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Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams
     

Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams

4.9 9
by Joseph J. Ellis
 

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Passionate Sage is [Ellis’s] best book.”—Judith Shulevitz, The New York Times Book Review 

A fresh look at this astute, likably quirky statesman, by the author of the Pulitzer Award-winning Founding Brothers and the National Book Award winning American Sphinx. "The most lovable and most laughable

Overview

Passionate Sage is [Ellis’s] best book.”—Judith Shulevitz, The New York Times Book Review 

A fresh look at this astute, likably quirky statesman, by the author of the Pulitzer Award-winning Founding Brothers and the National Book Award winning American Sphinx. "The most lovable and most laughable, the warmest and possibly the wisest of the founding fathers, John Adams knew himself as few men do and preserved his knowledge in a voluminous correspondence that still resonates. Ellis has used it with great skill and perception not only to bring us the man, warts and all, but more importantly to reveal his extraordinary insights into the problems confronting the founders that resonate today in the republic they created."—Edmund S. Morgan, Sterling Professor of History Emeritus, Yale University.

Editorial Reviews

Judith Shulevitz
His best book. . . . Ellis's knack for bringing historical figures to life seems to natural you can't imagine him doing anything else. —The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Decreeing our second president the ``most misconstrued and underappreciated `great man' in American history,'' Ellis, a history professor at Mount Holyoke College, sets out to recover the Adams legacy obscured by the ``triumph of liberalism.'' His notable study focuses on Adams (1735-1826) in retirement in Quincy, Mass., starting in 1801. Drawing on Adams's correspondence, his journalism and his marginalia in the books he read, Ellis shows the one-term president during his first 12 years of private life fulminating over the country's direction, then mellowing. But Adams would remain oppositional and tart: ``Was there ever a Coup de Theatre that had so great an effect as Jefferson's penmanship of the Declaration of Independence?'' Ellis argues that Adams, incapable of political self-protection and with an insufferable personal integrity, internalized what he viewed as the nation's failings--ambition, lust for distinction, etc.--and struggled to keep a check on such qualities within himself. He and Jefferson differed fundamentally on the meaning of the American Revolution; their disagreement, according to Ellis, was not about means but about ends: Jefferson made ``a religion of the people,'' Adams proposed that democratization should be evolutionary. Photos. (May)
Library Journal
Of all the brilliant cast of characters who brought the United States into being, none is more noteworthy or more controversial than John Adams. In this biography, Ellis (history, Mount Holyoke) focuses on the last part of Adams's life in an attempt to dissect and illuminate the contradictory nature of this great man. In this detailed yet readable account, the reader is told that ``Adams did not just read books. He battled them.'' One of his favorite authors was Bolingbroke, but he considered Voltaire a ``liar.'' A man like Adams is heard loudly through the centuries; collections of his letters will always be invaluable, but Ellis's work is an appropriate and well-researched adjunct to the original sources. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries.-- Katherine Gillen, Mesa P.L., Ariz.
The New York Times
Impassioned and erudite. . . . A captivating portrait of this Massachusetts native as a wonderfully contrary genius possessed of an uncommon moral intelligence and farsighted political wisdom.— Michiko Kakutani
Wall Street Journal
The best portrait of a Revolutionary-era statesman.— Evan Thomas
Michiko Kakutani - The New York Times
“Impassioned and erudite. . . . A captivating portrait of this Massachusetts native as a wonderfully contrary genius possessed of an uncommon moral intelligence and farsighted political wisdom.”
Evan Thomas - Wall Street Journal
“The best portrait of a Revolutionary-era statesman.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393068276
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
02/14/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
572,788
File size:
1 MB

Meet the Author

Joseph J. Ellis is Ford Foundation Professor of History at Mount Holyoke College and author of the National Book Award-winning American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Founding Brothers, and Passionate Sage.

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Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I only wish all history books were as well written as this. The greatest compliment I can offer, is that this book turned me into a history buff. I strongly recommend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book paints a wonderfully-intimate portrait of John Adams as a geniune human being. Ellis avoids the idolatry that many historians seem to fall victim to when writing about the 'Founding Fathers' in portraying Adams as an important and unique member of these leading Americans while also preserving the humanity of his character. I've read many historical biographies, and this one stands out as one of the best.
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