John Adams Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Pulitzer Prize, Biography/Autobiography, 2002In this powerful, epic biography, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian 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. Adams thought, wrote, and spoke out for the "Great Cause" come what might; he traveled far and wide in all seasons and often at extreme risk; he rose to become the second president of the United States and saved the country from blundering into an unnecessary war; he was rightly celebrated for his integrity, and regarded by some as "out of his senses"; and his marriage to the wise and valiant Abigail Adams is one of the most moving love stories in American history.
Much about Adams' life will come as a surprise to many. His rocky relationship with friend and eventual archrival Thomas Jefferson, his courageous voyage on the frigate Boston in the winter of 1778, and his later trek over the Pyrenees are exploits few would have dared and that few listeners will ever forget.
McCullough's John Adams has the sweep and vitality of a great novel. This is history on a grand scale, an audiobook about politics, 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, it is an enthralling, often surprising story of one of the most important and fascinating Americans who ever lived.
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|Listening Length||29 hours and 54 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||November 16, 2005|
|Publisher||Simon & Schuster Audio|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #2,396 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#1 in United States Colonial History
#3 in U.S. Colonial Period History
#7 in US Revolution & Founding History (Audible Books & Originals)
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As McCullough's writes in the introduction, "John Adams was a lawyer and a farmer, a graduate of Harvard College, the husband of Abigail Smith Adams, the father of four children. He was forty years old and he was a revolutionary." Why was that so? The biography reveals a man passionate about virtue and liberty, a man who would never give up the fight, and a man who was the real driver of independence. When people think of the fight for independence, they naturally bring to mind Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin - but it was Adams who was the driving force.
I am also glad that I read this book because I was able to see where the truth of Adam's life has been sacrificed for the drama of the TV series: the Hollywood version of history is just as active on America's own as well as the rest of the world's! For example, in the first episode I learn that Captain Preston was actually tried separately from his men, and of the eight soldiers, two were found guilty of manslaughter.
But there are also scenes that should have been in the series but which did not make it, scenes such as Franklin and Adams sharing a bed and arguing over whether the window should be open or closed. David McCullough's clear and highly-readable prose also covers much of the important but undramatic work of Adams, including his drafting of the constitution of his home state, Massachusetts, written whilst back home between time spent as ambassador to Holland and France.It is "the oldest, functioning written constitution in the world."
Much of the series played on Adams's relationship with his wife, and I was glad to see how true it was that they were a meeting of minds in so many ways and had a long and happy marriage, supporting each other and their children, although Adams himself had such high ideals that he was a difficult father to please.
The end came dramatically, like Beethoven, with a thunderstorm. And I still cannot get over how he died on the same day as Thomas Jefferson - and they both died on the fiftieth Fourth of July since independence! How amazing is that?
This is an exceptionally superb biography, one reason from many is that the author paints his scenes with such an abundance of detail that you really feel you are there, and can hear their voices. Just from memory I can now see Adams watching slaves at the new White House with a heaviness in his heart; I can still feel the joy the whole family experienced when John Quincey returned from Russia; or the satisfaction felt by Benjamin Rush when Adams and Jefferson start to correspond again.
So it is much more than just a political biography. This is a work of art, taking us into all that was going in and around the Adams family. And as with all good art while there is no polemic, nevertheless it is impossible not to draw some moral lessons from the lives as they are drawn on the author's canvas.
This is especially true with the contrast between Jefferson and Adams. Adams the hard-working farmer, the faithful husband of Abigail, cautious with money who died with an estate to pass on; Jefferson the extravagant land-owning aristocrat, suspected of having an affair, who died in debt. Adams the enemy of slavery; Jefferson the owner of slaves. And when he died, those slaves had to be sold because of his debts.
It is never stated, but there is no doubt which man the author - with good reason - admires more.
Stubborn, irascible, a man of letters, and a workaholic for the American cause, Adams was tailor made for historical biography. In McCullough, we have one of the few biographers who can do such a titan, justice.
Historiography has long been fraught with perils and pitfalls, and what a biographer includes is just as important as what they omit. Given that Adams wrote reams of correspondence over his lifetime, its too McCullough's credit that he has presented a coherent, powerful narrative, that reads more like a historical thriller, rather than a dry, academic text.
But then again, the best historians are usually great novelists, and this biography is a worthy addition to the canon of historical biography.