Fred Kaplan, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Lincoln, returns with John Quincy Adams, an illuminating biography of one of the most overlooked presidents in American history - a leader of sweeping perspective whose progressive values helped shape the course of the nation. In this fresh and lively biography rich in literary analysis and new historical detail, Fred Kaplan brings into focus the dramatic life of John Quincy Adams - the little known and much misunderstood sixth president of the United States and the first son of John and Abigail Adams - and persuasively demonstrates how Adams's inspiring, progressive vision guided his life and helped shape the course of America.
Kaplan draws on a trove of unpublished archival material to trace Adams's evolution from his childhood during the Revolutionary War to his brilliant years as Secretary of State to his time in the White House and beyond. He examines Adams's myriad sides: the public and private man, the statesman and writer, the wise thinker and passionate advocate, the leading abolitionist and fervent federalist who believed strongly in both individual liberty and the government's role as an engine of progress and prosperity. In these ways - and in his energy, empathy, sharp intellect, and powerful gift with words both spoken and written - he was a predecessor of Lincoln and, later, FDR and Obama. Indeed, this sweeping biography makes clear how Adams's forward-thinking values, his definition of leadership, and his vision for the nation's future is as much about 21st-century America as it is about Adams's own time.
Meticulously researched and masterfully written, John Quincy Adams paints a rich portrait of this brilliant leader and his significance to the nation and our own lives.
©2014 Fred Kaplan (P)2014 Audible Inc.
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"Destined by birth, mentored by greats..."
I've been thoroughly enjoying my series on the founding fathers and although JQA isn't necessarily one of the founders, I found it necessary and natural to follow up David McCullough's book on JQA's father (Previously reading: Washington A Life, and Alexander Hamilton (both by Ron Chernow), Jefferson's War (Wheelan), Washington's Spies (Rose)). What I learned is that despite not technically being a founder, he was in the midst of it all and probably received more diverse mentorship from the founders than anyone else could have based solely off his father bringing him along to Europe.
JQA's experience begins in Europe during the revolution and culminates as a primary catalyst of the inevitable and long foreseen civil war; his was an inimitable place and presence in history.
This book only receives 4 stars because it seemed the author took too much liberty in the introduction with his analysis of JQA. Although he knows far more than me, he set a stage of political partisanship that is resolutely contradicted by his own writing in the book. I only felt this way with the introduction, but again, that set an undesired expectation. Also it seemed as if the author rushed through JQA's presidency preferring to focus on his upbringing (which is vitally important to understanding JQA) and his post presidency (which really cements his legacy). This may be do to the paucity of JQA's own writings at this time as he was extremely busy and also debilitated by old and new injuries to his writing hand.
"Freshly retired 71 yr old lawyer"
Fabulous review of the struggles of my nation, most relevant to the current struggles of our Republics decline. What a "stud" he was and what he sacrificed for his country is unsurpassed by the current thieves, cowards and semiliterates in Wash DC today. Doug
"Excellent presidential biography"
I loved everything. First: the material. An amazing man whose life story is presented in an interesting way. Second: the narrator's voice is mellifluous - not irritating.
I knew very little about John Quincy Adams and was delighted to find him a principled man who fought valiantly for democratic ideals. It seems he had the best interests of our nation and our ideals as his guiding philosophy. I was impressed by the many historically important people he met from the United States and Europe during his life.
"Will be looking for a better John Quincy bio"
This is a serviceable entry-level biography for John Quincy Adams, but I found myself constantly wishing for more context, more sophisticated political analysis, and some help placing John Quincy among his peers. Better insight into this man's relationship with the many, many other famous men and women with whom he worked and socialized could have given this biography depth and passion. Passion is a trait lacking in John Quincy's personality. His biographer, poor guy, must look elsewhere for it. Biography becomes merely a timeline unless someone -- if not the subject, then certainly the author -- provides passion and interest. Once I became convinced that the narrator was as bored as I was, I abandoned the audiobook. I will finish the biography, however. Then it's off to read another one. Kaplan's is wanting.
No, I think I'm done with Kaplan. His style is a bit turgid for my taste. His sentence structure (which becomes something you notice when you listen to the audiobook) is repetitive and unimaginative. When there are presidential biographers like Jon Meacham working now, there's no need to suffer through these second-rate accounts.
As others have noted, he insists on pronouncing Adams' name "Quinzee." Mispronunciations abound, but when "Alien and Sedition" came out sounding like "Eelian and Sedition," I turned it off and returned it to audible. Thank goodness they have that option. I'm pretty tolerant, but this narrator drove me to distraction.
One or two references to his sense of duty and a compulsion to perform whatever public job was next offered to him would have been enough. The insistence that John Quincy was compelled into public service makes him sound more robotic than he was. I also think there was not enough of an effort made to read between the lines in John Quincy's diary (kept daily for many decades). Surely John Quincy is not as opaque as he appeared to be under Kaplan's lens.
"Excellent Bio of JQA"
Loved every moment of this bio. This is a must read for all who love American History. JQA is one of the most accomplished politicians in history. He dedicated his life to serving America. He saw more if the world than any American of his time.
"If you can stand this narrator ..."
The letters to JQA from his parents.
Stop pronouncing "QuinCy" As "QuinZZZZy". Truly awful and a 27 hour trial.
The death of his first child.
Someone really should listen to audiobooks prior to release. The mispronounciation of the main characters name is abhorrent in this case.
"A Total Waste of Time"
No. It is a shame that the narrator will be judged by the content of this book, but he should have at least read the book first to determine its overall contents.
Never, and I went so far as to lookup what other books he had written. It was obvious that the author had/has a political agenda. He has used this book as a way of publishing as much false information about the founding fathers and the beginnings of the United States of America as possible.
A few actual facts about John Quincy Adams and the men who were his contemporaries would have been nice. Seems this author took the time to locate and use every undocumented accusation he could locate.
Actually, in all honesty I would never allow my name to be associated with a book with so few facts and repeating so many false accusations about John Quincy Adams and the men who were his contemporaries.
This book is a total waste of time. For some unknown reason the author seems to believe that this books readers are going to be totally uninformed and ignorant about the life and times of John Quincy Adams and the men who were his contemporaries. There were so many false accusations and misrepresentations presented in the first two chapters that I couldn't bring myself to finish the book. This book was so poorly researched that I couldn't even force myself to continue beyond chapter two to determine what the authors true agenda was. By the end of chapter two the author had lost all credibility.
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