John Adams

John Adams by McCullough, David

For some reason, I could not get into this book. Even though John Adams kept a detailed diary, I had trouble relating to him. He was not playful like Franklin, distinguished like Washington, or prolific like Hamilton. He was a straight shooter - unendingly devoted to his wife, Abigail, and consistently grinding away at the things he believed in.

His accomplishments also seemed somewhat less significant than other revolutionaries. He defended the British soldiers of the Boston massacre, negotiated a loan from Holland during the American revolution, served as a diplomat to France and England, and along with Jefferson and Franklin, helped negotiate peace with the British.

Perhaps his most significant achievement was as the second president of the United States. In a stubborn commitment to his personal values and beliefs, Adams went against the advice of his cabinet, and helped prevent America from getting pulled into the European wars that were happening at the time.

The themes of his life seem to be:

* Integrity

* Hard work

* Love of country

* Devotion to family (although he was away from them for long stretches at a time)

* Deep interest in everything - farming / philosophy / law / politics / history / medicine

There is no doubt that John Adams was exceptionally brilliant. I still do not understand how he, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, etc. were able to read and write such a huge volume of words throughout their careers.

Nonetheless, this book left me a bit underwhelmed.

Rating: 3/5

Date read: 11/28/2010