Picks and Pans Review: John Adams

UPDATED 06/25/2001 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 06/25/2001 at 01:00 AM EDT

by David McCullough

Independence tore households—as well as nations—apart. As he toiled at the Continental Congress, delegate John Adams was agonized by the long separations from his family. He neared physical and emotional collapse in Philadelphia, while his wife, Abigail, and their children endured the sound of cannon fire and the devastation of smallpox at home outside Boston. Sticking close to the diaries and letters of his principals, Pulitzer Prize winner McCullough resists the biographer's temptation to make up dialogue. Instead, he points out history's quirky gaps: The final ratification of the Declaration of Independence was all but ignored in the newspapers of the day.

The Revolution cost Adams his close friendship with Thomas Jefferson, who considered him insufficiently radical. After serving as Adams's vice president, Jefferson defeated him in the race for Commander in Chief. The tension between them is just one of many great historical dramas played out in McCullough's engaging and thorough account. (Simon & Schuster, $35)

Bottom Line: Warm look at the Adams family

Your Reaction

Follow Us

On Newsstands Now

Robin Roberts: How Loved Saved Me
  • Robin Roberts: How Loved Saved Me
  • Emma and Andrew: All About Hollywood's Cutest Couple
  • Prince George! More Yummy Photos

Pick up your copy on newsstands

Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine


From Our Partners

Watch It

Editors' Picks

From Our Partners

Sign up for our daily newsletter and other special offers.
    Choose your newsletters
Thank you for signing up! Your request may take up to one week to be processed.
    see all newsletters