JOHN ADAMS: A LIFE
by John Ferling
ISBN 978-0-945707-14-1 $35.00
535 pages including notes, bibliography, index, and illustrations.
John Ferling's is another impressive biography that
contributes to the rehabilitation of John Adams, a process that began in
the 1950's. The major cause for the change has been the availability
of the massive collection of Adams papers. Robert Rutland, the editor of
the Madison papers, concluded that, while Jefferson was a more attractive
personality and Franklin a more versatile genius, "Adams is the most captivating
founding father on most counts."
Despite his ascendance within the scholarly world, however,
the broader public awareness of Adams' contributions remains faint and murky.
He is still often confused with his cousin Sam Adams. And as he himself
predicted, no major monuments or memorials have been erected in his honor
either in the nation's capitol or his home state of Massachusetts. There
is something about him that seems to resist enshrinement.
John Ferling's biography enhances our scholarly appreciation
of Adams as a man who deserves his own monument... Ferling has produced
a comprehensive life-and-times narrative that pursues Adams from his modest
origins in Braintree in 1735, through Harvard and the formative years as
a school teacher at Worcester, on to his budding career as a lawyer in Boston,
and then into the center of the American Revolution; the trail continues with
diplomatic service in France and England in the 1780's, the vice-presidency
and presidency in the 1790's, and finally loops back to Quincy, where Adams
enjoyed a quarter-century of pugnacious mediation before his charmed death,
along with Jefferson on the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.