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107 of 107 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This finely-produced book is the successor volume to "The Book of Abigail and John" (1975), also published by Harvard University Press (also reviewed on Amazon). However, there are importance differences between the two volumes. The 1975 collection contained 226 letters, covering the period 1752-1784. The present edition contains 289 letters, and continues until 1801, including John's service as Vice President and President. The present volume editors have largely avoided making updating corrections to capitalization and spellings, so one gets a rather interesting insight into how New Englanders of the period employed English to suit their own purposes. Unlike the 1975 collection, which contained editorial notes, diary entries and letters from other correspondents, here the letters pretty much stand alone. This has advantages (since it is pure Adams coming through) and disadvantages (annotations are missing that might have helpfully explained terms and identified individuals). A number of helpful illustrations (some in beautiful color) are collected in the center of the book. But the treasure here is the letters themselves. What a love story. I defy anyone to read these letters and not emerge with boundless admiration for Abigail. Considering that John was absent for years at a time, it fell to her to keep the homefires burning, raise the children, and deal with various challenges. What emerges is a quite literate Abigail, though she never benefitted from higher education, who seems to have an apt bit of poetry to cite for any occasion. The letters contain frank comments about folks like Hamilton, Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and others. They also reveal exactly how thin skinned John was, which condition was perpetually getting him into difficulties. Helpful introductions by Joseph Ellis and the editors, as well as a comprehensive index, add to the value of the volume. It is hard to think of a book that better captures the spirit of this period for the reader.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2008
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This book is a wonderful adjunct to the HBO series and David Mc Cullough's brilliant book.."John Adams". I have never been devoted to our American history, preferring instead Ancient cultures. I see what I have missed and vow to read more about the brave and devoted men and women who, indeed ,created our country. The love affair between John and Abigail seemed to provide the great man, as well as Thomas Jefferson, with the strength and comfort that spurred them on. Bravo!!
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 22, 2007
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
A significant collection of correspondence from the time of the founding of our nation. This decades long string of communication between the often-separated Mr. and Mrs. Adams is informative about those times on several planes: diplomatic, political, social, agricultural, and family. Winding throughout is the strong bond between a talented but thin-skinned politician, John, and his wise, supportive, and self-reliant wife, Abigail.

The book's editors did a nice job of keeping their explanatory comments to a useful, but minimal level. A clean text is thus provided, which keeps the focus on the letters as written.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
If you are a history buff or just a little interested in the history of our nation you will love this book. The letters exchanged between John and Abigail Adams are wonderful. Abigail was definitely John's rock. She kept him focused and steady. John was a very passionate man in his beliefs and at times would become a tyrant trying to convince people that his way of thnking was the only way to think. Thank goodness he had Abigail as he ran everything by her to see how she thought the people would react to his perception. Abigail would let him know when he needed to press an issue or just be quiet and let it happen on its own. Besides being lovers as husband and wife they were truly best friends. An inspirational read.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I started reading this while watching the John Adams HBO mini series. I didn't finish the book until after I had seen all 7 episodes. It was interesting to read their correspondence and realize how much of an asset Abigail was to John. If you enjoy reading letters, you will enjoy this book. The author inserts commentary prior to a particular time frame of letters in order for you to understand the tenor and specifics of the letters that follow. I enjoyed it.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 14, 2010
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
** page 186 - "About an hour ago I received a Letter from you beginning in this manner - 'My Dearest Friend'. That one single expression dwelt upon my mind and playd about my Heart.." (Abigail Adams)***

The union between Abigail and John Adams was one that all marriages are meant to accomplish, yet very few actually do. They were matched; as Life's partners, lovers, friends and equals in all areas of importance, including the politics of the day, politics and movements so immense that it was a miracle their marriage could survive it at all, much less thrive on the danger and anxiety inherent with their time. Abigail was of an intelligence par with her husband, they could converse with each other - no doubt that was the unshakable bond beyond all else between them; and these wonderful historical documents are proof without doubt of what happened in the turbulent times before, during and after the Revolution. Their pen was a weapon against adversity, a way of finding comfort and support in any situation.

Abigail, in my view, must be considered one of the first women (along with Mercy Otis) with enough courage to speak up about women's rights, and she had the right partner to speak up to because he chose to listen carefully if not entirely - the times not being ripe as yet for such a radical idea. John Adams brushed some of it off tongue-in-cheek as he responded to her statements about education and other essential human rights for women, but it is clear that he valued her opinions and could not deny the truth behind her thoughts. She could not vote, and I imagine such a forbearance rankled in the psyche of such a remarkable woman. and he probably, at one time or another thought: "Rats. One more vote might have done it for me." In fact, her remark to him "Do not forget the ladies" didn't bear fruit until decades later; slaves were given the right to vote 50 years before women were given that same right.

They were there for each other, if only by letters for most of the time during the early years when the important work of the Revolution must take preference over the home ground for John; when Abigail's duty, as she saw it, was to keep the home front in an even condition because that was the job description the Revolution assigned to her. Staunch patriots both, there was little whining on either side, yearning and loneliness was the only emotion divulged in their long-distance love and life affair, and it was also plain that they knew their letters would one day become part of the historical record that John once asked Thomas Jefferson: "Who will write of it? Who can write of it?" Perhaps some of the critical elements of it will never be known, but it would seem that these three made a very good accounting of it as amateur historians.

All one has to do to stop complaining about the trials of their own present-day lives, is stop and read of the hardships thrust upon people by something being done for posterity, and the unselfish grit they demonstrated. Thinking of my own children as Abigail, in an incredible leap of faith, took all of hers to have them vaccinated for smallpox when the new vaccine might well have killed them too. When thinking of the choice she had to make in something as simple as what we take for granted now - vaccine against dread disease for loved ones - it is easy to see the sacrifices these people of the forefathers made for the rest of us. They wanted a new beginnings for a new nation, a fairer government, and they were willing to die to make it a reality for posterity. All of this was apparent in their letters to one another.

For people with an interest in the American Revolution, and the actual accountings of the people living it at the time, this book, along with "The Adams-Jefferson Letters" is priceless reading.

Other highly recommended American Revolution reading:

** "Miracle at Philadelphia" by Catherine Drinker Bowen
** "Patriots - the men who started the American Revolution - by A.J. Langguth
** "Defiance of the Patriots" by Benjamin L. Carp
** "Three men of Boston" by John r. galvin
** "Jefferson" by Thomas Jefferson (Library of America)
** "Paul Revere's Ride" by David Hackett Fischer
** "American Colonies" by Alan Taylor
** "The First American" (Franklin) by H.W. Brands (Library of America)
** "1776" by David McCullough
** "John Adams" by David McCullough
** "Orators of the American Revolution" by Elias Lyman Magoon
** American Speeches" Political Oratory (Library of America) Nothing boring between these pages - the bravest and brightest intellects of our nation were available and hard at work speaking the minds of the rest of us - so that we might understand ourselves.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
A collection of authentic letters between a man and his wife documenting the actual events as they occur from their first meeting, the beginning of the revolutionary war, the first meeting of Congress to negotiaing a system of government through freedom of our liberties through the written and signed Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. Although early years were spent much apart, this extraordinary couple persevered a deep love, an emotional partnership and friendship while enduring personal tragedies of early Colonial life in the 1700's. These letters are Historical Documents. This was the life of Abigail and John Adams. A story that aided this reader in understanding a period of History so unassuming, so important in acknowledging the birth of our nation.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2008
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
A beautiful book as I was sure it would be. Now in the possession of another John Adams admirer who happens to be a resident of Cornwall, England.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2008
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I must shamefully admit that prior to the renewed interest in John Adams with the recent miniseries, I really had only a general knowledge of his role and importance in the founding of our country. This book gives a private, personal and wonderful view of the strength,deep,abiding love of this first family. I could not put it down & would highly recommend it to anyone.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book is a simply exquisite way to learn and experience history, witness epic romance, understand the true meaning of "commitment," and, odd as it may sound, make two wonderful new friends. John and Abigail's letters are simultaneously historic and timeless, reaching across the centuries to remind us that folks just like you and me can accomplish extraordinary things through ordinary awareness, love, thoughtfulness (as in deeply thinking about things), and day-to-day choice. I gained tremendous perspective on the complexity of our nation's founding--which is so often misrepresented as some cohesive, clear and well-executed divinely inspired flawless plan when in truth it was a messy, confusing and imperfect struggle of intelligent, educated, imperfect people doing the best they could and sometimes failing horribly. I was both uplifted and dismayed to find we still grapple today with many of the very same issues John and Abigail confronted in their time--both politically and personally. You'll never again be duped by some modern-day politician saying, "The Founders intended..." for you'll know, intimately, what these two Founders really thought, felt and understood. It will also inform (and maybe transform) your perspective on so many of today's political issues--from education reform, to foreign policy, to women's rights, to the national debt. And, of course, it will show you what marriage is really about. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
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