This comprehensive biography of Abigail Adams, wife of the second President, focuses on Adams's role as wife and mother, as well as on her reputation as "the first feminist in America." As is probably not surprising in a biography of a colonial woman, Adams's life is described primarily in relation to her more public husband, sons and other male relatives. Details of fashion, correspondence and family squabbles are also included, and these, as well as accounts of the all-too-common deaths of infants and children, give readers a sense of the domestic realities and tragedies of women's lives. A closing chapter entitled "The Legacy of Abigail Adams" puts her life in perspective. Sidebars provide definitions and historical context, and endnotes, a glossary, a chronology, an index and suggestions for further reading (including Internet sites) will aid in research. Readers desiring to read the biography straight through, though, might be disappointed at the scarcity of illustrations; although black and white reproductions of most of the major players are included, the only illustration in the book of Adams herself is the same one that appears on the book's cover. Inclusion of additional maps or drawings from the era could greatly enhance the biography's readability. This book is part of the "Historical American Biographies" series. 2002, Enslow, $20.95. Ages 9 to 12. Reviewer: Norah Piehl
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8 This serviceable biography covers the significant events in this First Lady's life, focusing primarily on her relationships with her husband and her children. McCarthy quotes frequently from the subject's many letters and her words are often enlightening. Unfortunately, the author's prose is rather dry and workmanlike. In addition, the sidebars are often not directly related to Adams's story and are distracting rather than illuminating. Numerous subheadings, maps, and black-and-white reproductions break up the text. Natalie S. Bober's Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution (Atheneum, 1995) and Angela Osborne's Abigail Adams: Women's Rights Advocate (Chelsea, 1989) are better choices. -Janice Greenberg, formerly at Brooklyn Public Library, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.