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No surprise here: a biographer thinks his subject unjustly forgotten and underrated. Samuel Adams, better known now as a beer brand than as the American revolutionary leader he was, is not in the first tier of Founding Fathers. Stoll (managing editor, New York Sun) argues for Adams's key role. He's not wrong. Massachusetts, the hothouse of the Revolution, was the site of the best-remembered moments of rebellion: the Boston Massacre, the Tea Party, Paul Revere's Ride, "the shots heard round the world." Adams had a hand in all, then helped declare independence from England and managed the war that followed. In Massachusetts, he helped write the commonwealth's constitution, which was a model for the U.S. Constitution, then topped his career by succeeding John Hancock as governor in 1793. It's a good story. Stoll has mined primary sources, but his excessive fondness for quoting makes the narrative sag in places, and overall he doesn't convey deep expertise with the 18th century. There are lots of Samuel Adams bios-three others since 1997-and this one is worthy, but optional, for public libraries that don't own one of the others.
—Michael O. Eshleman