John Adams by David McCulloughThe enthralling, often surprising story of John Adams, one of the most important and fascinating Americans who ever lived.
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 -- the colossus of independence, as Thomas Jefferson called him -- 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 moving love stories in American history.
Like his masterly, Pulitzer Prize-winning biography Truman, David McCulloughs John Adams has the sweep and vitality of a great novel. It is both a riveting portrait of an abundantly human man and a vivid evocation of his time, much of it drawn from an outstanding collection of Adams family letters and diaries. In particular, the more than one thousand surviving letters between John and Abigail Adams, nearly half of which have never been published, provide extraordinary access to their private lives and make it possible to know John Adams as no other major American of his founding era.
As he has with stunning effect in his previous books, McCullough tells the story from within -- from the point of view of the amazing eighteenth century and of those who, caught up in events, had no sure way of knowing how things would turn out. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, the British spy Edward Bancroft, Madame Lafayette and Jeffersons Paris interest Maria Cosway, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, the scandalmonger James Callender, Sally Hemings, John Marshall, Talleyrand, and Aaron Burr all figure in this panoramic chronicle, as does, importantly, John Quincy Adams, the adored son whom Adams would live to see become President.
Crucial to the story, as it was to history, is the relationship between Adams and Jefferson, born opposites -- one a Massachusetts farmers son, the other a Virginia aristocrat and slaveholder, one short and stout, the other tall and spare. Adams embraced conflict; Jefferson avoided it. Adams had great humor; Jefferson, very little. But they were alike in their devotion to their country.
At first they were ardent co-revolutionaries, then fellow diplomats and close friends. With the advent of the two political parties, they became archrivals, even enemies, in the intense struggle for the presidency in 1800, perhaps the most vicious election in history. Then, amazingly, they became friends again, and ultimately, incredibly, they died on the same day -- their day of days -- July 4, in the year 1826.
Much about John Adamss life will come as a surprise to many readers. His courageous voyage on the frigate Boston in the winter of 1778 and his later trek over the Pyrenees are exploits that few would have dared and that few readers will ever forget.
It is a life encompassing a huge arc -- Adams lived longer than any president. The story ranges from the Boston Massacre to Philadelphia in 1776 to the Versailles of Louis XVI, from Spain to Amsterdam, from the Court of St. Jamess, where Adams was the first American to stand before King George III as a representative of the new nation, to the raw, half-finished Capital by the Potomac, where Adams was the first President to occupy the White House.
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.
What's Wrong with HBO's Dramatization of John Adams's Story
Stern is now completing his doctorate in the department of history, Princeton University; his dissertation is tentatively entitled, "The Overflowings of Liberty": Practical Politics, Political Ideas and the Townshend Crisis in Massachusetts, It was a curious admonition for the screenwriters to include, for the HBO series itself does, consistently and often egregiously, exactly what Adams is shown warning against. Such a change is not unreasonable in a dramatization. Some degree of compression and alteration is, of course, unavoidable in any dramatization: history is too complex to be rendered literally on film. Fictional motivations and incidents are created as if historical actors were fictional characters, to be defined and depicted in whatever manner best suits the script. Yet historical dramas, as Adams might have said, should not delude posterity with fictions under the guise of poetical, graphical or cinematic license.
The starry cast boasts several theatre veterans. Based on David McCullough's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, "John Adams," press notes state, is "told through the eyes of Adams and his wife Abigail [and] taps into the uncertainty and intensity surrounding the birth of the American republic and its first 50 years. The miniseries presents an intimate portrait of a man who played a major role in forming the American nation, though few Americans are familiar with the story. A farmer and a lawyer, Adams struggled to find the delicate balance between his love for his wife and family and his passion for his country as he rose to be a leader of the American independence movement. He was the driving force in uniting the colonies in their decision to declare independence from Great Britain, paving the way for his role as one of America's founding fathers. The miniseries was produced by David Coatsworth and Steven Shareshian. Part 2, "Independence," debuts March 16 at PM.
Movies in Theaters
For fans of HBO miniseries and curious students of history, I would suggest viewing the seven-episode series John Adams. There are many sources available to watch John Adams online. For legitimate purposes, HBO has made available the John Adams series online through the official site. I can not condone it but must admit that there are other sources available to watch John Adams online free. Since its debut in , the John Adams HBO series has set a record for awards presented to a miniseries. Don't miss out!