From Publishers Weekly
Thomas Jefferson once declared, For depth of purpose, zeal, and sagacity, no man in Congress exceeded, if any equaled, Sam Adams. Yet the American revolutionary from Massachusetts (1722–1803, cousin of John Adams) has become the forgotten founding father, and Stoll attempts to pull Adams out of this oblivion. Rebellious Americans' passionate vision of themselves as an incarnation of the Israelites freeing themselves from Egyptian slavery was invoked by Adams, one of the most religious American revolutionaries. He called on Americans to fulfill their God-given freedom and was a radical who endured physical danger, poverty and the death at 37 of his only son. But for Stoll, a managing editor of the New York Sun
with a long career in newspapers, Adams was also the consummate newspaperman, a pundit dispersing the ideals of freedom. Occasionally apt to settle into litanies of Adams's various tasks and redundant statements on the divine right of American independence, Stoll also sporadically recounts evocative details of the period, such as the lyrics from revolutionary songs. This account might sustain a renewed interest in Adams as the founder of a distinctly American spirit. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Unlike Jefferson, Washington, or other Founding Fathers, Sam Adams could point to few accomplishments before the era of the Revolution began. With the end of “benign neglect” and the onset of the efforts by Britain to tighten restrictions on the American colonies, Adams’ true talents emerged. He was, as his cousin John Adams stated, a “born rebel.” Stoll has written a compact, admiring biography of Adams aimed at general readers. He examines Adams’ rich but sometimes sad personal life, including his marriages and family tragedies. The strongest part of the narrative, of course, concerns his career as a Revolutionary agitator and statesman. Many of Adams’ comrades in the struggle were secular deists, but Adams was a devout Christian who sincerely saw the hand of God working in the struggle for his concept of liberty and eventually independence. His fiery rhetoric was infused with biblical allusions. Like many successful Revolutionaries, Adams was single-minded, frequently intolerant of other views, and frighteningly confident of his own righteousness. Stoll effectively conveys both the virtues and defects of a somewhat neglected but very essential figure in our Revolutionary struggle. --Jay Freeman