Thursday, December 01, 2016

John Adams by David McCullough

So I've had this book sitting on my shelf for a number of years, but just haven't gotten around to reading it.  As everyone probably realizes, I adore John Adams.  But I just hadn't gotten to this one....then I found the unabridged audio CD at my local used bookstore (I love bookstores...who would have guessed it?).  I've been commuting twice a week to Anchorage so I've had a lot of time to fill and so I decided to listen to this one.  I was very impressed with the experience, although I do have a few comments about the experience before I talk about the book itself.  First, so this book starts with some "action," like many books and then goes back to start at the beginning of Adams' life.  Reading it, I wouldn't have even noticed it, but I was pretty much going "what" until the book went back to the "start."  The other thing it does it this really means unabridged...so they read the quotes on the section pages and that was a bit confusing as well at times.  I also don't like that I couldn't look up the footnotes, but that's the historian in me. And I do have the book, so I could look up any I really wanted to, but that would be an issue for me if I only had the audio.  I wanted the footnotes, too.  (Well, endnotes, but no one publishes footnotes anymore...phooey.) But that's really on my comments - I thought the narrator did an excellent job and the quality was excellent of the CDs. 

Now the material itself....the author obviously likes Adams, which isn't surprising and given that I adore him, that works for me.   This spends a LOT of time on Jefferson, which while I get as part of Adams' life, I felt was a bit overdone at times. Now, at the same time, the author seems to agree with me that Adams is better than Jefferson (sorry, but you all knew I thought this!), but at times I think there could have been less Jefferson. But if you want some Jefferson, there is plenty here.  I would have rather had more Abigail time.  I did like how the author used the Jefferson/Adams correspondence as a way to deal with his time in retirement, though. 

I also think that there was more focus on earlier in Adams' life than the presidency and I would have liked a little more on the presidency, including more on Abigail's contributions here.  I actually felt like there was too much on vice presidency by comparison. 

But honestly, this is a great book, well written and researched and do great justice to the life of John Adams.  I also really enjoyed the experience of listening to it on audio and hope to find some more to listen to!  (I've been listening to a lot of Hardcore History, but most of that isn't American so not really fodder for here.)

**Side note...the front of the audio talks about the miniseries....I started that....couldn't get even through the first DVD before I shut it off in annoyance.**

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