Friday, July 01, 2005

John Adams

David McCullough

John Adams is a sweeping epic, often cinematic in its lively sense of everyday detail, that moves at a wonderful pace from Adams's earliest days in Massachusetts as a country lawyer to the halcyon days of American Revolution; the enormous work of diplomacy in Paris, The Hague, and London; the earliest years of government in the fledgling Republic in both New York and Washington; and the establishment of the large Adams clan, whose own lives were to become so interwoven in the fabric of the young nation.

This is an astounding, remarkable, book. Not just for the life of Adams, but the whole sweep of that incredible time. What giants there were on the scene in those days. I'd almost despair to consider the contrast with today. The flimsy, simplistic leaders of today come nowhere near the stature of Adams and his contemporaries. And the current President and his father have the temerity to nickname W as "Quincy," since John Adams and John Quincy Adams were likewise father-and-son presidents. But Quincy had been a diplomat, a scholar, a professor at Harvard, not the owner of a baseball team.

But I think John Adams would not despair - he would return to his classics, he would exult in all the many reasons he remained thankful. He remains an excellent model for us all.