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Samuel Adams: A Life Paperback – November 3, 2009
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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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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This text is well researched and comfortably documented(with 134 pages of endnotes and a 16 page bibliography). This soon-to-be classic acquaints the reader Adams' patriotic zeal, political career, and devoted religious life. In deed central his life is Adams' faithful devotion to his Puritan Congregationalist Church. For him, liberty is God's gift, birthed by his ancestors' flight from religiously oppressive Britain, to be nurtured through law, and protected by war (if necessary). The American Revolution was a religious awakening presented, and sanctioned, by God's liberty.
All the principal characters of the Revolutionary era are addressed by Stoll (George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, John Hancock, Ben Franklin, Arthur and Henry Lee, Benedict Arnold, Thomas, Gage, George III, Lord Dartmouth, and many more). The first and second Continental Congresses proceeding are helpfully reviewed. King George's six taxes which sparked the Independence movement are each thoroughly analyzed. Finally, consideration of Samuel Adams' careers as patriot, journalist, and public office holder complete this informative work.
Stoll also makes Adams personable with many family and day-today vignettes. One interesting story is Samuel's and John Hancock's narrow escape together from pursuing British soldiers, attempting to arrest them, with the guns blazing in the distance from Concord and Lexington on April 19, 1775! A few days later the two Bostonians were in Philadelphia beginning to draft the Declaration of Independence.
Stoll has addressed Adams' contributions to American independence and its Revolution. This book is a must-read for all students of American history, Samuel Adams buffs, and those with an interest in American liberty.
Happy Fourth of July!!