Try an audiobook on us

Abigail Adams

Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
Length: 19 hrs and 35 mins
5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)
£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

Summary

Abigail Adams/i> offers a fresh perspective on the famous events of Adams's life, and along the way, Woody Holton, a renowned historian of the American Revolution, takes on numerous myths about the men and women of the founding era. But the book also demonstrates that domestic dramas---from unplanned pregnancies to untimely deaths---could be just as heartbreaking, significant, and inspiring as the actions of statesmen and soldiers.

A special focus of the book is Adams's complex relationships: with her mother, sisters, and children; with her husband's famous contemporaries; and with Phoebe, one of her father's slaves. At the same time that John exhibited his own diplomatic skills on a better-known canvas, Abigail struggled to prevent the charitable gifts she gave her sisters from coming between them. In a departure from the persistently upbeat tone of most Adams biographies, Holton's work shows how frequently her life was marred by tragedy, making this the deepest, most humanistic portrayal ever published.

Using the matchless trove of Adams family manuscripts, the author steps back to allow Abigail to respond to her many losses in her own words. Holton reveals that Abigail Adams sharply disagreed with her husband's financial decisions and assumed control of the family's money herself---earning them a tidy fortune through her shrewd speculations (this during a time when married women were not permitted to own property). And he shows that her commitment to women's equality and education was intense and explicitly expressed and practical, from the more than two thousand letters she wrote over her lifetime to her final will (written in defiance of legislation prohibiting married women from bequeathing property).

Alternately witty, poignant, and uplifting, Holton's narrative sheds new light on one of America's best-loved but least-understood icons.

©2009 Woody Holton (P)2009 Tantor

Critic reviews

"Insightful, sensitive, and original.... Here is a bounty of fine-grained social history as well as a feast of language, from the eye and the voice of a historian-poet." (Nell Irvin Painter, author of The History of White People)

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Performance

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 0 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    0
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
No Reviews are Available
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • 14-01-10

A Remarkable Woman

Fantastic book...especially if you've listened to John Adams like I did. I must comment once again on the remarkable and mellifluous voice of Cassandra Campbell. As soon as I noticed she was the reader I was sold. I highly recommend that you look for her when choosing a download.

Anyway, Abigail Adams. What an amazing woman she was. This book presents the other side of the the John Adams story. How she coped and ran the family during his extended absenses as a career public servant.

It was interesting to learn how archaic society's view of women was during that time and how she struggled for her own identity within those constraints.

From the book, John Adams, and hearing about the love letters they wrote, I had the impression that life between the two was all lovey dovey but it really wasn't according to this. Additionally, the book details the sensitive perspective of the family trials and tribulations as they relate to family relationships. Again, from the John Adams book, I knew of the key personal tragedies but they were told from John's male perspective. Not that any of the events were less painful to him but they were written with less emotion that a female does (we're just wired different).

I was most impressed with Abigail's financial savvy and contribution to the family's wealth through investing and her own business. This woman could do it all...and she did!

Remarkable...a life well lived.

23 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Adam
  • 17-01-12

Very good

I have read so much on John Adams that I didn't think this book would contain much information that I didn't already know, but it does. It is well written and tells you a lot about the Adamses in general, and Abigail in particular. John and Abigail (and John Quincy for that matter) left behind so many letters and writings that scholars still haven't been able to go through them all. Because of this, there is so much information about them that one or two books about them simply doesn't tell you even the basics. Not only does this book tell you about Abigail and her family, but shines a light on daily life in her day, which we can only see because the Adamses left behind so many writings. I highly recommend this book, along with the John Adams biography by David McCullough, the book on the two by Joseph Ellis, and the John Quincy biography by Paul Nagel. I have gone through all of these and they all contained a lot of information that I hadn't known before.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • ButterLegume
  • 21-03-14

Cements My Understanding of the Former First Lady

First, if anyone has read some of my reviews, I have a real "thing" about narrators. As I've said before, a great narrator can save a mediocre book, but a mediocre narrator cannot save a great book. Cassandra Campell has narrated dozens of books, (probably hundreds) and her voice is so clear and unaffected that one finds oneself completely immersed in the story, not the reader. (Scott Brick is another such narrator.) So, five stars for the narrator.

On to the story. Abigail Adams is an oft discussed First Lady. One reason is because she left copious letters by which to remember her. The other reason is that she apparently had a little something to say. She was wise, and she was smart. She very often chafed at the role in which society placed her and other women during her time in history. "Remember the ladies," is a quote she's remembered for and the fact that her husband, John Adams, made light of the request reinforces that women had a long, long way to go.

There is a distinct feeling that as time went on, both Adams were cognizant that others may read their correspondence on a world stage. There are some who believe that John Adams' tendency towards envy and jealousy mellowed in time. I disagree, and feel that he because more aware of the impression these traits would leave on generations to come.

It's a good story, really. Personally, I think if one has a true interest in the Adams "machine," one ought to read and/or listen to "John Adams," "The First Family," then "Abigail Adams," and then "John Adams" again.

Enjoy!

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Rj
  • 01-07-16

A Woman of Moral Courage

I share Audible with my husband & this was my selection after completing John Adams by David McCullough. if you love history, you will appreciate every detail of this remarkable woman's life. Narrated in such a compelling and sincere style, you live each momenr with Abigail, her family & friends. I was deeply moved by Abigail's faith & loyalty to her husband & God. Like all humans, she was flawed but her goodness surpassed any shortcomings she had. She is someone I would have liked to have known persobally and counted as a close friend. An incredible woman for the time she lived in and the adversities she overcame!

The author, as a male but true historian, has done a superb job of capturing the true essence of her life as a woman in the 18th century. The narrator read this history like a novel capturing the subtleties & nuances that transported you into Abigail's thoughts and actions. I found myself laughing, crying, and applauding Abigail's moral courage. I will listen to this book over and over again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • TravisD
  • 28-02-13

Well Done All Around

Love this book. Well-researched, well-written and very well-read. Abigail was quite a figure of historical significance and very human character. What a life's story. Buy, read, learn.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • 19-10-11

A Life Well Lived

Fantastic book...especially if you've read/listened to John Adams. I have to comment once again on the remarkable and mellifluous voice of Cassandra Campbell. As soon as I noticed she was the reader I was in. I highly recommend that you look for her.

Anyway, Abigail Adams. What an amazing woman she was. This book presents the other side of the the John Adams story. How she coped and ran the family during his extended absenses as a career public servant.

Anyway, Abigail Adams. What an amazing woman she was. This book presents the other side of the the John Adams story. How she coped and ran the family during his extended absenses as a career public servant.

It was interesting to learn how archaic society's view of women was during that time and how she struggled for her own identity within those constraints.

From John Adams and hearing about the love letters they wrote, I had the impression that life between the two was all lovey-dovey but it really wasn't according to this. Additionally, the book details the sensitive perspective of the family trials and tribulations as they relate to family relationships. From John Adams, I knew of the key personal tragedies but they were told from John's male perspective. Not that any of the events were less painful to him but they were written with less emotion that a female does (we're just wired different).

I was most impressed with Abigail's financial savvy and contribution to the family's wealth through investing and her own business. This woman could do it all...and she did!

Remarkable...a life well lived.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Elaine
  • 27-04-11

The Better Half of History

A completely enjoyable and engaging look at history from the distaff side. I came away more an admirer of Abigail Adams than before. A great way to learn history.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sara
  • 20-03-18

Colonial America From A Woman's Point Of View

I really enjoyed this biography because it makes life in Revolutionary America and the early days of forming the US vivid and alive. The book, drawn from over two thousand of Abigail's letters, lets the reader actually hear a living voice of the times. It literally made me laugh at how outspoken, gossipy and intense these women were. Holton offers a totally different historic perspective because the book is filled with back stories of life at home in the midst of war and post revolution recovery. The stories of Mrs. Washington, cultural protocol, social requirements and the limited rights of women were all fascinating.

I think that this book is the perfect pair-up to be read after David McCullough's excellent bio John Adams. The books have the same story line or trajectory, but very different tones and overall feelings. By reading both books I think I now have a broader picture and a better understanding of life in early America. The book was well written and totally engaging. Campbell's narration was good.

So often history is written about men, with women, if they show up, playing quiet supporting roles. It was refreshing to hear Abigail's clear voice in her own words and to learn about how she saw the world and viewed the events happening around her. To me, she was a formidable powerhouse who lived life boldly in spite of the social constraints of the time. If you love books that bring history to life this is an excellent choice. Abigail Adams leaps right off the page. I loved it.

12 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • darrand
  • 05-04-18

The Second First Lady

What did you love best about Abigail Adams?

Her sense of Honor and love of her country

Who was your favorite character and why?

Abigail Adams the book gave forth a sense of her personality that made me
proud of the female gender. She could be very strong and yet very tender.
She was very proud of her family

Which scene was your favorite?

That is hard to single out just one event. I guess it would be the part of her approach to her business investments. I liked her attitude.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It melted my heart. It made me laugh at certain parts of the story and yet gave me a great respect for her passion in the way she approached life.

Any additional comments?

She seemed to me to be a very strong and yet very tender lady. I have come to admire her and her husband greatly. I loved the book

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Verbum Domini
  • 23-02-18

Enjoyable

I enjoyed hearing the details of the life of Abigail Adams. I have always been fascinated by her and the time period in which she lived. My most significant critique of the book is that it over-emphasizes the theme of the injustice of coverture laws. The author plainly made Abigail's acquisition of personal property in spite of the laws of her time the main theme of the book. However, I found the continuous mention of it to be annoyingly repetitive. Otherwise, I became enthralled by the telling of her life story and in learning new details about her children and other relatives. She truly was a remarkable woman. The narrator was average. I did not enjoy the slight vocal fry in her voice.