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John Adams: Party of One

by

John Adams: Party of One Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

An acute examination of a paradoxical U.S. president.

John Adams was an undiplomatic diplomat and an impolitic politician--a fierce revolutionary yet a detached and reluctant leader of the nation he helped to found. Few American public figures have ever been more devoted to doing the right thing, or more contemptuous of doing the merely popular thing. Yet his Yankee-bred fixation with ethical propriety and fiscal conservatism never stood in the way of his doing what was necessary. Adams hated debt, but as minister to the Netherlands during the Revolution, he was America's premier junk-bond salesman. And though raised a traditional Massachusetts Congregationalist, Adams was instrumental in bringing about the consecration of the first American Episcopal bishops. He was a warm and magnanimous friend and, on occasion, a man who fully vindicated the famous judgment of a rival he detested. Adams, said Benjamin Franklin, "means well for his country, is always an honest man, often a wise one, but, sometimes, and in some things, is absolutely out of his senses."

James Grant examines this complex and often contradictory founding father in the most well-rounded and multi-faceted portrait of Adams to date. Going from his beginnings on a hardscrabble Massachusetts farm to the Continental Congress to the Court of St. James and the White House, Grant traces the words and deeds of one of our most learned but politically star-crossed leaders.

James Grant is the editor of Grant's Interest Rate Observer and the author of four books on finance and financial history, including Money of the Mind and Minding Mister Market. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Patricia Kavanagh, and their four children.

John Adams was an undiplomatic diplomat and an impolitic politician—a fierce revolutionary, yet a detached and reluctant leader of the nation he helped top found. Few American public figures have ever been more devoted to doing the right thing, or more contemptuous of doing the merely popular thing. Yet his Yankee-bred fixation with ethical propriety and fiscal conservatism never stood in the way of his doing what was necessary. Adams hated debt but, as minister to the Netherlands during the Revolution, was America's premier junk-bond salesman. And though raised as a traditional Massachusetts Congregationalist, Adams was instrumental in bringing about the consecration of the first American Episcopal bishops. He was a warm and magnanimous friend and, on occasion, a man who fully vindicated the famous judgment of a rival he detested: Adams, said Benjamin Franklin, "means well for his country, is always an honest man, often a wise one, but, sometimes, and in some things, is absolutely out of his senses."

James Grant examines this complex and often contradictory Founding Father in the most well-rounded and multifaceted portrait of Adams to date. Chronicling Adams's life—from his beginnings on a hardscrabble Massachusetts farm to the Continental Congress, the Court of St. James, and the White House—Grant traces the words and deeds of one of our most learned but politically star-crossed leaders.

"In this urbane, gracefully written biography, James Grant wages the kind of tough, uphill battle that his tough-minded subject would appreciate, acknowledging Adams's weaknesses and character flaws, appraising his political blunders coolly but in the end leaving the reader with a richer appreciation of the Adams that Abigail and Jefferson saw, a man of firm principles who, for most of his very long life, labored tirelessly for the country-in-the-making whose future he never doubted, even when those around him wavered and trembled. Mr. Grant, the editor of Grant's Interest Rate Observer and the author of several books on finance and financial history, has a sharp eye for the subtleties and contradictions that made Adams a baffling character to friends and enemies alike."—William Grimes, The New York Times

"In this urbane, gracefully written biography, James Grant wages the kind of tough, uphill battle that his tough-minded subject would appreciate, acknowledging Adams's weaknesses and character flaws, appraising his political blunders coolly but in the end leaving the reader with a richer appreciation of the Adams that Abigail and Jefferson saw, a man of firm principles who, for most of his very long life, labored tirelessly for the country-in-the-making whose future he never doubted, even when those around him wavered and trembled. Mr. Grant, the editor of Grant's Interest Rate Observer and the author of several books on finance and financial history, has a sharp eye for the subtleties and contradictions that made Adams a baffling character to friends and enemies alike."—William Grimes, The New York Times

 

"Engaging . . . Rich in detail, ably researched, and frequently fresh. [Grant] paints a vivid portrait of a man who, despite often being his own worst enemy, always remained joyously human and never ceased to cherish public service."—Jay Winik, The Wall Street Journal

 

"This new look at the second president succeeds on its own terms. Grant is a fine prose stylist who has borrowed heavily from another talented writer—Adams. The result is a highly readable treatment of the Massachusetts patriot that examines his early life as well as his public career . . . Grant recounts [Adams' life] with verve [and] wit."—John Rhodehamel, Los Angeles Times Book Review

 

"Adams has been called a lot of names, but Mr. Grant is surely the first to hail him as America's preeminent junk-bond salesman. He bills Adams' European loan-raising among his greatest works, as indeed it was: on that foundation stood our credit abroad. If those loans have not often counted among Adams' greatest triumphs, it's because the details are abstruse; Mr. Grant lucidly unravels them. He is equally sure-footed on the subject of Adams and religion, on which he expands at length. Along the way he makes some fine points . . . With Adams' character, he is spot-on and sparkling . . . A party of one indeed, he was his own worst enemy. The eloquent James Grant rescues him from himself, to our good fortune."—Stacy Schiff, The New York Observer

 

"The interaction of the individual and events, the connections between the everyday man and the historic role he is obliged to play, are engagingly evoked . . . There are many . . . riveting scenes in Mr. Grant's biography. He wants to present a subject who identified with his countrymen one-by-one. This kind of biographical detail suffuses Adams' political principles with an intense poignancy. And saying little, Mr. Grant has said much . . . [His] perfect employment of details and anecdotes demonstrates what the romance of biography is all about."—Carl Rollyson, The New York Sun

 

"In this first-rate biography, Jim Grant delivers an effervescent life of John Adams that sparkles with classic wit, droll charm, and an engaging whimsy that perfectly suits both the subject and the period. Going beyond the humorous anecdotes and satirical asides that enliven his narrative, however, Grant sketches a poignant portrait of a doughty, stubborn, and many-sided man who defies easy generalizations. Whether as a lawyer, patriot, diplomat, or president, John Adams was a certified American original—a 'party of one,' as the subtitle intimates—and this biography, brimming with verbal riches, proves no less singular than its protagonist."—Ron Chernow, author of Alexander Hamilton

 

"Grant's wise and witty portrayal of John Adams deserves to go to the top of the lengthening list of biographies of the several Founding Fathers. No portrayal of Adams and his times is as perceptive, solidly grounded in the sources, and as delightfully written as is this book."—Paul C. Nagel, author of Descent from Glory: Four Generations of the John Adams Family

 

"James Grant's remarkable John Adams: Party of One should become the standard one volume on the second President's life. Jim Grant is a virtuoso financial historian, American historian—and master of the English language. From Grant, John Adams gets his just reward: a deeply researched, honest, marvelously written biography."—Lewis E. Lehrman, Co-chairman, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

 

"Well-wrought and scrupulous, John Adams: Party of One is written with elegance and a subtle understanding that rises to eloquence where eloquence matters, and builds to affectionate and moving truth."—Roger Kennedy, Director Emeritus, The National Museum of American History

 

"A financial journalist, Grant astutely appraises one of Adams' unsung achievements—arranging foreign loans that financed the War of Independence; indeed, Adams' 10 years as a diplomat (1778-88) strike the author as his subject's signal contribution to the American Revolution. Grant is less admiring when it comes to Adams' personality, conditioning his praise with amusing asides about Adams' social and political gaucheries. As the book's subtitle implies, Adams was little influenced by opinions about him: he was a libertarian, not a democrat. Grant is excellent at developing Adams' devotion to liberty, honed by British policies that affronted him and turned him into a revolutionary. In Grant's fine synthesis, Adams on the page is the pious, ambitious, and loving man he was in life."—Gilbert Taylor, Booklist

 

"An agile life of Adams . . . Financial historian Grant focuses on Adams as a politician and revolutionary, but also as an economic thinker and sometimes ambivalent philosopher . . . Though most of his pages are devoted to events before 1781, Grant gives generous coverage to Adams's post-revolutionary career, when, first, he became vice president and wrestled with the fundamental cheapness of a people that did not wish to be taxed and a Congress that did not want to spend, then became president—by a slender margin indeed—and faced with difficulties of establishing a secular, democratic government in a God-haunted nation that, even then, was beginning to crack apart under the weight of slavery . . . [This book will be] of much interest to students of the early Republic and the revolutionary era."—Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"This new biography by Grant, who has written previously on financial history (Money of the Mind), gives us John Adams's life in vivid detail. In his New England childhood, the amorous and 'bookish' Adams grew up in a four-room farmhouse, the eldest of three children — 'by prevailing standards of fertility, almost an only child.' The heart of the book chronicles Adams's involvement in the Revolution, from his early praise of the Boston Tea Party through his stint as postwar diplomat in France. His presidency seems almost an afterthought, with almost as much space devoted to fleshing out the details of his narrow victory . One might have liked a richer depiction of Adams's friendship, falling out, rapprochement, and brilliant correspondence with Jefferson. But if that storied friendship gets short shrift, Adams's personal thoughts about wealth, and his worries about luxury corrupting the American republic, are afforded just the sort of detail one expects from a writer with Grant's financial acumen. He ably joins the shelves of recent books on the founding fathers. For Grant's sake, one hopes that David McCullough whetted, rather than sated appetites. If this biography is not quite as grand as McCullough's, it is every bit as eloquent and deserves a wide reading." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

An acute examination of a paradoxical U.S. president.

John Adams was an undiplomatic diplomat and an impolitic politician--a fierce revolutionary yet a detached and reluctant leader of the nation he helped to found. Few American public figures have ever been more devoted to doing the right thing, or more contemptuous of doing the merely popular thing. Yet his Yankee-bred fixation with ethical propriety and fiscal conservatism never stood in the way of his doing what was necessary. Adams hated debt, but as minister to the Netherlands during the Revolution, he was America's premier junk-bond salesman. And though raised a traditional Massachusetts Congregationalist, Adams was instrumental in bringing about the consecration of the first American Episcopal bishops. He was a warm and magnanimous friend and, on occasion, a man who fully vindicated the famous judgment of a rival he detested. Adams, said Benjamin Franklin, "means well for his country, is always an honest man, often a wise one, but, sometimes, and in some things, is absolutely out of his senses."

James Grant examines this complex and often contradictory founding father in the most well-rounded and multi-faceted portrait of Adams to date. Going from his beginnings on a hardscrabble Massachusetts farm to the Continental Congress to the Court of St. James and the White House, Grant traces the words and deeds of one of our most learned but politically star-crossed leaders.

About the Author

James Grant is the editor of Grant's Interest Rate Observer and the author of four books on finance and financial history, including Money of the Mind (FSG, 1992) and Minding Mr. Market (FSG, 1993). He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Patricia Kavanagh, and their four children.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780374113148
Author:
Grant, James L
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Author:
Grant, James Douglas
Author:
Grant, James
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Presidents
Subject:
Presidents & Heads of State
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20060221
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
8-Page Black-and-White Insert/Index
Pages:
544
Dimensions:
9.00 x 6.00 x 1.40 in

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History and Social Science » US History » Presidents » Adams, John (and Abigail)

John Adams: Party of One Used Hardcover
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Product details 544 pages Farrar Straus Giroux - English 9780374113148 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "This new biography by Grant, who has written previously on financial history (Money of the Mind), gives us John Adams's life in vivid detail. In his New England childhood, the amorous and 'bookish' Adams grew up in a four-room farmhouse, the eldest of three children — 'by prevailing standards of fertility, almost an only child.' The heart of the book chronicles Adams's involvement in the Revolution, from his early praise of the Boston Tea Party through his stint as postwar diplomat in France. His presidency seems almost an afterthought, with almost as much space devoted to fleshing out the details of his narrow victory . One might have liked a richer depiction of Adams's friendship, falling out, rapprochement, and brilliant correspondence with Jefferson. But if that storied friendship gets short shrift, Adams's personal thoughts about wealth, and his worries about luxury corrupting the American republic, are afforded just the sort of detail one expects from a writer with Grant's financial acumen. He ably joins the shelves of recent books on the founding fathers. For Grant's sake, one hopes that David McCullough whetted, rather than sated appetites. If this biography is not quite as grand as McCullough's, it is every bit as eloquent and deserves a wide reading." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by ,
An acute examination of a paradoxical U.S. president.

John Adams was an undiplomatic diplomat and an impolitic politician--a fierce revolutionary yet a detached and reluctant leader of the nation he helped to found. Few American public figures have ever been more devoted to doing the right thing, or more contemptuous of doing the merely popular thing. Yet his Yankee-bred fixation with ethical propriety and fiscal conservatism never stood in the way of his doing what was necessary. Adams hated debt, but as minister to the Netherlands during the Revolution, he was America's premier junk-bond salesman. And though raised a traditional Massachusetts Congregationalist, Adams was instrumental in bringing about the consecration of the first American Episcopal bishops. He was a warm and magnanimous friend and, on occasion, a man who fully vindicated the famous judgment of a rival he detested. Adams, said Benjamin Franklin, "means well for his country, is always an honest man, often a wise one, but, sometimes, and in some things, is absolutely out of his senses."

James Grant examines this complex and often contradictory founding father in the most well-rounded and multi-faceted portrait of Adams to date. Going from his beginnings on a hardscrabble Massachusetts farm to the Continental Congress to the Court of St. James and the White House, Grant traces the words and deeds of one of our most learned but politically star-crossed leaders.

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