A concise and excellent biography of a great love.
There's nothing new here that you haven't seen before in the HBO mini series and the wonderful McCullough biography from a few years back, but this time, the story of John Adams, one of our most foremost founding fathers, is told through the eyes of his relationship to his dear friend Abigail. The two of them wrote so often to each other, and so many of their letters have been preserved, that we find a significant portion of the history of the beginning of the USA through their pens. So anything that is written about them is more than a little worth reading.

I would have to say that the aforementioned McCullough biography is probably the best biography I ever read, but Joseph Ellis tells the same story in fewer pages, and gives us just a slightly different slant on the story, and for those who just don't have the stomach or the time for a very very long book, the whole thing is told in about 250 pages.

There are great leadership lessons here, nice examples of how a couple works out some big family problems, amidst a grand and readable biography that will most likely give Ellis the attention he's also gotten with his previous works on the same period.

I found the book a bit short, I wanted more, but then again, there is ALWAYS another wonderful biography from that period to read. Bravo!

5-0 out of 5 stars A Great First Family
Joseph Ellis has once again done a remarkable job in taking us back to early American history in this account of Abigail and John Adams. Truly, they were probably the most unique and close First Family of our Nation.
We are fortunate that Abigail and John maintained constant contact throughout their marriage with a multitude of letters and notes that have been preserved from their day. As a result, the author had an abundance of personal information from which to draw and as a result has given us insight that goes beyond mere historical documentation.
John was a determined man, set in his own ideas and very much opposed to partisan politics. Abigail was always there, if not in person, then by letters of encouragement and often helpful advice.
Through this personal account the reader will feel a close encounter with the lives of these two great Americans. You will follow John's career from the defending of the British soldiers in the Boston Massacre to his presidency and to his final days. You will feel the pain and suffering he endured with so many personal problems with his children as well as his heartaches from friends who turned on him. The beauty of the story is Abigail was always there for him.
This is a great look at history and a family that had so much impact in our founding years. It's a great read and I know you will enjoy it.
... Read more

4. My Dearest Friend: Letters of Abigail and John Adams
by Abigail Adams, John Adams
 Paperback: 528 Pages (2010-11-15)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$12.89
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0674057058
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Listen to a ten-minute interview with Margaret Hogan
Host: Chris Gondek | Producer: Heron & Crane

Read Margaret Hogan's HUP blog posting: "The Romance of John and Abigail Adams"

Watch the video of The Massachusetts Historical Society's November 2007 event at which Deval and Diane Patrick, Edward and Victoria Kennedy, and Michael and Kitty Dukakis read selected letters from My Dearest Friend

Visit the Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive

Watch the March 2008 HBO miniseries--"John Adams"--based on David McCullough's Pulitzer Prize-winning biography

In 1762, John Adams penned a flirtatious note to "Miss Adorable," the 17-year-old Abigail Smith. In 1801, Abigail wrote to wish her husband John a safe journey as he headed home to Quincy after serving as president of the nation he helped create. The letters that span these nearly forty years form the most significant correspondence--and reveal one of the most intriguing and inspiring partnerships--in American history.

As a pivotal player in the American Revolution and the early republic, John had a front-row seat at critical moments in the creation of the United States, from the drafting of the Declaration of Independence to negotiating peace with Great Britain to serving as the first vice president and second president under the U.S. Constitution. Separated more often than they were together during this founding era, John and Abigail shared their lives through letters that each addressed to "My Dearest Friend," debating ideas and commenting on current events while attending to the concerns of raising their children (including a future president).

Full of keen observations and articulate commentary on world events, these letters are also remarkably intimate. This new collection--including some letters never before published--invites readers to experience the founding of a nation and the partnership of two strong individuals, in their own words. This is history at its most authentic and most engaging.

(20070915) ... Read more

Customer Reviews (17)

5-0 out of 5 stars Two Patriots, Only One Vote
** page 186 - "About an hour ago I received a Letter from you beginning in this manner - 'My Dearest Friend'. That one single expression dwelt upon my mind and playd about my Heart.." (Abigail Adams)***

The union between Abigail and John Adams was one that all marriages are meant to accomplish, yet very few actually do. They were matched; as Life's partners, lovers, friends and equals in all areas of importance, including the politics of the day, politics and movements so immense that it was a miracle their marriage could survive it at all, much less thrive on the danger and anxiety inherent with their time. Abigail was of an intelligence par with her husband, they could converse with each other - no doubt that was the unshakable bond beyond all else between them; and these wonderful historical documents are proof without doubt of what happened in the turbulent times before, during and after the Revolution.Their pen was a weapon against adversity, a way of finding comfort and support in any situation.

Abigail, in my view, must be considered one of the first women (along with Mercy Otis)with enough courage to speak up about women's rights, and she had the right partner to speak up to because he chose to listen carefully if not entirely - the times not being ripe as yet for such a radical idea. John Adams brushed some of it off tongue-in-cheek as he responded to her statements about education and other essential human rights for women, but it is clear that he valued her opinions and could not deny the truth behind her thoughts.She could not vote, and I imagine such a forbearance rankled in the psyche of such a remarkable woman.and he probably, at one time or another thought: "Rats.One more vote might have done it for me."

They were there for each other, if only by letters for most of the time during the early years when the important work of the Revolution must take preference over the home ground for John; when Abigail's duty, as she saw it, was to keep the home front in an even condition because that was the job description the Revolution assigned to her. Staunch patriots both, there was little whining on either side, yearning and loneliness was the only emotion divulged in their long-distance love and life affair, and it was also plain that they knew their letters would one day become part of the historical record that John once asked Thomas Jefferson: "Who will write of it?Who can write of it?"Perhaps some of the critical elements of it will never be known, but it would seem that these three made a very good accounting of it as amateur historians.

All one has to do to stop complaining about the trials of their own present-day lives, is stop and read of the hardships thrust upon people by something being done for posterity, and the unselfish grit they demonstrated. Thinking of my own children as Abigail, in an incredible leap of faith, took all of hers to have them vaccinated for smallpox when the new vaccine might well have killed them too. When thinking of the choice she had to make in something as simple as what we take for granted now - vaccine against dread disease for loved ones - it is easy to see the sacrifices these people of the forefathers made for the rest of us. They wanted a new beginnings for a new nation, a fairer government, and they were willing to die to make it a reality for posterity.All of this was apparent in their letters to one another.

For people with an interest in the American Revolution, and the actual accountings of the people living it at the time, this book, along with "The Adams-Jefferson Letters" is priceless reading.

Other highly recommended American Revolution reading:

** "Miracle at Philadelphia" by Catherine Drinker Bowen
** "Three men of Boston" by John r. galvin
** "Jefferson" by Thomas Jefferson (Library of America)
** "Paul Revere's Ride" by David Hackett Fischer
** "American Colonies" by Alan Taylor
** "The First American" (Franklin) by H.W. Brands (Library of America)
** "1776" by David McCullough
** "John Adams" by David McCullough
** "Orators of the American Revolution" by Elias Lyman Magoon
** American Speeches" Political Oratory (Library of America) Nothing boring between these pages - the bravest and brightest intellects of our nation were available and hard at work speaking the minds of the rest of us - so that we might understand ourselves.

5-0 out of 5 stars Item just as described
Item bought, shipped out quickly, and arrived safe and sound in a timely manner. Thanks seller!

5-0 out of 5 stars greeneyedjo
This is an absolutly wonderful book about John and Abigail Adams.They had quite the unique relationship, which is clearly conveyed in these pages of beautiful letters. Their love and respect each other is so very heartwarming. The reader also gets a deep sense of what it was like to live through the birth of a nation. Worth the read.

5-0 out of 5 stars My Dearest Friend
Our bookclub chose this book just about the same time that the John Adams Movie for TV came out.It could not have been at a better time.We got to know one of our founding fathers and his wife who was such a strong woman and the obvious love of his life.The reading was a bit difficult because it was all about their letters to one another written during that time period.But it was a great read.NancyHorse Sense: A whimsical desktop guide to horse care

5-0 out of 5 stars Insightful
My Dearest Friend: Letters of Abigail and John Adams reveals much about both, Abilgail Adams and John Adams. It is interesting how Abilgail had so much influence on John's heart and how she actually helped mold the Declaration of Independence and American Revolution with her candor, compassion, and commonsense. ... Read more

5. The Letters of John and Abigail Adams
by Abigail Adams
Paperback: 512 Pages (2003-12-30)
list price: US$17.00 -- used & new: US$9.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0142437115
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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The Letters of John and Abigail Adams provides an insightful record of American life before, during, and after the Revolution; the letters also reveal the intellectually and emotionally fulfilling relationship between John and Abigail that lasted fifty-four years and withstood historical upheavals, long periods apart, and personal tragedies. Covering key moments in American history-the Continental Congress, the drafting of the Declaration of Independence, the Revolutionary War, and John Adams's diplomatic missions to Europe-the letters reveal the concerns of a couple living during a period of explosive change, from smallpox and British warships to raising children, paying taxes, the state of women, and the emerging concepts of American democracy. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful read
I really loved being able to see into the lives of these great founders. It's great to see even during those times, a man respect the woman he loves and her opinion. I highly recomend this especially for those just begining intrest in the founding of our nation.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great historical record
Great book.You need to put yourself in the mindset of 1775.Great historical record of the Adams' early life separated.

5-0 out of 5 stars Go for it!
If you're at all interested in American history, I HIGHLY recommend this book. I though it was going to be dry and tough to read with a lot of thees and thous etc., but it's surprisingly warm, easy to follow and gripping story told in the very words of one of our greatest Americans and his wife.

5-0 out of 5 stars The loving letters of our second president and his wife abigail: brilliance in Braintree!
John Adams was the first Vice-President and second chief
executive of the United States of America. He was also a brilliant lawyer, legislator, writer and diplomat for the fledging American nation in France and the Netherlands during
the Revolutionary War.
In this excellent collection of personal letters John and
Abigail share their thoughts on a wide variety of topics chiefly the struggle for our nation's independence. The letters in this
copious collection cover the years from 1774 to 1783 (the years
of the American Revolution).
These are two extremely intelligent persons! John's letters
let the reader look through the keyhole in Philadelphia as the
Declaration of Independence is approved; throughout the war
Adams was away from his Braintree farm for long stretches of
time. His life was in danger and he was worried about Abigail and
their young children. A few of the letters in this collection
were written by his parents to the young John Quincy Adams who
served as the sixth President of the United States.
Abigail lived long before the womens liberation movement but
she was the intellectual equal of her husband. Abigail kept the
farm going staying abreast of political affairs and raising a
great American family.
The patriotism and self-sacrifice of the Adams family is an
inspiration to all Americans. This is a wonderful collection
for anyone wishing to know these two American patriots on a more
intimate basis. Excellent resource for history classes and anyone wishing to know more about our history. ... Read more

6. John Adams: A Life
by John Ferling
Paperback: 544 Pages (2010-02-09)
list price: US$21.95 -- used & new: US$13.37
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Asin: 0195398661
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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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.
Drawing on extensive research, Ferling depicts a reluctant revolutionary, a leader who was deeply troubled by the warfare that he helped to make, and a fiercely independent statesman. The book brings to life an exciting time, an age in which Adams played an important political and intellectual role. Indeed, few were more instrumental in making American independence a reality. He performed yeoman's service in the Continental Congress during the revolution and was a key figure in negotiating the treaty that brought peace following the long War of Independence. He held the highest office in the land and as president he courageously chose to pursue a course that he thought best for the nation, though it was fraught with personal political dangers. Adams emerges here a man full of contradictions. He could be petty and jealous, but also meditative, insightful, and provocative. In private and with friends he could be engagingly witty. He was terribly self-centered, but in his relationship with his wife and children his shortcomings were tempered by a deep, abiding love.
John Ferling's masterful John Adams: A Life is a singular biography of the man who succeeded George Washington in the presidency and shepherded the fragile new nation through the most dangerous of times. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Better Than Ole David McCullough's Work On Adams
We all might be more familiar with McCullough's book on this forgotten Founder. After all, that book was turned into an HBO movie. That does not mean it is the better book, though. I would argue the Ferling's book is much, much better. It offers more insight into Adams' life and works, but without all the frilly trips into his environment. Ferling does a good job of placing Adams in the intellectual stream of his times, but without trying to novelize his relations with others of his generation. This is a sound practice because it prevents Adams from appearing as simply one individual who let his personality be shaped by the reaction to those around him. He had a brain, a very strong one as well, which is why we should not forget the fact that he responded to things beyond those around him. Ferling does this, and gives a great book in the process. ... Read more

7. Orations
by John Quincy Adams
Paperback: 24 Pages (2010-07-06)
list price: US$9.99 -- used & new: US$9.99
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Asin: B003XYDY5I
Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Orations is presented here in a high quality paperback edition. This popular classic work by John Quincy Adams is in the English language. If you enjoy the works of John Quincy Adams then we highly recommend this publication for your book collection. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

2-0 out of 5 stars No Table of Contents
I cannot stand all these books for the Kindle without a linked table of contents. This is one of them. Has great content, but it's not easily navigable. ... Read more

8. The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams
by John Adams
Paperback: 690 Pages (1988-09-30)
list price: US$29.95 -- used & new: US$18.74
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Asin: 0807842303
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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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.

Lester J. Cappon's edition, first published in 1959 in two volumes, provides the complete correspondence between these two men and includes the correspondence between Abigail Adams and Jefferson. Many of these letters have been published in no other modern edition, nor does any other edition devote itself exclusively to the exchange between Jefferson and the Adamses. Introduction, headnotes, and footnotes inform the reader without interrupting the speakers. This reissue of The Adams-Jefferson Letters in a one-volume unabridged edition brings to a broader audience one of the monuments of American scholarship and, to quote C. Vann Woodward, 'a major treasure of national literature.' ... Read more

Customer Reviews (23)

5-0 out of 5 stars A brilliant insight into how two of our Founding Fathers thought about the state and fate of our Republic
Adams and Jefferson converse on a variety of subjects, ranging from the importance of religion in the public sector (and what that means), to what sets Native Americans apart from other "savages" (they remark on how advanced and civilized they are--and the theory that they may be descended from Israel!), to Greek translations!

A nice moment is when Jefferson gives the new president--John Quincy Adams--a nod of encouragement, as he also gives kduos to his friend for raising his son in a way that prepared him for the highest office of the land, without realizing it.

One of the most powerfull subjects they discuss, however, begins when Adams starts to express doubt on whether our Republic will truly stand the test of time. This, indeed, is the memorable exchange that commmentator Glenn Beck often refers to.

Adams rights on December 21st, 1819, "I know it is high treason to express a doubt of the perpetual duration of our vast American Empire...but I am sometimes Cassandra enough to dream that another Hamilton, another Burr might rend this mighty Fabric in twain, or perhaps into a leash, and a few more choice spirits of the same Stamp, might produce as many Nations in North America as there are in Europe."

At first, Jefferson replies with reassurance, saying, (on March 14, 1820), "We have, willingly, done injury to no man; and have done for our country the good which has fallen in our way, so far as commensurate with the faculties given us.That we have not done more than we could cannot be imputed to us as a crime before any tribunal.I look therefore to that crisis, as I am sure you also do, as one "who neither fears the final day nor hopes for it."

Later, he addresses the idea more fully, expressing that freedom CAN be restored, should the worst happen.On September 4th, 1823, he writes, "A first attempt to recover the right of self-government may fail; so may a 2nd, a 3rd, etc., bus as a younger, and more instructed race [in other words, as Beck paraphrases, a generation that finally understands what the Founders were trying to do] comes on, the sentiment becomes more and more intuitive, and a 4th, a 5th, or some subsequent one of the ever renewed attempts will ultimately succeed."

He adds that "To attain all this, however, rivers of blood must yet flow, and years of desolation pass over.Yet the object is worth rivers of blood, and years of desolation--for what inheritance so valuable can man leave to his prosperity?"

Thus, there is optimism, mixed with a dark warning--make sure you preserve your freedom.You can get it back if you lose it...but it will mean going through torment to restore it all to what it was.

5-0 out of 5 stars Orion's Belt
** Page 451 - John Adams to Jefferson - "Who shall write the History of the Revolution?Who can write it?Who will ever be able to write it?The most essential documents, the debates and deliberations in Congress from 1774 to 1783 were all in secret, and are now lost forever."

** Page 452 - Thomas Jefferson to Adams - "You ask 'Who shall write it?Who can write it?Who will ever be able to write it? 'Nobody; except for merely it's external facts."

For any American History enthusiast, this surely should be recommended without reservation.Much has been written by others, but nothing is told quite so well or completely as that which derives from the pen of the men and women who took the time to set it down "in vivo". Within the pages of this remarkable set of documents, we observe two of the forefathers spend their lives in devout service to their new nation - as though we walk beside them.We watch as youthful vigor turns to experienced maturity as they did the work of the people and suffered the personal consequences of such an undertaking; subsequently and sorrowfully, the subsiding into the resignation of waiting out the waning years as mortal health but not mind or memory forsake them both; and finally, the letters abruptly end, but the brilliance left behind will never die.

How fortunate we were to have people of such courage of conviction willing to step forward under pain of death to do the incredibly difficult, often thankless work of a new nation.These letters bring to light the very soul of the beginnings; the intimate insight into the restless minds and hearts of three of them who opted to share among them the burdens, the experiences and undoubtedly, the euphoria that went with it - of moral support in a daunting task accomplished when it was well thought out; trusted criticism when it needed a bit more of thoughts amended.

Jefferson, in his brilliance, is all business when writing to John Adams, but less so when he is conversing with Abigail - it's as if he lets his guard down and is freer of constraints with her; sensing a different canvas and a kindred spirit, his sense of humor tries to come through and makes it as far as decorum of that era will allow.A good example begins on page 34.He initiates a tongue-in-cheek dialog with Abigail regarding the "energy of government" running wild with the censorship of a "treasonous" song that, in true political discretion, he can't remember the "who" origins of,(but has all the other details down pat) that subsequently landed the offender in jail after "he was 'seised' in the middle of the night"; and refers to it again later on in his correspondence as a lark needing more mileage.However, it is also somewhat apparent that she did not forgive him their eventual political differences as did her husband, for her part of the once-lively correspondence suffers a sea-change and, as I saw it, becomes duty-bound courteous responses, mostly as addendum to John Adams letters.A fascinating glimpse into the playful under-psyche of a genius, we also find an unshakable granite vein of common sense which is what I found so remarkable about him.

While both men were in the trenches on the forefront, their approach was endogenously different; Adams was a fierce competitor, obviously thriving on the frey even as he missed his farm and homeland; Jefferson had little taste for the twit and twitter of politics, and in fact, intimated that he would prefer to quit entirely rather than stoop to some of it. (page 70)Adams too, had a flair for the dramatic humor at times, referring to the Duties that the English ships would avoid by simply "frenchizing, Dutchizing, Swedishimizing" their ships.Their responsibility toward the country's limited financial means is noteworthy by today's debauched standards; they were discussing the prudence of financing a suit of clothes for one of their trusted messengers in order for him to be presentable in the court of the dignitaries.

I marvel at how diligently they overcame the communications difficulties; their important missives had to cross entire oceans to and from.Think of the loss of precious time - no planes, no electronics, no instant means by which to make decisions - the only method via ships taking several weeks in the best of conditions to reach a destination and deliver the business correspondence (by pen) of entire countries (and the children) to the waiting.

It is clear they valued one another highly, both professionally and personally, and though driven apart by differences of opinion (much of it personal)and political pressures placed on them by the parts they would play in the developing Nation, the bond was ultimately too strong to break, and they would once again reunite to spend their last years in friendship.It is also clear that the wisdom of Dr. Benjamin Rush played a role in stimulating their forgiveness of one another).

For Jefferson and Adams, bound by fate as they lived, even unto death they rode together - on Independence Day.

It is ironic that Abigail Adams would never cast her vote for either man.Abigail Adams could not vote.

3-0 out of 5 stars Did everyone get this book with a sleeve?
I did not receive a sleeve with this book as described in the picture and I am embarrassed to give this as a gift to someone for Christmas. Amazon offered to give me a replacement in 3-5 weeks but there is no guarantee that it will come with a sleeve. I was wondering if everyone else received this book with it's sleeve or just the hardcover book?

5-0 out of 5 stars I like the book!
It is a very good book, the reading is really good!!! I loved reading the letters between Jefferson and Adams!!!! The letters are very good!!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars Makes history come alive
This is a very intersting book.The letters are all preceeded by an introduction that gives the reader historical context as well as a description of the relationship at the time between the writers of the letter. ... Read more

9. Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams
by Joseph J. Ellis
Paperback: 288 Pages (2001-02-17)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$2.89
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393311333
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A fresh look at this astute, likably quirky statesman, by the author of the Pulitzer Award-winning Founding Brothers. "The most lovable and most laughable, the warmest and possibly the wisest of the founding fathers, John Adams knew himself as few men do and preserved his knowledge in a voluminous correspondence that still resonates. Ellis has used it with great skill and perception not only to bring us the man, warts and all, but more importantly to reveal his extraordinary insights into the problems confronting the founders that resonate today in the republic they created."151;Edmund S. Morgan, Sterling Professor of History Emeritus, Yale University. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (36)

5-0 out of 5 stars Another great one from Ellis
I'm a huge fan of Joseph Ellis, and this one is just as good as his other, more famous books.Just an incredible read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Very Good.
The author has written a handful of very good books on America's Founding Fathers. These are not conventional biographies per se, i.e. birth to death chronologies, but rather focus on the formative years/events in the founding of the republic, including the historical figures involved or vice versa, focusing on a specific historical figure and his impact on these critical times and his legacy. These books are somewhat cerebral - thoughts vs. actions - but are not dry intellectual tomes - a credit to the author.

Passionate Sage is the latter - chronicling Adams' life after his "retirement" from the Presidency, (1801), to his death on July 4th, 1826 in Massachusetts - fifty years after the "signing" of the Declaration of Independence - and the same day, in an almost fictional quirk of history, that Thomas Jefferson died at Monticello in Virginia. (Note - This book was written before McCullough's biography.) We are privy to much of Adams' thoughts and memories during this time because of his prolific letter writing - most notably with Thomas Jefferson but with many others - and because these letters have been thankfully preserved. Also Mr. Adams - who read a lot during his retirement - had the interesting habit of arguing with the books he read by leaving notes in the margins - Another fascinating facet of his personality.

The topics covered are wide and varied - including theories on government, critical decisions, and historical personalities - and being John Adams, he usually brings these written discussions around to himself and his thoughts and actions. This last bit is what makes Adams human and therefore fascinating. Washington and Jefferson have been put on historical pedestals, consciously so; Adams is one of us - albeit a very intelligent one of us.

The only caveat here is that the book assumes some previous knowledge of Adams and his times - but otherwise is a fascinating and engaging read. It also makes for an excellent sequel to Catherine Drinker Bowen's book on Adams' formative years - John Adams and The American Revolution and also a great supplement to David McCullough's excellent Adams biography.

5-0 out of 5 stars McCullough's Poor Cousin
Despite some controversy regarding Ellis's plagiarism from other sources for this book, I love it.I feel the the much more popular McCullough view of Adams is also excellent but would encourage people to t read this book because for me it presented the mind of John Adams much more clearly.I prefer it, despite the protests of my friends and colleagues who do not see what I see in this book, a gem.

3-0 out of 5 stars Passionate Sage:John Adams
Not exactly what I was looking for. I wanted a more chronological
biographical story. This author did a great job with George Washington
from beginning to end. In John Adams he skips around through different
phases of his life. Very in depth and sometimes complicated on his description
of Adams. I'm still reading but it is a hard book to understand for a novice reader like myself, even though I am a true American history fan

5-0 out of 5 stars A Man For Our Times
Little would John Adams know that the 2000's would see the re-birth of the Adams legacy.First, there was the David McCullough book chronicling his life, and then the HBO award winning series taken from that book.There has been a continuing push to get an Adams memorial on the Mall in Washington.All this would have made John Adams immensely satisfied, because as he died he correctly predicted that Thomas Jefferson's conception of America would live on, and his would be relegated to the backwaters of history.But in the 200 years since Adams lived and wrote, America does not find itself in the liberal paradise that Mr. Jefferson imagined, nor does it find itself the financial-industrial-military state that Hamilton envisioned, because as I write this review, that state is in ruins.Adams and his writings remain as brilliant cautionary warnings about ideology, untrammeled patriotism, religious fervor and unbridled greed.Basically, the credo that most Americans took for granted, has broken down.Ellis does not follow a straight narrative in his book, but instead focuses on Adams as he leaves the Presidency as the Revolution of 1800 beckons.
His writings in the period after the presidency strike the reader as lacking any kind of ideology, but rather concentrate on the way things are.Even as a young man, Adams had the notable, albeit impolitic, way of speaking the truth no matter whom the audience was.On religion: "After listening to an argument in behalf of the divinity of Jesus Christ that concluded with the unknowability of it all, Adams jotted down his own conclusion: `Thus Mystery is made a convenient Cover for absurdity.'On his chosen profession: "the chief problem with the lawyer was that `he often forments more quarrels then he composes, and inriches himself at the expense of impoverishing others more honest than himself."While these polemics can be explained as an angry young man (he wrote them in the 1750's) they still are important, because none of the others founders spoke like this.
But as the Revolution came and went, and his Presidency, Adams again railed against ideologues from Europe saying that: "Equality is one of those equivocal words which the philosophy of the 18th Century has made fraudulent...in the last twenty five years it has cheated millions out of their lives and tens of millions out of their property."Adams, unlike most current Presidents who constantly quote God as `on our side', never thought that America was a chosen nation: "There is no special providence..we must and we shall go the way of all earth."
Not exactly, the kinds of words that you would expect to hear at a 4th of July celebration.But just because Adams was a cynic does not mean that he didn't appreciate the validity of the cause of American independence.His main line of thinking saw the Revolution as a necessary evil, and did everything in his power as ambassador and as President to preserve it, so the Spirit of 1776 would not devolve into the flames of a counterrevolution or a Reign of Terror.I for one, am glad that America is rediscovering the Adams legacy of public service coupled with a healthy dose of pragmatism.We should do well to remember this as a new decade and a new Presidency begins.

... Read more

10. John Quincy Adams (American Profiles (Madison House Paperback))
by Lynn Hudson Parsons
Paperback: 272 Pages (1999-03-01)
list price: US$28.95 -- used & new: US$24.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0945612591
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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He was born in 1767, a subject of the British Empire, and died in 1848, a citizen of the United States and a member of Congress in company with Abraham Lincoln. In his dramatic career he had known George Washington and Benjamiin Franklin, La Fayette of France, Alexander I of Russia, and Castlereagh of Great Britain. He had both collaborated and quarrelled with Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, and Daniel Webster. In his lifetime Americans had fought for and established their independence, adopted a Constitution, fought two wars with Great Britain and one with Mexico. They had expanded south to the Rio Grande and west to the Pacific. At the time of his death, Adams was seen as a living connection between the present and past of the young republic and his passing severed one of the nation's last ties with its founding generation. As son of the second president of the United States, father of the minister to the Court of St. James, and grandfather to author Henry Adams, John Quincy Adams was part of an American dynasty. In his own career as secretary of state, President, senator, and congressman, Adams was as an actor in some of the most dramatic events of the nineteenth century. In this concise biography, Lynn Hudson Parsons masterfully chronicles the life of one of America's most absorbing figures. From the day in 1778 when, as a boy, he accompanied his father on a diplomatic mission to France, to his last years as an eloquent , cantankerous opponent of this country's foreign and domestic policies, Adams was rarely detached from public affairs. And yet, this biography reveals Adams as a man never truly at home anywhere--in Washington he was stubborn and reclusive, in Europe he was a phlegmatic ideologue, a bulldog among spaniels. His story parallels America's own. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars John Quincy Adams biography
Ordered this book used.It is in excellent condition (as advertised).Very prompt service.
Also, loved the biography - very well written.I would suggest following up this read with Whelan's 'Mr.Adams Last Crusade' which gives a lot more detail to John Quincy's 17 years in the House of Representatives after his presidency.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good bio on America's greatest secretary of state
Parsons does a fine job in explaining the life and goals of John Quincy Adams. He writes well and moves the book along.

In some areas I would have liked more explanation or greater detail, including the failure of JQA's presidency, but Parsons thankfully avoids getting bogged down as many biographers do. Nor does he skirt the ex-president's interesting career as a congressman after he left the White House. (There are several other books that explore that part of JQA's life more thoroughly).

As one would expect, Parsons likes his subject and at time goes easy on him, while Adams' enemies and their motives come in for somewhat tougher treatment (in a generally polite book).

One could question, for example, JQA's support for acquiring the Oregon territory while denouncing the acquisition of Texas. Like many politicians of the time, JQA could be guilty of measuring his support for any issue based on whether it might help or hurt slavery, regardless of any other consideration.

I give only the very greatest book five stars, so my rating should not be viewed as a negative. This is the best book available for anyone interested in the life and times of John Quincy Adams.

5-0 out of 5 stars John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams, the second President, was one of America's greatest diplomats. He made a name for himself as the country was being formed, especially with his defense of "the rules of law" against the will of the majority. He was one of the last of the old Federalists. He was a foreign minister to Holland, Portugal, and Prussia, and was Secretary of State under Monroe (where he was the main force in establishing the Monroe Doctrine). He became the sixth President in a controversial election that was decided in the House of Representatives.

Parson's short (272 pages) but thorough and well-written biography of Adams is a job well done. She details the accomplishments of his life, but focuses primarily on the man himself. Adams was a stern man (his portrait reminds me of some evil Dickens character, Marley perhaps), and not well-liked by the public. He believed that one should not "run" for a political office, but should just accept it if offered (imagine that today!). He hated Andrew Jackson and slavery, and fought hard against both. This is an excellent book on an interesting man.

5-0 out of 5 stars You cheered his life after reading this book.
After reading this well written biography, I experienced the sorrows, joys, and accomplishments in the life of one of our country's greatest statesmen.

5-0 out of 5 stars A highly recommended, easy reading bio of the 6th President
Lynn H. Parsons has written a biography that is blessedly free from 'academic speak' or the sense that he is only writing for other historians.This is definitely a biography for even the most casual lover of history. Parsons' familiarity with JQA allows him to introduce us to that prickly character as one would introduce an eccentric friend--always aware of the eccentricities but never apologizing for them. Adams (and his father) are two of the greatest of America's early statesmen and two of it's worst politicians.Parsons presents the genius and the folly and allows us to weigh our opinions--tho' its clear where Parsons' affections lie. It is hard to imagine that anyone will (or could) write a better one volume popular biography of JQA.Parsons clearly could tell us much more, but he chooses not to bog his narrative down in the kind of historical detail that glazes the eye of the casual reader.For serious historians this is a valuable book because it doesn't get lost in its own importance--the writing is direct, succinct and keeps the reader aware of the difference of the attitudes of Adams and his contemporaries to our current sensibilities. Parsons ends with a note that JQA's only monument in Washington is a small plaque in statuary hall in the Capitol.I would argue that Adams' best monument in DC is the one he would be proudest of--the Smithsonian Institution he fought so hard to help establish. I highly recommend this book. ... Read more

11. John Quincy Adams (The American Presidents Series)
by Robert V. Remini
Hardcover: 192 Pages (2002-08-20)
list price: US$23.00 -- used & new: US$5.87
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0805069399
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A vivid portrait of a man whose pre- and post-presidential careers overshadowed his presidency.

Chosen by the House of Representatives after an inconclusive election against Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams often failed to mesh with the ethos of his era, pushing unsuccessfully for a strong, consolidated national government. Historian Robert V. Remini recounts how in the years before his presidency Adams was a shrewd, influential diplomat, and later, as a dynamic secretary of state under President James Monroe, he solidified many basic aspects of American foreign policy, including the Monroe Doctrine. Undoubtedly his greatest triumph was the negotiation of the Transcontinental Treaty, through which Spain acknowledged Florida to be part of the United States. After his term in office, he earned the nickname "Old Man Eloquent" for his passionate antislavery speeches.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (27)

4-0 out of 5 stars A good overview of JQA...
The Schlesinger series has its ups and downs, but this is a bright spot. Remini examines the man's strengths and weaknesses, and gives you a great idea about why JQA was only a one termer. He delves into the frayed marriage of JQA and Louisa, and his struggle as a parent. But, contrary to what another reviewer says, it does give him great credit for his successes as Secretary of State and as a Congressman, as well as his private citizen foray into the Amistad matter. A good primer on the man, which is the purpose of the short books of the Schlesinger series.

5-0 out of 5 stars Will Make You WANT To Keep Turning The Pages
To be honest, the first five books of the "American Presidents" series (excluding, ironically enough, the John Adams installment) were somewhat of a chore for me to get through.Unless you are obsessed with that time period, and not just fascinated by the Presidential Office and looking to gain a bit more history like myself, at times the series can get a bit bogged down in details and philosophy.This "chapter", however, has been the easiest to get through to this point, as author Robert Remini keeps the narrative moving forward and doesn't get lost in the fine details.

Basically, Remini paints a fascinating portrait of our nation's sixth president, a man whose entire administration was steeped in controversy from the very beginning, and whose impeccable honor did not permit him to stoop to the level of his aggravators.While reading, I began to see both sides of "JQA"...the man of great principle who so desperately wanted (much like his father) to be "above" the realm of politics; as well as the shrewd orator with the fiery temper who could argue a case like no other.

Perhaps what really made me admire this, installment, though, was the focus on JQA himself, not the current world events.Sure, the events taking place during Adams' administration are going to play a large role in the book, but they are tempered (unlike the earlier works) to be viewed through the prism of Adams, not explained in every minute detail.

Thus, I considered this to be the best effort of the series up to this point.For whatever reason, the stories of both "Adams Presidents" have been the most compelling and well-written.

3-0 out of 5 stars A good starting place
Remini's book on John Quincy Adams is as good a starting place as any.What was odd about the book is that it spent so much time on his younger days and seemingly less time on the period of his life where he was the most influential.While JQA's early life and time in Europe was certainly interesting, I would have preferred a more in depth look at his thinking during his days in Congress.The book is brief and so it there is little room to quote extensively from Adam's or his contemporaries, and while source material does appear, it isn't enough to give the reader the sense that Remini's interpretations of JQA and his motives are conclusive.In fact, the book leaves you with more questions than it answers.If you are looking for a basic introduction to the subject area, then this is an excellent choice.If your preference is for deeper, scholarly material...look elsewhere.

4-0 out of 5 stars A President with ideals.
JQA reminds me of Jimmy Carter.Here was a man with ideals who wished to point the country in a direction and failed miserably.Much of what is said about JQA was mudslinging by his political opponents like Calhoun or Jackson.He was against slavery, wanted progress for the nation in scienitific and exploration projects, and development.The opposition effectively shut him down by attacking his character and intelligence.JQA tried his best, but failed to lead.His personal demeanor was not political, and this also cost him support.

JQA ultimately failed to lead.However his career after the Presidency resulted in him being elected to Congress for nine terms.His oratory made its point in Congress.His ideals shown through.Ultimately he was a patriotic idealist.

5-0 out of 5 stars JQA
Great, concise biography.You will want to read another in-depth bio after this one.You can't read enough about these great ones. ... Read more

12. John Adams Speaks for Freedom (Ready-to-Read. Level 3)
by Deborah Hopkinson
Paperback: 32 Pages (2005-01-06)
list price: US$3.99 -- used & new: US$1.30
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Asin: 068986907X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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John Adams didn't enjoy traveling. He much preferred to stay home with his wife and children. But John Adams also had a dream: He wanted to see the thirteen colonies free from English rule. He wanted to see the creation of a new country -- the United States of America. John Adams did whatever was needed to make his dream come true. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Pretty good
The reading level is on the easy side of level 3, in my opinion.This is good for *some* background on Adams, but it does not cover his eloquence or genius.For those traits, Jefferson gets all the glory (which is not untypical.)

Nice information on Abigail.

Good illustrations.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great reader!
My second grade son and I have enjoyed reading this and the other Stories of Famous Americans.We are studying early American History and I really enjoy offering him readers with historical content.He enjoyed this story so much, he has decided to pursue a law degree and become a politician himself(for this week!).I love books that encourage him to reach for the stars. ... Read more

13. The John Adams Reader: Essential Writings on an American Composer (Amadeus)
by Thomas May
Hardcover: 455 Pages (2006-06-19)
list price: US$27.95 -- used & new: US$16.40
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Asin: 1574671324
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The John Adams Reader: Essential Writings on an American Composer gathers a colorful and wide-ranging selection of pieces from leading musical commentators and critics. Included are revealing interviews with the composer and such collaborators as Peter Sellars, as well as eloquent essays by Ingram Marshall, Michael Steinberg, Alex Ross, Sarah Cahill, Alan Rich, and many others. Editor Thomas May has grouped this collection into four sections: profiles of the artist (including a fascinating memory piece from Ingram Marshall on Adams's early San Francisco years), detailed essays on the major works, interviews with some leading collaborators and interpreters, and critical reception of a wide range of Adams's body of work. This reader should be of use both as an introduction for the general reader to a preeminently significant American artist and as a reference for the more serious student or scholar.

Probing, often witty, always eloquent, the essays and interviews in this collection serve not only as a portrait of a preeminently significant American artist, but also as a window on the development of classical and art music in our time and the various cultural factors that shape it. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars A valuable compendium
It is a measure of John Adam's success as a composer of art music, for want of a better term, that such a work as this has been published at all.Adams is barely 60 years old, still active, and arguably at his most influential, but hardly the stuff of the popular press.But Thomas May has done us a service.This is a serious book about a serious artist, consisting of dozens of articles and interviews by a range of contributors published over many years.Inevitably, some ground is covered more than once: for example, the composer's journey from an East Coast student of a student of Schoenberg, to a West Coast minimalist icon.Although Adam's music itself is often described as positive in its outlook in comparison to his post-serialist European peers, Adams has never stood back from tackling big philosophical matters such as China-Western relations or the labyrinth that is Middle Eastern politics.This is reflected in the extensive debate documented in this book in regard to the Adam's opera, The Death of Klinghoffer, which is a fictionalised account of the Palestian hijack of a cruise ship.There are controversial productions of the opera canon that create a furore, but few modern operas post World War II that generated such debate that the productions themselves were withdrawn.Much of the writing is very good, including Thomas May's own contributions, which speaks well of the capacity of a society to reflect on the contribution of an artist whose chosen art form is arcane to the great majority of the population.My only quibble is with the choice made to publish a comprehensive rather than a more selected set of articles which means the book will no doubt serve a purpose as a reference resource rather than a shorter publication readers might dig into on a more casual basis.

5-0 out of 5 stars A "must-read" portrait for anyone striving to better understand both the artist and his musical art
The John Adams Reader presents an anthology of writings by a wide variety of authors about one of the most frequently performed American composers in the realm of classical music. Friends and collaborators of John Adams, including director Peter Sellers, conductor Robert Spano, performers Emanuel Ax and Dawn Upshaw, and friend Ingram Marshall, as well as extensive interviews with John Adams himself, allow for a thorough tour of his personality, his musical works, collaborators and interpreters, his critical reception, controversies about his work and his political views, and much more. As accessible to lay readers as it is to advanced music students and practitioners, The John Adams Reader is a "must-read" portrait for anyone striving to better understand both the artist and his musical art, presenting the compiled wit and charm of expert musicians.

5-0 out of 5 stars Essays by People who Know Him
John Adams is probably the most performed living American composer of classical music. And in this book, really a tribute to Mr. Adams, some sixty writers have written on some aspect of John Adams life. The essays are broken down into four major categories: Portraits of the Artist, The Musical Works, Collaborators and Interpreters, and Critical Reception. The book is biographical in part, talking of Mr. Adams early years and his decision to spend his life writing music. Other aspects of the book discuss most of his major works from looking at the content and then critically.

The writers of these essays are a who's who of the classical music world. They include performers (Emanuel Ax, Sarah Cahill), critics (Justin Davidson, Rupert Christiansen), composers (Ingram Marshall, David Schiff), critics (Renaud Machart, Alan Rich), directors (Robert Spano, Peter Spano), professors (Richard Taruskin, Arthur C. Danto), and of course Thomas May who basically put this whole book together. ... Read more

14. A Force for Nature: The Story of NRDC and Its Fight to Save Our Planet
by John H. Adams, Patricia Adams
Hardcover: 400 Pages (2010-08-25)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$9.19
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Asin: 0811865355
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The world's preeminent environmental organization began with a layer of soot on the windowsill of a Greenwich Village apartment. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) founder John H. Adams, a pioneer of environmental action, was working as a lawyer for the U.S. Attorney's office when he and fellow lawyers teamed up to form a grassroots environmental advocacy group. Since 1970, NRDC has grown into an international powerhouse with 1.2 million members and a staff of scientists and lawyers whose mission is to safeguard the planet. This inspiring memoir tells the story of the NRDC and the environmental movement it sparked. ... Read more

15. The Portable John Adams (Penguin Classics)
by John Adams
Paperback: 576 Pages (2004-06-29)
list price: US$20.00 -- used & new: US$10.84
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Asin: 0142437786
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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In addition to being an uncompromising defender of liberty, esteemed diplomat, and successor to George Washington, John Adams was a passionate and prolific writer. Adams biographer John Patrick Diggins gathers an impressive variety of his works in this compact, original volume, including parts of his diary and autobiography, and selections from his rich correspondence with this wife, Abigail, Thomas Jefferson, and others. The Portable John Adams also features his most important political works: "A Dissertation on Canon and Feudal Law," "Thoughts on Government," "A Defense of Constitutions," "Novanglus," and "Discources in Davila." There is no finer introduction to the protean genius of this seminal American philosopher. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Price, quick delivery
Excellent price compared to Amazon's list price.Thank you Amazon for providing this internal competition!

3-0 out of 5 stars UN-impressive Volume
Given that critique of John Adams' work requires specific reference to a particular work (which are available separately, thus lending themselves better to individual critique) and given that this collection leans heavily on being one of, if not THE most complete volume of Adams' work available, I'll limit myself to commentary on the quality of the collection itself. First, please note that for whatever reason (be they financial or size limitations, etc), the paper quality is wafer thin. In regular light (i.e., not under candlelight), you can read what is written on the reverse page with ease. While one may say that one gets what one pays for, given that this seems to be the only readily available volume that seems to collect all of Adams' work, Penguin Classics could have easily sprung for a heavier stock and charged extra. Furthermore, one should pay particular care to what the volume contains as it does not contain the complete letter correspondences between Adams and Abigail or between Adams and Jefferson. This entire collection is 576 pages, 40 of which are John Patrick Diggins' (editor) introduction, which given that he's listed as Adams' biographer makes sense. But, given that "My Dearest Friend: Letters of Abigail and John Adams" letter collection is itself 528 pages and given that "The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams" letter collection is 690 pages, it is clear how much is left out. In fact, Diggins only devotes 70 some odd pages to the correspondence between John and Abigail Adams and Thomas Jefferson and just 70 pages to correspondence of John and Abigail. And in case anyone is wondering who are these "and others" that the book description mentions as being included in the collection, the "others" are Roger Sherman and John Taylor with just a little over 60 pages worth of letters. Personally, I'd rather have 60 pages worth of Adams' letters to Benjamin Rush. The description notes that the volume "gathers an impressive variety of his works" - well, if by variety you mean his most famous works heavily edited, then yes. But, I personally hardly think the variety is anything impressive. And the parts of his diary and autobiography mentioned account for only about 121 pages of the collection. Thus, in conclusion, if one seeks to have a volume that gathers, as the description notes, Adams' "most important political works: "A Dissertation on Canon and Feudal Law," "Thoughts on Government," "A Defense of Constitutions," "Novanglus," and "Discources in Davila."" - then yes, it does. But how much finer could this volume have been if only it got the treatment worth other founding fathers, especially given the wonderful volumes Library of America has produced for all the founding fathers (even Madison), except Adams. Here's hoping that will change. Otherwise, of course, John Adams' writings are most recommended given their longevity (e.g., Mass. Constitution) and applicability in today's fiery political environment.

2-0 out of 5 stars Hard to read, not what I expected.
This was so hard to read I didn't finish it.Was expecting more of a biography than a collection of letters.

5-0 out of 5 stars The greatness of a founding father
Adams was in my American childhood a neglected founding father. Washington was the father of the nation, and Jefferson the great author of the 'Declaration of Independence'maker of the Louisiana Purchase, Madison the great author of the Federalist, Monroe the enunciator of the doctrine which determined US attitudes to the whole of the Americas. But in recent years there has been a great interest in the work of Adams including the outstanding award-winning biography of David MacCullough.
I have read only bits of Adams, and sense a great intelligence, organization of mind, firm conviction of democratic principle. There is a sense with him as with almost all the founding fathers of their having been somehow on a higher level than our present political leaders.
I do not know how much time non- scholarly readers will wish to an Adams volume but there is outstanding political writing here, and aselection of his remarkable correspondence.
Just to give a taste of his language and democratic principles I quote a snippet of his Inaugural Address in 1797.

"For it is the people only that are represented. It is their power and majesty that is reflected, and only for their good, in every legitimate government, under whatever form it may appear. The existence of such a government as ours for any length of time is a full proof of a general dissemination of knowledge and virtue throughout the whole body of the people. And what object or consideration more pleasing than this can be presented to the human mind? If national pride is ever justifiable or excusable it is when it springs, not from power or riches, grandeur or glory, but from conviction of national innocence, information, and benevolence."

... Read more

16. Winter Music: Composing the North
by John Luther Adams
Hardcover: 236 Pages (2004-11-10)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$15.58
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Asin: 0819567426
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Eminent composer discusses music, culture, and the environment. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Amazon description leaves out a crucial detail
A wonderful book by a great composer and thinker. If Rick Bass were a classical composer, this is sort of book he'd produce.

One huge thing that Amazon doesn't mention: the book comes withJohn Luther Adams CD inside! So the price is really a great bargain. ... Read more

17. Memoir of the Life of John Quincy Adams
by Josiah Quincy
Paperback: 458 Pages (2010-03-21)
list price: US$36.75 -- used & new: US$20.90
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Asin: 1147706956
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This is an EXACT reproduction of a book published before 1923. This IS NOT an OCR'd book with strange characters, introduced typographical errors, and jumbled words.This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide. We appreciate your understanding of the imperfections in the preservation process, and hope you enjoy this valuable book. ... Read more

Hardcover: 349 Pages (2010-11-30)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$19.75
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Asin: 0865972842
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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The Revolutionary Writings of John Adams presents the principal shorter writings in which Adams addresses the prospect of revolution and the form of government proper to the new United States. Though one of the principal framers of the American republic and the successor to Washington as president, John Adams receives remarkably little attention among many students of the early national period. This is especially true in the case of the periods before and after the Revolution, in which the intellectual rationale for independence and republican government was given the fullest expression. The Revolutionary Writings of John Adams illustrates that it was Adams, for example, who before the Revolution wrote some of the most important documents on the nature of the British Constitution and the meaning of rights, sovereignty, representation, and obligation. And it was Adams who, once the colonies had declared independence, wrote equally important works on possible forms of government in a quest to develop a science of politics for the construction of a constitution for the proposed republic. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A principled primary source of political philosophy and enduring wisdom
Professor of Political Science C. Bradley Thompson has selected an array of principle shorter writings by an American Founding Father in The Revolutionary Writings of John Adams, an anthology of Adams' discussions of the prospect of revolution and the ideal form of government for the newly born United States. Additional documents from before the Revolution reflect upon the nature of the British Constitution and the meaning of rights, sovereignty, representation, and obligation. A principled primary source of political philosophy and enduring wisdom, especially recommended for public library and American History reference shelves. ... Read more

19. The Political Writings of John Adams
by John Adams, George W. Carey
Hardcover: 650 Pages (2001-07)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$44.95
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Asin: 0895262924
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Regnery has produced the most comprehensive one-volume collection of John Adams' political writings ever published. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Plain Adams
You MUST READ this if you liked the Jone Adams you saw in the HBO series. Although he is credieted with the funding of conservative ideology in this country, his insights and record of historical thought are important lessons for all political dispositions. My sugestion for reading - pick and choose sections when current events suggest historical underpinnings. Now go!

5-0 out of 5 stars John Adams...where's the respect?
Great book...great man.

Of all the founders, he was my favorite, and unlike Jefferson and Washington, who kept slaves because they were wealthy land owners, even though they knew it was wrong...Adams refused the "obmination" forever on principle.

He also wrote the first Constitution of the US (MA) on which ours was modeled after...

And yet, no huge building stands in DC for him...and why?

Because, he was NOT a politician...he was an honest man.

At least, that's my opinion.

Get the book, and be amazed.

4-0 out of 5 stars John Adams, Patriot Sage and the "American Burke"
Pretentious, pugnacious in his temperament, possessed of a sense of nobility, John Adams was the quintessential Yankee and the Second President of the United States. This collection of his most famous political treatises and his correspondence is most appealing.With a keen intellect, his statesmanship is penetrating and has earned him recognition as the American Burke. Adams was prescient in his understanding of human nature, recognizing that "[s]elf-interest, private avidity, ambition, and avarice, will exist in every state of society, and under every form of government. A succession of powers and persons, by frequent elections, will not lessen these passions in any case, in a governor, senator, or representative, nor will the apprehension of an approaching election restrain them from indulgence if they have the power." Reconciling a flawed nature with man's yearning for liberty was no small task, but he suggested that ordered liberty could be fortified through a mixed constitution: "The nation which will not adopt equilibrium of power must adopt a despotism. There is no alternative. Rivalries must be controlled, or they will throw all things into confusion; and there is nothing but despotism or a balance of power which can control them." Adams surmised that the great work of those statesmen at the Convention was to fortify the British inheritance which was itself a mixed constitution while giving it a strong measure of steadiness and permanence by edifice in the Constitution. In Adams' summation, the licentious nature of democracy was to be quelled by establishing a proper equilibrium with the natural aristocratic and monarchial elements. This was requisite for a free government and history demonstrated that a lack of balance sputters off into despotism. Adams was keenly aware of the fragility of the American experiment in ordered liberty, and he shunned quixotic ideologues. He was utterly cynical of Enlightenment views which held the perfectibility of mankind as tenable, and he saw innumerable odds posed against ordered liberty. It is not surprising that John Adam's political theory perhaps has been glossed over by the egalitarian-minded historians of our day, because he rejected the major ideological assumptions fueling the French Revolution. He was keenly appreciative of the Anglo-American common law tradition and the vibrant interplay of cultures that shaped the distinctively American political tradition.

"Few men will deny that there is a natural aristocracy of virtues and talents in every nation and in every part, in every city and village. Inequalities are a part of the natural history of man," avowed John Adams. In stark opposition to the heresy of equality, Adams postulated a natural aristocracy of talent that was innate to all men gathered in association. Adams realised that man would be lead by his better man, but this natural aristocracy (i.e. rule by the best) was not something to be imposed upon civil society, but was essentially meritocratic and again natural. While it is clear that Adams was no egalitarian leveler, he also favored a free economy and possessed not an iota of Hamiltonian traits. In fact, he reserved personal scorn for the man when he derided him as a "bastard brat of a Scottish peddler." Adams disdained large scale, materialistic schemes to augment a nation's wealth. And on the contrary Adams thought that fostering the personal economic independence of every citizen was necessary for the betterment of the republic.The political order was to serve the people and civil society at large, not some hodgepodge fiduciary elite of speculators and financiers. Indeed, the long-term stability of a republic weighed heavily on a secured, landed populace-in the eyes of John Adams. And that idea was not only enmeshed in the minds of southerners, but temperate New Englanders like Adams as well.

Adams was the foremost advocate of religious moors as a buttress of public stability and virtue. "Statesmen... may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand." A great measure of public virtue was deemed requisite for a free government and prosperous civil society. Adams rhetorically inquired, "Have you ever found in history one single example of a nation thoroughly corrupted, that was afterwards restored to virtue? And without virtue, there can be no political liberty."

In my estimation, studying the political theory of John Adams is requisite for serious study of the American founding. Too often shoddy partisan scholarship casts the founding era as one big standoff between those of a austere Jeffersonian or Hamiltonian persuasion. Hamilton's allies within his own party were few, and it imploded after 1800 and many in Jeffersonian camp considered its name bearer to be the compromiser. Reductionist scholarship accentuates the aforesaid personal struggle of minds and also deemphasizes the common ground the founding fathers had. Despite John Adams' influential showing during the early years of the Republic, his political thought has been overlooked especially in contrast to the cult following behind Hamilton, Madison and Jefferson. ... Read more

20. Risk
by John Adams
Paperback: 192 Pages (1995-02-01)
list price: US$41.95 -- used & new: US$32.72
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Asin: 1857280687
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Risk compensation postulates that everyone has a "risk thermostat" and that safety measures that do not affect the setting of the thermostat will be circumvented by behaviour that re-establishes the level of risk with which people were originally comfortable. It explains why, for example, motorists drive faster after a bend in the road is straightened. Cultural theory explains risk-taking behaviour by the operation of cultural filters. It postulates that behaviour is governed by the probable costs and benefits of alternative courses of action which are perceived through filters formed from all the previous incidents and associations in the risk-taker's life.; "Risk" should be of interest to many readers throughout the social sciences and in the world of industry, business, engineering, finance and public administration, since it deals with a fundamental part of human behaviour that has enormous financial and economic implications. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Should be mandatroy reading in college
John Adams is clearly one of the leading thinkers not only regarding Risk Management, but alsodecision-making where risk is involved. If you are expecting a book that limits itself to accident prevention and the purchase of insurance, you will be dilightfully suprised to find that Adams provides universal frameworks that apply to the entire universe of risk. Nor is this merely an ivory tower philosophical romp. Adams applies his frameworks to everything from the value of infant car seats to global warming to "zero accident" policiesin the workplace and does so with wit and empirical data. His conclusions are often very counterintuitive, but he provides the data to back up his conclusions, often with surprising results (for example, that mandatory infant car seats was correlated with an increase in infant deaths in auto accidents and that seat belt laws did not decrease injuries in auto accidents).

The reader cannot help but benefit from Adam's wisdom, and he will enjoy the experience as well. The book is writen so well that I finished it with sadness; I was hoping that it would go on for at least another 100 pages. Having read scores of risk related articles and books, I can attest to the rarity of this feeling--I am usually begging for the end at about page 10. It takes great ideas and a masterful pen to acheive this, and Adams has both in abundance. If you are in the risk or safety professions (or work in the political realm) this book is required reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars Challenge Your Risk Foundation
This book is a by product of a research project called "Risk and Rationality."

It represents a combination of risk compensation and cultural theory.The former posits all human beings have a risk thermostat.The latter illuminates a world of plural rationalities; it seeks to explain unresolved risks in terms of the differences in premises from which the participants argue.

It draws the following conclusions:

1. Everyone is managing risk.
2. Since we are dealing with risks, they are all guessing.
3. Their guesses are influenced by their beliefs.
4. Their behavior is influenced by their guesses.
5. Safety interventions do not influence risk propensities.
6. You will never capture "objective risk."

This book is a gem.It is well-written, counterintuitive, jargon-free and amusing.It will challenge your assumptions on risk management.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book!
This is an outstanding little book -- very insightful and thoroughly enjoyable. I am a pediatrician who has been involved with writing practice guidelines to prevent a very low probability but devastating outcome (brain damage following jaundice in newborns).The discussion of different types of people with different attitudes towards risk helped clarify some of the dynamics of the guideline committees I have been on.In fact, I liked the book so much I sent a copy to the head of the current committee working on these guidelines.

I also like it when people question dogma, and point out ways in which our previous experience and perspectives influence the way we perceive reality. For example, the possibility that use of seat belts by drivers might shift some injuries from themselves to pedestrians and cyclists had never occurred to me.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in risk.

Thomas B. Newman, MD, MPH
Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Pediatrics
University of California, San Francisco

5-0 out of 5 stars Risk CompensationTheory - How Can We Use It?
"Risk" by John Adams is one of those rare gems, a book which uncovers a nugget of truth about human behaviour, namely Risk Compensation Theory. Why do we take risks, especially on the roads, in cars, in dangerous situations? Why do some people take more risks than others? Apparently we have risk thermostats which we set to different levels of risk aversion. I saw the tv programme which covered this topic first and then I read the book by Mr. Adams. I was very impressed by the depth of research supporting his theories and by the graphs showing the different rates of fatalities for male/female drivers, for different countries or for different age groups. But I wonder: have we had too much analysis and not enough action at this stage? The trend of fatalities per 1,000 of the population or per 1,000 vehicles on the roads may be coming down in some countries but this is little consolation when the total number of deaths is staying steady or rising worldwide. 25 million have died already and perhaps another billion have been injured.It is time to try another approach.

"Autogeddon" by Heathcote Williams was a brilliant poetic diatribe on the havoc which cars can cause but it offered no solutions to the problem. "Risk" analyses in detail why we takethe risks which cause this havoc, but equally offers no complete solutions. "The Joy of Motion" by John B. Gilmore goes a step further and offers a solution to the problems of transport which allows us to take risks and enjoy the thrill of motion at the same time. If you wish to find out more about this book then please email me.

5-0 out of 5 stars as gripping as a Grisham
There are few works of nonfiction which I have been inspired to read inone sitting.Adams' _Risk_ is one of those few. It's more than merely accessible:it's fascinating.The writing is more than merely competent: it's enjoyable.Like the best Grisham novels, _Risk_ tells a tale of danger, skulduggery, bureaucracy, wrongful death, human nature, research, reasoning, the revelation and concealment of evidence, and the overturningof conventional beliefs and outcomes.

Adams opens for the lay reader a window into the jargon-laden field of riskassessment and risk management.He brings to the table two qualitiesusually firmly segregated in the literature:a solid, rationalist facilitywith the traditional tools of the trade (scientific method, mathematics,statistics, data visualization), and an honest and humane assessment ofthe incalculable and the social (human variability, social equity, adaptivefeedback, and chaotic systems).

Adams' work is brilliantly contrarian, neither eccentric nor slipshod.Hechallenges the conventional dogma of regulatory safety authorities the worldover;he cites verifiable figures from reputable sources to show that theauthoritarian approach to risk management has not lived up to its overconfidentinitial promises.Further, he documents specific cases in which this failurehas been denied and concealed, rather than admitted, confronted and used asa springboard to new approaches and more creative thinking.

Adams' particular field of expertise is road/traffic safety, which he hadstudied for some 15 years at the time of writing.He uses several examplesfrom this realm in the book.He recounts the peculiar history, for example,of mandatory seat belt legislation.Of the eighty principalities and regionswhich enacted such laws, over twenty years later only one (the UK) offerstime-series data which support the initial claims for national traffic fatalityreduction.

Yet throughout the industrial world, the axiom "seatbelts save lives" is justthat -- axiomatic.The average reader may find this story very disturbing; the beneficial result of seatbelt legislation is almost a religious dogma forresidents of the industrial West.Yet it is hard to dismiss Adams' sobercollection and presentation of data.His numbers are not from outlaw or revisionistsources;they are official statistics from the same countries whichpassed the laws.

It's obvious (and crash tests demonstrate) that seatbelt-type restraints mustprevent vehicle occupants from rattling around inside a car during a crash,and thereby mitigate injury and/or fatality.Adams asks, therefore, how itcan possibly happen that there were not sudden, dramatic, documented reductionsin total traffic fatalities for whole nations, after seatbelt laws were enforced?

In answering this and other similar questions of "safety engineering" Adams introduces us to a fascinating problem in risk management theory: "risk homeostasis" or "risk compensation".Individuals, he argues,have a personal "risk thermostat", a risk level at which they arecomfortable.If their sense of personal safety is enhanced byprotective gear (or even by public information campaigns) then theirbehaviour becomes correspondingly riskier, until the "set point" of theindividual risk thermostat is reached.

Since the risk per individual per hour of traffic injury or fatality isvery small, only a slight deviation in behaviour is necessary to raise itsignificantly.If a driver drives a little faster, brakes a little harder,corners a little more aggressively because of being strapped in securely,then this might easily negate (or more than negate) the risk reduction providedby the seatbelt itself.

In support of this theory, Adams offers the troubling increase in pedestrianand cyclist deaths that immediately followed the UK seatbelt law.If driversdrive a little more dangerously, says Adams, it makes sense that more vulnerableroad users would bear the brunt of the increased risk.

Were it not for this sincere concern for social justice, Adams might easilybe dismissed as yet another libertarian.Many a safety-legislation skeptic'sargument begins and ends with individual rights, resistance to "nanny" legislation,etc.Adams asks a tougher question:if safety means *everyone's* safety, doestraditional traffic safety engineering really work?Or does it just shuffle therisk around, making it safer to drive a car more dangerously, but imposing more risk on pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, etc?

This discussion occupies only a chapter or two of this thought-provoking book.Other chapters cover such diverse topics as:a taxonomy of personality types and their responses to risk;virtual risks versus immediate risks; and the fundamental contradictions of "cost/benefit analysis". Adams is forthright in criticizing the narrowness of the traditional highway andtraffic engineers' vision."Road safety engineers" consider their work successfulif the fatality/injury rate declines on a given stretch of road.But the fatality rate may have fallen because people gave up walking or biking in thatarea.As long as the incident rate is low, the road is deemed "safe" -- eventhough residents and locals may know very well that it is dangerous, and makelong detours to avoid it.

Adams argues convincingly that this disconnect between people's real experienceon the ground, and the abstract perceptions of planners and authorities, is aserious and intensifying problem. The ingenious adaptibility of human beingsto dangerous situations means that the engineers may be presented with falsesuccess (a dangerous road looks "safe" because of avoidance response) or withintractable riskiness (risk compensation defeating imposed engineering solutions). Many of the traditionalist solutions into which we pour millions of dollars may simply not work, and the way we measure our success may be faulty as well.

_Risk_ is an excellent introduction to the challenging work of John Franklin,Mayer Hillman, Robert Davis, and other members of the "new school" of road safety analaysis.It is a well-researched, well-written, and deeplyprovoking book._Risk_ should be *required* reading for all traffic engineers,police, safety analysts, city planners, parents, insurance company executives,and economists.For the reader with an open mind, _Risk_ will raise morequestions than it answers; it offers some really interesting new ways tothink about and discuss risk. ... Read more

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