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Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, Volumes 1-4: Diary (1755-1804) and Autobiography (through 1780)

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0674203006
ISBN-10: 0674203003
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Editorial Reviews


Superb volumes...The record of the American revolutionary movement...is immeasurably enriched by the graphic details and trenchant estimates that bind together these leaves of a statesman's life. (Adrienne Koch New York Times Book Review)

Every Adams, including the women who married into the family, seemed to be under a compulsion to justify their deeds by words, and to keep a full record of their part in public affairs. To this love of public service they added the inward ruminations of a puritan conscience, never at ease especially when times were comfortable. The result is a profusion of papers that makes even Gladstone's accumulation of documents look, by comparison, like the slovenly legacy of a careless statesman...John Adams ceases to be a figure of history and becomes a living oracle for our distempered age. There are no statesmen like John Adams anywhere in the democratic world today. (Manchester Guardian)

These four magnificently printed volumes are the first to appear out of what eventually will be a vast work of primary importance to every student, professional or casual, of the American past and the American mind. (Perry Miller Christian Science Monitor)

No praise can be too high for this work. In production, in illustrations, in management of the text and, above all, in editing it not only does justice to two of the most important and fascinating of American historical documents, but sets a standard for such undertakings. (Allan Nevins Saturday Review)

The editing...is a triumph of commonsense and of scholarship something that would have pleased old John Adams himself...the annotations are both full and illuminating...They reveal at every point a mastery of the material, and of history. (Henry Steele Cornmager New York Herald Tribune Books)

That the most consistently distinguished family in our national existence felt a passion to record their lives and times seems, at this distance, too good to be true. And so, for that matter, does the magnificant project that makes its debut today. (John K. Hutehens New York Herald Tribune)

These four volumes, beautifully printed, splendidly edited, and effectively indexed, mark a publishing event. They will introduce the real John Adams to a new audience. (Clarence L. Ver Stegg Chicago Tribune)

The first four volumes are a veritable triumph of research skill and scholarly effort, endowing the priceless historical raw material with even greater virtue and value by the most scrupulous respect for the original manuscript texts and by the most painstaking work on footnotes which explore inconsistencies and put isolated entries into historical context. One of the great achievements in historical publication in our time. (J. R. Wiggins Washington Post)


But this [account] does open the doors. This does bring its closer to the tables where the record was written. And for this reason it serves as a most valuable chronicle of a long series of lives which stretch down to the present date. (John F. Kennedy, President of the United States)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1852 pages
  • Publisher: Belknap Press (January 1, 1961)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674203003
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674203006
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 7 x 6.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,249,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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President Adams is one of my favorite presidents (Reagan, Washington, Coolidge, Harding and Jackson are also on that list). I purchased these volumes in January and have completed the first. On first glance, there was much to put-one-off----many one sentence entries that held no significance to the uninitiated. However when the reader gets into the "younger" Adams' more philosophical ponderings the reward is rich. Biographers such as Mr. McCollough and Mr. Ellis (Mr. Ellis' best work by a long-shot "Passionate Sage", his other works have been disappointing at best) have done good job of revealing our second president, but reading Adams' own words make the journey much more rewarding. The first volume is down; it's not always easy reading, but often good things don't come easy. Would recommend this collection to any reader who wants a "realist's" view from our Founders, for President Adams seems to be as real as they come. Highly recommended.
7-2008 Update----Finished most of the autobiography portion, and must say---Adams in his own words is very highly recommended. Reading the diary tends to bog down, but reading the autobiographical material, referring back to the diary is the way to go.
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