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Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams (1994)

af Joseph J. Ellis

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404548,632 (4.06)11
A fresh look at this astute, likably quirky statesman, by the author of the Pulitzer Award-winning Founding Brothers and the National Book Award winning American Sphinx. "The most lovable and most laughable, the warmest and possibly the wisest of the founding fathers, John Adams knew himself as few men do and preserved his knowledge in a voluminous correspondence that still resonates. Ellis has used it with great skill and perception not only to bring us the man, warts and all, but more importantly to reveal his extraordinary insights into the problems confronting the founders that resonate today in the republic they created."--Edmund S. Morgan, Sterling Professor of History Emeritus, Yale University.… (mere)
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After many years and several rereadings, this remains one of my favorite books on John Adams. It is less a biography than a character study, focusing primarily on his post-presidential years and only referencing earlier times when necessary to prove a point. Although scholarship has continued and in some cases changed since the book was written (see the statement that the story about Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings was not true), and Adams has continued to get more of his due, this book remains the most personal look at the man that I have found. ( )
1 stem Unreachableshelf | Sep 22, 2011 |
Ellis has done it again! Another absorbing book about one of our founding fathers. "Passionate Sage" is a very readable and fascinating exploration into Adam's complex character. Ellis explains well why Adams could be both an essential element in the Founding, yet be so unpopular in his time. Suggestion: Read David McCullough's biography of Adams first for the details of Adams' life, then read Passionate Sage for further anaylysis. (The two books were actually wirtten at about the same time with access to new materials, but Ellis' was first). ( )
  charlie2010 | Feb 24, 2011 |
4721. Passionate Sage The Character and Legacy of John Adams, by Joseph J. Ellis (read 19 Jun 2010) While some chapters in this book did not entrance, spending much time on Adams' views on aristocracy and democracy and the like, it gets better and I found its discussion of Adams' years after his presidency and of his correspondence with Jefferson and others compelling reading. His account of Adams' reputation is full of interest, and it does appear that said reputation has recovered from the long years after 1826 when he was almost forgotten. Since I had read both Page Smith's and David McCullough's biographies, I did not think I needed to read this but now I am glad I did. Ellis is a careful and astute author, and casts light on Adams' thinking which the excellent biographies did not, so far as I recollect. ( )
  Schmerguls | Jun 19, 2010 |
This book was one of those which inspired David McCullough to write his biography of Adams. Not a traditional biography, Ellis chooses to focus on small sections of Adams' personal life, particularly his correspondence with Jefferson. He reveals some keen insights about Adams (I was most intrigued by Adams' observation that men are motivated by a need for esteem--be it love, fear, etc). ( )
  derekstaff | Oct 22, 2007 |
This was a pretty good book, examining the character of Adams. It doesn't mention with great detail many of the historical events that Adams was involved with, but you still come away feeling you know him a little bit better. ( )
  RemlikReader | Nov 21, 2006 |
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A fresh look at this astute, likably quirky statesman, by the author of the Pulitzer Award-winning Founding Brothers and the National Book Award winning American Sphinx. "The most lovable and most laughable, the warmest and possibly the wisest of the founding fathers, John Adams knew himself as few men do and preserved his knowledge in a voluminous correspondence that still resonates. Ellis has used it with great skill and perception not only to bring us the man, warts and all, but more importantly to reveal his extraordinary insights into the problems confronting the founders that resonate today in the republic they created."--Edmund S. Morgan, Sterling Professor of History Emeritus, Yale University.

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