09 November 2005

John Adams

"Posterity who are to reap the blessings will scarcely be able to conceive the hardships and sufferings of their ancestors." ~Abigail Adams to John Adams during the American Revolution

I just finished John Adams by David McCullough and I enjoyed it very much. John Adams is one of the most overlooked men from the early days of our country and it was good to learn more about him in a thorough biography instead of just reading about bits and pieces of his life in other history sources. He led a fascinating life. I also liked reading more about Abigail Adams and I'd love to read a biography focused on her.

John Adams did far more than most of us give him credit. He played a crucial role in creation of the Declaration of Independence and also was instrumental in Europe during the Revolutionary War. He was committed to peace at a time when war could have been disastrous. He was completely devoted to his country and worried that his efforts would be forgotten- and they have been. The Alien and Sedition Acts, the XYZ Affair, and other things, some of which were entirely not his fault, seemed to have tainted him. I remember when this biography came out a few years ago that people said Adams would replace Jefferson in our affections. I don't know that has happened, but Adams should at least be considered Jefferson's equal, even though the two were entirely different.

My only complaint with the book is the focus on Thomas Jefferson. It seemed that every time we heard something negative about Adams, there was something negative about Jefferson. It often didn't help me understand Adams better; it seemed to be an attempt to bring Jefferson down. I won't argue that Jefferson perfect, but I'd prefer to read about Jefferson in his own biography where I could get the whole picture instead of having Adams and Jefferson consistently compared. This wasn't the right setting for the comparison in my mind.

There is one problem though- this is the last non-fiction book I have here. I made the huge mistake of bringing more fiction. I love fiction, but I always need non-fiction. I am hoping the little Embassy book exchange has some worthwhile non-fiction.


  1. I really enjoyed John Adams as well. Let me know if you want the SWK CD--it actually has several bios on it, including the one of Camilla.

  2. I read the Abigail Adams "Those Who Love" book a few years back and really enjoyed it. Such a lifetime of sacrifice for their country, very impressive.