Passionate sage : the character and legacy of John Adams /
Joseph J. Ellis.
1st ed.
New York : Norton, 1993.
277 p. : ill.
More Details
New York : Norton, 1993.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Joseph J. Ellis is Ford Foundation Professor of History at Mount Holyoke
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1993-03-22:
Decreeing our second president the ``most misconstrued and underappreciated `great man' in American history,'' Ellis, a history professor at Mount Holyoke College, sets out to recover the Adams legacy obscured by the ``triumph of liberalism.'' His notable study focuses on Adams (1735-1826) in retirement in Quincy, Mass., starting in 1801. Drawing on Adams's correspondence, his journalism and his marginalia in the books he read, Ellis shows the one-term president during his first 12 years of private life fulminating over the country's direction, then mellowing. But Adams would remain oppositional and tart: ``Was there ever a Coup de Theatre that had so great an effect as Jefferson's penmanship of the Declaration of Independence?'' Ellis argues that Adams, incapable of political self-protection and with an insufferable personal integrity, internalized what he viewed as the nation's failings--ambition, lust for distinction, etc.--and struggled to keep a check on such qualities within himself. He and Jefferson differed fundamentally on the meaning of the American Revolution; their disagreement, according to Ellis, was not about means but about ends: Jefferson made ``a religion of the people,'' Adams proposed that democratization should be evolutionary. Photos. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Choice on 1993-11:
Ellis presents a new and realistic appreciation of John Adams, whom he calls the most unappreciated of the Founding Fathers. The style is fluid, often witty, and the text is repleat with Adams's personality flaws and virtues. Although it begins with a succinct presentation of his public career, most of the book is devoted to his retirement years, in which his eccentricites and insights are revealed through a voluminous correspondence (not the least of which is with Jefferson), his political writings, and, of course, the marginalia in the books he read. The author explains why Adams was--and remains--unjustly unpopular and less well appreciated than other founders. This is an important book, one that should appeal to a popular audience as well as a scholarly readership. General; undergraduate; graduate; faculty. C. R. Allen Jr.; emeritus, Widener University
Appeared in Library Journal on 1993-04-15:
Of all the brilliant cast of characters who brought the United States into being, none is more noteworthy or more controversial than John Adams. In this biography, Ellis (history, Mount Holyoke) focuses on the last part of Adams's life in an attempt to dissect and illuminate the contradictory nature of this great man. In this detailed yet readable account, the reader is told that ``Adams did not just read books. He battled them.'' One of his favorite authors was Bolingbroke, but he considered Voltaire a ``liar.'' A man like Adams is heard loudly through the centuries; collections of his letters will always be invaluable, but Ellis's work is an appropriate and well-researched adjunct to the original sources. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries.-- Katherine Gillen, Mesa P.L., Ariz. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review Quotes
The best portrait of a Revolutionary-era statesman.
Impassioned and erudite. . . . A captivating portrait of this Massachusetts native as a wonderfully contrary genius possessed of an uncommon moral intelligence and farsighted political wisdom.
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews, March 1993
Publishers Weekly, March 1993
Library Journal, April 1993
Choice, November 1993
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Main Description
A fresh look at this astute, likable quirky statesman, by the author of the Pulitzer Award-winning Founding Brothers.
Main Description
A fresh look at this astute, likably quirky statesman, by the author of the Pulitzer Award-winning Founding Brothers and the National Book Award winning American Sphinx . "The most lovable and most laughable, the warmest and possibly the wisest of the founding fathers, John Adams knew himself as few men do and preserved his knowledge in a voluminous correspondence that still resonates. Ellis has used it with great skill and perception not only to bring us the man, warts and all, but more importantly to reveal his extraordinary insights into the problems confronting the founders that resonate today in the republic they created."'”Edmund S. Morgan, Sterling Professor of History Emeritus, Yale University.
Main Description
"Passionate Sage is [Ellis's] best book."-Judith Shulevitz, The New York Times Book Review
Table of Contents
Illustrationsp. 9
Prefacep. 11
Memories: A Prologuep. 19
The Education of John Adamsp. 26
History and Heroesp. 56
Irreverencies and Oppositionsp. 84
The American Dialoguep. 113
Erudite Effusionsp. 143
Intimaciesp. 174
Legaciesp. 205
Prophecies: An Epiloguep. 233
Notesp. 243
Indexp. 273
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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