The Adams Women: Abigail and Louisa Adams, Their Sisters and Daughters

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The New York Times Book Review called Paul Nagel's highly acclaimed Descent from Glory "magnificent;" The Christian Science Monitor proclaimed it "splendid." While that book focused on the men in the Adams family, many readers--and Nagel himself--felt that the story of the women represented the more compelling and stirring part of the Adams family saga. Now we have the book so many readers have urged Nagel to write: the full story of some of the most fascinating, important, and articulate women in American ...
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Overview


The New York Times Book Review called Paul Nagel's highly acclaimed Descent from Glory "magnificent;" The Christian Science Monitor proclaimed it "splendid." While that book focused on the men in the Adams family, many readers--and Nagel himself--felt that the story of the women represented the more compelling and stirring part of the Adams family saga. Now we have the book so many readers have urged Nagel to write: the full story of some of the most fascinating, important, and articulate women in American history. Nagel does not treat this volume as merely a sequel to the first book; he, instead, strives to do justice to an extraordinary group of individuals who happened to be women and whose personal stories and outlooks have historically played a subordinate role to the lives of the famous men who surrounded them.
Nagel presents three generations of remarkable women, including Abigail Adams, who achieved fame and recognition as a First Lady and as America's outstanding woman letter writer; her younger sister--also a writer--Elizabeth Shaw Peabody; Nabby Adams Smith, Abigail's daughter, who found herself caught between a domineering mother, a rascal husband, and a distracted father; Louisa Catherine Adams, John Quincy's wife, who ultimately triumphed over family difficulties, including Abigail's disapproval, to become the Adams matriarch and heroine of their story; Abby Brown Brooks, Boston's richest young lady as well as Henry Adams' mother; and Nancy Harrod and Mary Hellen, who struggled to survive marriage to alcoholics.
Using the abundant commentary and confessions these women shared with one another, much of it surviving in the Adams Papers, Nagel portrays his subjects as they saw themselves and each other. No other American historical record offers such a degree of frankness and detail. Nagel reveals the joy, sorrow, dreariness, and peril which came to them, as it did to all women of that era. This intimate and candid portrait, thus, stands as one of the best records of how American women actually lived and thought between 1750 and 1850.

No other American historical record offers such a degree of frankness and detail.

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Editorial Reviews

The Village Voice
Nagel's research is assiduous, his prose fluid and compelling.
The Boston Globe
Splendid...[an] admirably, often eloquently, written book.
From the Publisher

"Nagel's The Adams Women is as fine as his Descent from Glory, which is high praise indeed.... A sensitive evocation of the lives of the Adams women. It is sympathetic to these women, but not sentimental. It is written with great clarity and care. All in all, it is deeply informative and a pleasure to read."--Robert Middlekauff, author of The Glorious Cause, and Director of The Huntington Library

"A sensitive evocation of the lives of the Adams women....Deeply informative and a pleasure to read."--Robert Middlekauff, director of The Huntington Library

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195059205
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 5/25/1989
  • Pages: 324
  • Product dimensions: 5.38 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Author:
Paul C. Nagel is Distinguished Lee Scholar for the R. E. Lee Memorial Association. Formerly Director of the Virginia Historical Society, he is the author of many books, including Descent from Glory.

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