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My Dearest Friend: Letters of Abigail and John Adams Paperback – October 12, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Both Abigail and John Adams decried long separations during their marriage (while acknowledging them as necessary for the greater public good), but the unintended legacy of such trials were the thoughtful, loving, and literate letters exchanged by the couple that open a window on the birth and early years of our republic ... This is a treasure, for general readers and scholars alike. (Michele Leber Booklist 2007-09-15)
[The letters] provide valuable insights into the early days of partisan politics...The Adamses' correspondence gives modern Americans an extraordinarily personal view of our country's founding. Intermingled with comments on the great events of the day--the Battle of Bunker Hill, the vote for independence, the inauguration of Washington as president--are discussions of daily life, stories of neighbors and relatives, complaints about the high cost of living and laments over such family tragedies as a stillborn daughter and the deaths of parents. Their courtship letters are especially delightful. (Mary Beth Norton New York Times Book Review 2007-11-04)
Their loving partnership in service to our country is a remarkable story and one that merits retelling over and over again. (Senator Ted Kennedy, as quoted in the Boston Globe 2007-11-19)
My Dearest Friend: Letters of Abigail and John Adams is an extraordinary set of 289 of their personal letters...There are many books on these two that provide context and background; this one, in which John and Abigail's voices soar unencumbered over the pages, is a lovely addition to the Adams shelf. You can't help but feel a little guilty reading these rich exchanges, since they were borne of long separations, with mail delivery that was slow at best, and during wartime, unreliable. Even the act of writing could be difficult: in one letter, Abigail talks about a winter so cold, the ink freezes in her pen...While they are apart, they endure the deaths of parents, friends, and, most heartbreaking, an infant daughter. Their elegiac letters carry an almost unbearable beauty. (Carol Iaciofano Boston Globe 2007-11-20)
Because John Adams's work as a critical player in the War of Independence frequently took him away from home, his correspondence with Abigail (some 1,160 letters between them have survived) provides a wonderfully vivid account of the momentous era they lived through, underscoring the chaotic, often improvisatory circumstances that attended the birth of the fledgling nation and the hardships of daily life--from smallpox to wartime shortages--in that "Age of Tryal." (Michiko Kakutani New York Times 2007-12-11)
The letters reveal the making of the American nation, in all its chaos and passion, from the inside...Both John and Abigail's letters are packed with evocative details that throw the reader into the epicenter of American revolutionary life. They recount the developments that led to the Declaration of Independence and the emergence of opposing political parties, the Federalists and Republicans. But, equally fascinating, they open a window on to a private world...My Dearest Friend deserves a special place in the literary canon of the founding fathers, not only for recording the amazing relationship between John and Abigail, but also because of the rarity of the survival of such a correspondence...The Adamses' letters are so enjoyable because they offer a wonderful breadth of topics, breathlessly jumping between flirtatious teasing, gossip about friends and family, and philosophical and political argument. (Andrea Wulf The Guardian 2007-12-08)
This new edition of the John and Abigail Adams letters, including some never before published, refreshes what many observers consider the paradigmatic correspondence in American history. It also showed Abigail Adams as a woman of prodigious talents and shrewd insights on matters small and large. (Robert Birnbaum The Morning News 2007-12-03)
John and Abigail Adams wrote to each other throughout separations caused by war and presidential duties. This comprehensive collection of their letters shows them to be affectionate, playful at times, concerned about both national and personal matters, and literate...The letters provide a unique perspective on people and events and allow us to appreciate the great sacrifice they made in service to the country. (Susan Olasky World 2008-02-09)
An extraordinary series of letters...Most 18th Century letters make for dry reading. Abigail and John's are entirely different. They pour their hearts onto the page, expressing their raw feelings as flesh-and-blood humans, not the marble statues we associate with the Founders...The letters are priceless historic artifacts, not only for what they say about these two people, and about the world-changing events in which they played a role, but also because of the way they transport us back to the time...The letters are much more than rich veins to be mined with an historian's pickaxe. They are fun reading, bubbling with the charm, intelligence and passion of these two, who were both compelling and entertaining writers. (Edward Achorn Providence Journal 2008-03-04)
My Dearest Friend is a refreshing tribute to a remarkable marriage and a reminder of the power of, and intimacy in, good old-fashioned correspondence...As remarkable for its literary eloquence as for its historical significance, My Dearest Friend provides insight into the complexities America faced during its founding years and into a marriage which made sacrifices for, and was sustained by, the commitment to securing a "more perfect union." (Ashley Brown Times Literary Supplement 2008-05-23)
In helping to found a country where their children (and ours) could grow up free, John and Abigail Adams bestowed an extraordinary blessing on all of us. Yet one of their greatest legacies was an unintended one, a consequence of their long separation and constant need for one another. They left behind marvelously detailed, literate, and loving letters to each other--1,016 survive--that add immeasurably to our understanding of this remarkable couple and their tumultuous times. Some 289 of them have been gathered into this new and fascinating collection, compiled by the editors of the Adams Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society...The letters reveal a man who, for all his flaws, showed stupendous courage, creativity, stubborn devotion to duty, and keen insight into the nature of power. As great as he is, Abigail is easily his match. It is clear from these letters that, in addition to keeping the family's farm going in his absence (a difficult task calling for hard-headed business savvy), she often shows shrewder political instincts. Intensely curious about politics, she clamors for details and advises her husband about what steps to take. As he put it himself, she was his ballast, steadying the ship and keeping him moving forward, and he would not have become the great man he did without her...The crude stuff of life is here, illuminated with the lightning flashes of history. The letters remind us that these were two people who were groping in the darkness, unsure what would become of their lives and their new country...Their letters open a window to their age like few other documents. That alone makes them invaluable. But they are also fun reading, bubbling with the charm, intelligence, pungency, and passion of these two, who were compelling and entertaining writers, one as good as the other. (Edward Achorn Weekly Standard 2008-06-02)
In My Dearest Friend, I am on page thirty one, and I have not cried, but something more powerful has happened. I stop with the book open in my hands, and just think. There’s no way to describe. Certain lines make my entire body have goose bumps in awe of the beauty, the awareness of Abigail and John. I just sit on the couch, for maybe ten, twenty minutes, thinking. The world is somewhere else, far away, when I read this. I am transported to a land over two centuries old, but these humans, these revolutionaries, had the ideas that could change the world today. And these ideas were in normal, everyday letters. I’m astounded even now, and I’ve known this for quite some time. This book makes me want to be a historian. There’s no other way to put it. I want to spend the rest of my life learning about history, writing about history. I want to be able to read the real letters, to see the real documents...I would give this book to nearly anyone. It’s a love story, historical fiction, an adventure, almost anything but fantasy. Though their lives were fantastical. Please read this book. It is changing my life. Maybe it will change yours. (lookbooks.wordpress.com 2008-04-12)
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am very glad to have this book. It arrived undamaged and quickly. Thanks.Published 15 hours ago by Amazon Customer
A wonderful book of history. Excellent reading. The book although used looked brand new!Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
This was a very good book! The little explanations before certain letters were very helpful. I also liked how much space there was in the margins for notes and such.Published 6 months ago by B
Excellent book and great read. It's fun to see one of our historical couples in their personal lives. Read morePublished 7 months ago by 2011CJ
This book is a treasure. Historical novels and HBO series are nice, but if you want to know the real John and Abigail Adams, you've got to read this.Published 12 months ago by DrItaly
Reading letters written in Colonial English is not enjoyable. Put it down after 50 pages. For scholars only.Published 13 months ago by Mary Fields