John Adams by David McCullough

john adams

John Adams
David McCullough
Read by Edward Herrmann
Simon & Schuster, 2001
ISBN: 0-7435-7242-4
FORMAT: Audio Book, Biography
AGES: High School, Adult
4 Stars

This is a biography of one of the founders of the United States. It goes into detail about who John Adams was and what his role in the making of a nation. It doesn’t hide his faults and his temperament. But neither does it hide his love for Abigail and his ultimate determination to preserve the rights and liberties of the American people.

I enjoyed this audio book. The text was informative without being dry and dull. In fact, I looked forward to learning about the historical events that surrounded John Adams’ life. And I especially looked forward to hearing what Abigail Adams had to say in her letters. The fact that there were so many details given from letters or journals or other primary sources was pleasing. I appreciated the idea that I actually was listening to what John Adams or those around him actually thought or said. And after listening to this book I seriously feel like I have learned so much about someone I thought I knew about from my studies in high school and college history classes. But really, if all the history texts were written by David McCullough, I just might have to go back and take an extra history class or two at my alma matter. Good thing I can just check out more McCullough books from my library…

And let’s not forget that this was an audio book. Edward Herrmann did a fantastic job of reading the text and getting me excited about listening to law cases or the overwhelming responsibilities that came with becoming the second president of the United States. And I enjoyed how in between the various chapters some information was read by a female voice. That helped me as a listener to understand why the focus of the story would skip a few years (those years being described in the text read by the female voice). When the music came on at the end of the book (signalling that my time with the book was almost over…just before it gives the “the end” and credit bits) I seriously thought about starting the last disc over again so I wouldn’t be finished with it just yet. But…such is the instinct with a good audio. Lovely.

Book Discussion Questions:
What did you know of John Adams before you read this book? Did the book change your insight of this man?
Compare the life of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. How were they similar, different?
Discuss the relationship that John and Abagail had. What were some of their struggles? What made them happiest?
It was said that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were the thinkers of the nation. What does that mean? Do you agree?
Adams mentioned that Jefferson’s letters were worth publishing? From the small bits that were included, do you agree?
This book has a significant amount of information from Adams’ letters. Were his letters worth publishing as well?

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