|Author:||Ellis, Joseph J.|
|Publisher:||Random House Inc|
|Publish Date:||Oct 2010|
|Number of Pages:||299|
|Shipping Weight (in pounds):||1.34|
|Product in Inches (L x W x H):||6.58 x 1.23 x 9.65|
The story of Abigail and John Adams has been told before, and there is little that is new in this biography. However, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ellis's (history, Mount Holyoke Coll.; Abigail Adams) narrative style and actress/narrator Kimberly Farr's warm, sympathetic reading make this a very listenable audio experience. Farr ostensibly becomes Abigail as she reads her letters, and she successfully projects John's longing for Abigail into her reading of his own letters. This popular biography is an easy introduction to the Adamses and their political life that even readers/listeners of other Adams biographies are sure to enjoy.
- Juleigh Muirhead Clark, Colonial Williamsburg Fdn. Lib., VA
(c). Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
On the heels of Woody Holton's prize-winning Abigail Adams, renowned historian Ellis (history, Mount Holyoke Coll.) returns to the well-trod ground of the founding era, this time shifting his focus to America's "first family" and political dynasty, the Adamses. Bringing his talents for narrative writing to the task, Ellis recounts the compelling relationship that included an awkward courtship and a life of sacrifice along with raising a family and constructing a legacy.
However, here-unlike in Edith B. Gelles's Abigail & John: Portrait of a Marriage and G.J. Barker-Benfield's forthcoming Abigail & John Adams: The Americanization of Sensibility (based on advance information)-Abigail is frequently relegated to the sidelines as the narrative becomes yet another biography of John. And there is nothing new here.
Verdict: Lacking the intellectual depth of Ellis's previous American Sphinx and the originality of his Founding Brothers, his new book nevertheless imparts a poignant tale. Biography buffs who haven't yet read about John and Abigail may well enjoy this; those familiar with the subject have no need for it.
-Brian Odom, Pelham P.L., AL
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
The Pulitzer Prize–winning, best-selling author of Founding Brothers and His Excellency brings America’s preeminent first couple to life in a moving and illuminating narrative that sweeps through the American Revolution and the republic’s tenuous early years.
John and Abigail Adams left an indelible and remarkably preserved portrait of their lives together in their personal correspondence: both Adamses were prolific letter writers (although John conceded that Abigail was clearly the more gifted of the two), and over the years they exchanged more than twelve hundred letters. Joseph J. Ellis distills this unprecedented and unsurpassed record to give us an account both intimate and panoramic; part biography, part political history, and part love story.
Ellis describes the first meeting between the two as inauspicious—John was twenty-four, Abigail just fifteen, and each was entirely unimpressed with the other. But they soon began a passionate correspondence that resulted in their marriage five years later.
Over the next decades, the couple were separated nearly as much as they were together. John’s political career took him first to Philadelphia, where he became the boldest advocate for the measures that would lead to the Declaration of Independence. Yet in order to attend the Second Continental Congress, he left his wife and children in the middle of the war zone that had by then engulfed Massachusetts. Later he was sent to Paris, where he served as a minister to the court of France alongside Benjamin Franklin. These years apart stressed the Adamses’ union almost beyond what it could bear: Abigail grew lonely, while the Adams children suffered from their father’s absence.
John was elected the nation’s first vice president, but by the time of his reelection, Abigail’s health prevented her from joining him in Philadelphia, the interim capital. She no doubt had further reservations about moving to the swamp on the Potomac when John became president, although this time he persuaded her. President Adams inherited a weak and bitterly divided country from George Washington. The political situation was perilous at best, and he needed his closest advisor by his side: “I can do nothing,” John told Abigail after his election, “without you.”
In Ellis’s rich and striking new history, John and Abigail’s relationship unfolds in the context of America’s birth as a nation.