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John Adams Essays

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David McCullough. John Adams. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001. 656 pp.
David McCullough was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1933, and educated at Yale where he graduated with honors in English literature. McCullough lives in West Tisbury, Massachusetts with his wife, Rosalee Barnes McCullough. They have five children and fifteen grandchildren. He is the author of Truman, Brave Companions, Mornings on Horseback, The Path Between the Seas, The Great Bridge, and the Johnstown Flood. He has received the Pulitzer Prize (in 1993, for Truman), the Francis Parkman Prize, (this award promotes literary distinction in historical writing, and is presented annually for the best book in American history). He has also won the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and is twice winner of the National Book award, for history and biography. McCullough has lectured in all parts of the country and abroad, as well as at the White House, as part of the White House presidential lecture series. He is also one of few private citizens to be asked to speak before a joint session of Congress. David McCullough has been an editor, essayist, teacher, lecturer, and familiar presence on public television- as host of Smithsonian World, The American Experience, and numerous documentaries including The Civil War and Napoleon.
John Adams is a biography about the second president of the United States. McCullough originally set out to write a dual biography of Adams and Jefferson. David McCullough has successfully incorporated the life of Thomas Jefferson into this biography. The idea was to explore their interlocking lives and careers. The two men first met as fellow patriots united in the cause of independence in the mid-1770s. As fellow diplomats in Europe in the 1780s they became close friends. In the 1790s they became political rivals and didn’t speak to each other for more than ten years. They reconciled in their retirement years, and then launched into one of the great exchanges of letters in American history. They died on the same day- July 4th, 1826, fifty years after the Declaration of Independence. Though this began as a dual biography it quickly became an Adams biography. McCullough realized that after a year and one half of research that Adams was in every respect a more fully developed, three-dimensional, warm-blooded, and compelling character than Jefferson. McCullough wants his ...


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...ams’s. I learned so much about the relationship between Abigail and John Adams. Their life together was a true love story. I also learned the contrasts between Adams and Jefferson. Jefferson was tall, lean, and youthful. Adams was short, stout, and eight years Jefferson’s senior. Adams kept no record of accounts, Jefferson, on the other hand, kept meticulous records, but the greatest difference between them was that Jefferson avoided conflict. He could not bring himself to argue with anyone, ever. In contrast, Adams embraced difficulty, conflict, and struggle. After reading this book I came away with a better understanding of the civil war, slavery, and other crucial issues facing America at that time. John Adams has given me an insatiable appetite to learn more about our founding fathers, I feel that I can never know enough about them. This was an absolutely fascinating book to read. I loved it! For me this was the history lesson that I needed. I enjoyed this book from a plain readers point of view; moreover I enjoyed the history lesson in rare form. David McCullough’s John Adams was, by far, the best written and most interesting book that I have ever read.




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