Customer Review

73 of 81 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional biography, January 2, 2001
This review is from: John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, A Private Life (Hardcover)
It's a matter of debate who was our most intelligent President: Lincoln, Madison and Jefferson would certainly garner their share of votes. But John Quincy Adams warrants serious consideration: he was an intellectual titan with an astounding breadth of intellect. He was impossibly well-read, sober, amazingly articulate with a rapier-like ability to demolish opponents or defend his position. It's debatable whether he was, in fact, America's most brilliant President, but this book goes a long way in making that case.
Nagel wisely delves into Adams' private side and quotes extensively from his own words. If you are looking for a glum recitation of Adams' political life, look elsewhere, this is a more human biography. There was a refreshing amount of material focusing on Adams' boyhood, and the chapters covering his Congressional years are especially interesting. His story reads like something from a novel: failed President transformed into one of the most influential Congressmen who ever serve in the House.
My only minor criticism is that Nagel does not sufficiently explore or explain Adams' brilliant son, Henry, who grew up to be a caustic and clever chronicler of the late 10th century. Otherwise, this is a solid book, well-written, thoroughly researched and illuminating.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 5, 2007 4:32:24 AM PDT
Henry Adams was the grandson of John Quincy, not his son.

Posted on Oct 10, 2012 4:44:16 AM PDT
Henry Adams was the son of Charles Francis Adams, who was the son of JQA.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 10, 2012 4:49:21 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 10, 2012 4:50:37 AM PDT
Exactly. You can buy "The Adams Chronicles" on DVD from the 1970s The Adams Chronicles , an excellent beginner's guide to the four generations of greatness that begin with the John and Abigail Adams family.
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