From Publishers Weekly
The argument of this brisk biography is summed up by the subtitle: Sam Adams (1722–1803)—whom most Americans know principally as that jolly guy on the beer bottles—was a major architect of American independence. Indeed, he was the only founding father to argue for independence from England before shots were fired at Lexington. A native Bostonian and brilliant political strategist, Adams led the protests in the 1760s over the Sugar and Stamp Acts, as well as the 1773 Boston Tea Party. After war broke out, he slowly nudged other leaders toward a decisive commitment to independence; Puls quotes Thomas Jefferson's description of Adams as "the fountain of our more important measures." Puls follows Adams's distinguished post-Revolutionary career: he weighed in on the Constitution and served as governor of Massachusetts. But, argues Puls (co-author of Uncommon Valor: A Story of Race, Patriotism, and Glory in the Final Battles of the Civil War), Adams was mainly interested in local politics, and sought neither fame nor leadership in the early republic. This account lacks some of the everyday details that enliven biographies—in large part, no doubt, because Adams destroyed much of his correspondence. Still, early American history buffs will enjoy Puls's fine study. Illus.
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In this biography of Samuel Adams, Puls notes that Adams was conspicuous in the colonial defiance that culminated in the American Revolution, but his prominence waned after the War of Independence. That, according to Puls, was an effect of Adams' indifference to historical fame. But his American contemporaries were certain of the man's significance, and so was British royal authority, whose attempt to arrest Adams and John Hancock in 1775 sparked the Battle of Lexington. Puls' portrait, therefore, brings forward a figure overlooked in the contemporary flood of histories about the Founders. Recounting Adams' upbringing, Puls depicts Adams as feckless in business; he preferred talking and writing about politics. But if he was financially impractical, Adams proved masterful at political organization and propaganda, leading Boston's resistance to the succession of British revenue acts after 1763. Amid narrative attention to Adams' activity in assemblies, Puls ably dramatizes selected historical scenes such as the Boston Tea Party, giving history readers a restored sense of Adams' critical role in events. Gilbert Taylor
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