Friday, August 27, 2010
In high school the only fact I learned about John Adams was his distasteful passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts. According to David McCullough, he did lots of other things, like defending the British soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre. Adams was for independence from Britain, but could not abide anyone going without representation at trial. Adams also was the major voice for independence in the Congress, and won many over to the Revolutionary spirit with his oratory.
The second president is an interesting cat. I really enjoyed McCullough's portrait of the young, restless Adams, whose persuits were too diverse and unfocused for his own liking. He often complained about reading too little and not getting enough work done and thinking of girls too much. Strange how a man with such a low opinion of his own ambition could have achieved so much in 90 years.
Adams died on the 4th of July on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. He outlived his great friend and erstwhile foe Thomas Jefferson by about 6 hours. McCullough is excellent on Adams and Jefferson and their complex relationship. I'd recommend Joesph J. Ellis' Founding Brothers as well.
I recommend John Adams to you. I listened to on CD in the car--the first time I've ever listened to an audio book. I wish McCullough had read it, because I love his narrations on PBS. Now, I shall get the mini-series from Netflix.