So this was a book I was way, way excited about reading. I have heard nothing but absolutely raving reviews of it AND it was already on our shelf… one of the few books that Shaun contributed when we merged our bookshelves. It is huge and thick so I decided to “assign” myself 40 pages a day to read to make sure that I got through it by the end of the month. Turns out I didn’t even need to do that. I frigging loved this book.
When I decided to do the Presidential Challenge my real idea was to see our country’s history through the lens of the men that have led us. I wanted to get to know the men, not just these faces that we see every year of grade school. This book fit that to an absolute tee.
The thing that I really, really respected was that this is a history book written for readers. Facts/figures/ideas that could have been presented really cut & dry were elaborated on in a way that made me want to keep reading. Through reading tons and tons of letters to and from the Adamses, David McCullough was able to put together a really full picture of who John and Abigail were and what their motivations were.
A lot of time was spent developing the relationships that really changed the course of John Adams’ life, namely his relationships with his wife Abigail and his BFF/frenemy Thomas Jefferson. Both of these relationships were fleshed out so perfectly that I was kind of punched in the gut when Abigail died and literally moved to tears when Thomas Jefferson and John Adams rekindled their friendship late in life and then died on the same day. *Sob*
As far as the history/politics, I learned so much that I felt kind of “filled up” at the end. While John Adams was in France and England during most of the Revolution, there was this incredible picture of the state of the country at that time and how this relatively small group of men made a series of decisions that shaped (and are still shaping) the way of an entire country. There was a major focus on 1776 and John Adams’ direct effect on the Declaration. It made me really, really want to read 1776 by the same author. I may save that until after my challenge is over, but I really cannot wait.
I was also pleased as punch to learn that Ben Franklin was kind of a prick in his old age. Love it.
I cannot even find anything bad to say about this book. I am head-over-heels in love with it. Several mornings I sat in bed and read it outloud to Isaac. I’m happy to report that he loved it. He sat for 30 or 40 minutes of a time listening to me go on and on about our second president. It’s that good.